When Noha Khatib came to Hand in Hand, she was completing her degree in education and Hebrew literature at Haifa University. She remembers thinking, “If the idea of Hand in Hand is going to succeed, I need to be part of it.” She met Cofounders Lee Gordon and Amin Khalaf and became one of the first teachers at the Galilee School.
Having grown up as an Arab in a Jewish town, Noha understood what happens when Jews and Arabs come together — how they feel, and what needs to happen for them to understand one another and live together.
Pioneering Hand in Hand filled Noah with a sense of mission."You become a change agent in the community," she said. "You feel like you have to do something, break people's stereotypes, their preconceived notions of who Arabs are, break ground and open doors which Arabs have never been through.
"Hand in Hand is like a dream that has come true," she said, "and now I must keep it alive and help it grow."
Noha was born in 1973 in Nahariya, a Jewish costal town close to Israel's northern border. Her father was born in a small village that now sits under the Jewish city of Carmiel, inland from Akko. Her mother was born in an Arab village that no longer exists.
Her parents were both educators who came from poor families and worked hard to enter into the mainstream of society. Her father worked for two years saving money to pay for his first year's tuition at Hebrew University. After that, he made the honor's list in order to receive scholarships to fund the remaining years of his studies. He was the first Arab to graduate from Hebrew University's Hebrew language program with honors. He went on to become a principal, school superintendent, and an advisor to the minster of education. Noha's mother worked as a teacher and raised three children.
Her family's dreams for equality and coexistence continue as Noha sees her daughter Waard ("Rose") grow up in a changing society, one that Noha hopes will be bilingual and respectful of everyone.