Humans of Hand in Hand

Who are the people behind Hand in Hand? Who are the students, the teachers, the security guards, the handymen, the administration, the parents, the communities?


We're proud to announce HUMANS OF HAND IN HAND: an inside look at the people that make this place what it is.  We're focusing on the Max Rayne Hand in Hand Jerusalem school, and will be posting photos and interviews daily.


Stay tuned for the next few weeks! We can't wait to share their stories with you.



“During the war last summer, we were all glued to the tv, and I saw how the different stations portrayed two totally different stories, even when they were talking about the same thing. I would sit and watch and just get so annoyed and frustrated. I felt powerless. But then I said to myself– ‘one second, maybe I could change that.’ So I decided I want to study communications next year, and work in the news – so that I can show what actually happens, not just one side of the story. 

“That’s also why I loved this project. The people at the school are really different from one another, not just because they are Jews and Arabs, but because they are individuals with hopes and pasts and they each hold so much. It let me discover a new world. It’s the first time I really entered the lives of the people that surrounded me for 12 years. I guess I had just never thought to ask.” 

-Adan: 2014 graduate






"When I saw the page of Humans of New York, I thought, why don’t we do that at our school? Our school is interesting, our school let's us each glow and gives us the chance to be special and unique. Each student is different from the other. And there are so many people there; not just the students, there are all the teachers and the workers. I thought it would be fun to see where they come from and what their ideas are." 
"On a whole, what do you think about your time at the school?" 
"I can’t imagine myself at any other school. It’s nice growing up there, you learn stuff there that you won’t learn at other schools. It allowed me to be different and no one put me in a uniform and told me how a young lady should think, act and look. We are ready to face whatever comes at us after we graduate. I think it makes us stronger.You learn how to deal with difficult times; especially at the war. You can’t ignore the war, but a lot of places do. But our school doesn’t. We talk about it, we do exercises to understand it, and we support each other. And the love between the teachers and the students, it’s real. It’s not just school, it’s community. It’s fun. I graduated, I’m doing other things, but I’m here working on this project, I love my school."
-Emily: 2014 graduate



“Photography is more than love, it’s a part of me. When I’m sad, it makes me happy, when I’m annoyed, it calms me down. People see a camera as a collection of parts, but I see it as another person, as something that does more than just take pictures. It captures feelings too. It was moving to take pictures in the school of the people who taught me how to be a successful person, who taught me to always smile. Like taking pictures of Guy...”
“Which Guy?” 
“The security guard, Guy. In 10th grade I had a hard year. I felt bad about myself and I thought that nobody liked me. Guy helped me through that. He said, ‘You need to be true to yourself, or else life will pass by and you will stay in one place. It’s OK, you might cry and things are sad, but you will be OK.’ He changed my life; I learned to be true to myself, I understood that I can love myself for who I am, and everything that I am, and that I can give to the world. When I do that, people will love me. It starts from inside, it starts from what you think. Love brings love, and hate brings hate. I’ve never told him that but I think he knows.”
- Amal: 2014 graduate and photographer




Behind the Camera! Who was taking all these photos and asking the hard questions? 

Adan, Amal and Emily attended the Max Rayne school in Jerusalem from Pre-school all the way through graduating in 2014. They breathed life into this project; they switched seamlessly from Arabic to Hebrew to English while interviewing, photographing, editing, and joking around.

Before we finish up, we're going to flip the camera around and hear what they have to say.







"I want to teach boys that they can be what they want to be, that they can cry when they are sad, that they can express their emotions. And when we talk about love, it shouldn’t be in terms of “acquisition”. Because love is not an object, it is about growing together."

-Guy: Civics Teacher












"My favorite class is civics."


"Oh I love it! OMG I’m in love with civics. You just learn how everything works and where you live and how things are supposed to be and then how they actually work. Last year we learned about what the opposition and coalition are and it was exactly right when the elections ended and you just understand everything and you know how a democracy works and how you can’t actually do everything in a democracy. And when you look at a country it is not really democratic or undemocratic - it’s in between. Every country has its democratic side and its not democratic side."

-Tala: 10th Grade










“I grew up in At-Tur in East Jerusalem and I lost my father when I was 9 years old. My mother, my aunt, and my uncle raised me. I learned from my uncle how to be an optimist and to think critically and independently. I remember watching him wake up at 5am to work in a factory and work all day. He was a hard worker, optimistic, and believed that we could build a different life, a shared life. 

I have always loved this city. I love the alleyways, the smells and the shops. I feel a responsibility towards Jerusalem, I believe that we can make change here, and I think I have. When I returned to my home in At-Tur to run the community center there, I fought to get funding to build schools, to make services accessible, and to create programming for the entire community that brought some relief, if only slightly, to the distress of their daily life.
Hand in Hand is my community now, my way of life, a place that is good for me and my family; I give to it and am nourished by it. It's crazy to think that my oldest son is graduating next week. I have always taught my children to give to the people around them, and to dream. Because without our dreams, it’s like we’re not alive. You need to dream, to hope, to feel, to work hard, and to look towards the future.

-Nazeeh: Parent and Jerusalem Co-Community Organizer







"My father was killed in the Yom Kippur War four days before I was born, so I never knew him and he never knew me. The feeling of loss for somebody I never knew is kind of a strange experience – because I don’t always know what or who I miss. But I do miss him, I feel his absence, and every year that missing piece in me grows a little, together with me.

I remember that as a little girl I would often think about the little girls in Syria whose fathers were killed in that same war. Those thoughts get new context now as a mother in this school. I shared the story about my father at this year’s Memorial Day Ceremony, and I felt privileged that I could do that standing next to Morad, who shared his story of Palestinian loss and memory.

If I took something from my father, it’s the ideological passion for living the way I believe. Being part of this community lets me practice what I preach. For as long as I can remember, I've wanted a home that was safe; a home whose truth is the opposite of war. That is the home I have found here, at the school, in our community, in our shared lives. We choose to build a space that does not erase where we come from, but that is still big enough to hold us all."

-Gili: Parent and community member, seen here with her daughter, Halleli




“I want to be an engineer or a lawyer. Or maybe a professional hip hop dancer."

“I play the clarinet. Music is freeing for me. When I play everything that annoys me just goes away. After 6th grade I thought about switching to the music academy to focus on my playing, but I decided to stay. Arabic is my favorite class. If I would have switched schools, I would have had to start Arabic from the beginning, and that would be a bummer. I want to continue to work on and improve my Arabic, it’s important to me." 

-Samira and Michal: 7th grade











"Why do you go to this school?"  "People always ask me that, it's hard to answer because I don't know anything else - I've been here since preschool. My parents sent me here because they believe in the idea of the school, of Arabs and Jews being together. It's just normal life for me... and when I got older, I was the one who chose to stay."

 -Aya: 10th Grade


















"My job is to protect the children here. Knowing the people at this school has softened me and made me more open to new things, more loving, more accepting, and more curious." 

-Guy: Security Guard







"I also take care of the cats. We have to honor all the creatures in this world from the smallest to the largest. You don’t have the right to hurt them because you are stronger or smarter than them. With animals you can communicate without words. It is freer and more direct. It’s on a softer wavelength, and when you discover it, you can reach deeper communication."


Guy: Security Guard













"My friends names are Hiba, Ophir, and Leen. We like to play and draw and sing. Especially sing."

-Nateer: Kindergarten













"I have always been an easy-going person. I always say that every man is free: free with his religion and free with his thoughts. In addition to working at school, I work as a guard at the Dome of the Rock. The same issues here are also over there. Some of the people who pray there are tough-minded, but you need to learn to communicate with them. As the prophet Muhammad said, “Address people in a language they can understand.”

-Assem: Groundskeeper










"My father grew up in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, and we grew up with Hebrew and Arabic at home. It’s because of my bilingual upbringing that I wanted to work in this school. It’s not like a regular kindergarten where the kids leave when they finish and I don’t see them. In our school I get to meet them every morning and afternoon every year until they graduate - it’s special and moving for me to see them grow up."

 -Vida: Kindergarten Teacher








"I have a friend called Omar. I like him because we run together. When we don't get along, we grab each other’s little fingers and promise: "Peace Peace for the world, fight fight never again.""

 -Gabi: Kindergarten

















"What is important to you that your students learn from you?"

"To be human. To respect one another. To listen to each other." 

-Keren: 1st Grade Teacher















"The message that I want to transfer to my students is the importance of the Arabic language. In the same way that you take care of yourself, you have to take care of Arabic. I want my students to talk like dolphins not like sharks; that is, for them to speak clearly and not aggressively so that others will listen to them." 

-Angie: Arabic Teacher













"I want to be a dolphin because they jump high."

-Amit: 1st Grade










"I want to be a teacher when I grow up. I always get good grades."

-Shukrallah: 1st Grade





       “He’s a troublemaker.”   

“No I’m not!”










"When I was young, school was really boring. I cut class, I wasn't a good student, I was a bit of a troublemaker, and I felt invisible to most of the teachers. But there was one teacher who saw me, he told me that my questions were smart. That left a mark on me, it changed my life. I want to do that for my students." 

-Guy: Civics Teacher









want to become a journalist because I really like hearing people’s stories; I really like hearing about their side and not just talking about mine all the time. And I really want to travel the world with my job. I don’t want to be in an office, just waking up and going to work and coming home - that’s not fun. YOLO. "

-Tala: 1

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