A look back at the past year in our six communities!

May 26th, 2015
We have had an amazing year in all six of our shared communities - in Jerusalem, Wadi Ara, the Galilee, Jaffa, Haifa, and in our newest community in Tira-Kfar Saba. We have grown in numbers and in strength as thousands of Jews and Arabs in Israel came together as part of Hand in Hand to engage deeply, create friendships, and work together to build a shared society. 
Below are a few highlights: 
Thousands march in support of the Max Rayne Hand in Hand Jerusalem School: All five Hand in Hand communities mobilized for a massive event in support of the Max Rayne Hand in Hand Jerusalem school and community on Friday, December 5th. Over 2500 Israelis – Jews and Arabs, adults and children, gathered with Hand in Hand on a joyous march of peace and solidarity in response to the arson attack. Together they declared: “We Are All Hand in Hand”.
For more on the Arson Attack and the response, visit this link. 
New Year mural: The Max Rayne Hand in Hand Jerusalem School and community was invited to paint New Year’s greetings in Hebrew, Arabic & English in a huge public wall mural at Jerusalem’s First Station, for all Jerusalemites to see.
Jerusalem principals learn from Hand in Hand: Following the October 29 graffiti attack on the Jerusalem school, the Jerusalem Educational Authority (MANCHI) brought together 40 elementary school principals from all over Jerusalem at the Max Rayne Jerusalem Hand in Hand school to learn about the unique educational model as part of the municipal Principal's Forum. The session focused on racism and violence in Jerusalem in the aftermath of the anti-Arab graffiti on the school and the escalating tension 
in Jerusalem.
Tira-Kfar Saba:
We have officially established our sixth community this year in Tira-Kfar Saba! We are planning on opening a new preschool there this fall in Beit Berl, and there is already a waiting list. Expanding our network of communities is an essential step towards our goal of creating a broad base for shared society in Israel. The picture to the left is of the very first community event which drew over 100 people! 
“Growing up together”: Haifa Preschool. In June, parents, children, and community members and supporters gathered for an evening in support of the Hand in Hand bilingual preschool in Haifa. There were performances by the preschool children, presentations about bilingual education, and a musical performance by a student from the Galilee, fundraising for the preschool.
"Succah of Peace": Haifa  A joint project with Beit Hagefen, a Jewish-Arab community center. Jewish and Arab families came together for discussions about the Jewish and Muslim holidays in the October, and had creative arts and music activities and performances in and around the succah. The theme of the event was “neighborliness” or what it means to us to be good neighbor.
Community holiday study: The Haifa community was invited for a shared learning about Yom Kippur and Eid Al Adcha, which fell on the same day this year.  Significantly, even Israel's most important national radio program "Ma Bo'er" (What's Most Burning) thought that this event was important and positive, in the midst of all the negative forecasts for the day and spoke to two community members (one Jewish and one Arab) the day following our meeting. Both spoke about the preschool being a haven for building strong relationships based on mutual trust and understanding.
Study tour for adults of Old Jaffa: On May 2nd, there was a community tour of Jaffa led by community member and long-time Jaffa resident Sami Abu Shahda. The tour wove through the new and old cities of Jaffa and ended with a panel in the Jewish Arab Theater in Jaffa. The panel addressed Jaffa’s future as a mixed Jewish-Arab city. 
Community response to the summer violence: The Jaffa community gathered every Friday morning on a main street in Jaffa to protest racism, incitement and violence. Children and adults from the school and other Jaffa residents joined to make signs, like "Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies", "We want to grow up together" and "Standing hand in hand against racism".
Siftah Festival: Children, parents and community members got together to paint and plant flowers in the school yard, and then invited the community to the "Siftah" festival, which had a circus and arts activities for hundreds of Jaffa community members.
Wadi Ara: 
Neighbors in Peace: In response to the violence and war over the summer, the Wadi Ara community partnered with other organizations who all wanting to take a stand as neighbors united against racism and hatred. Every Friday in July 2014 through March 2015, hundreds of Jews and Arabs joined a human chain along a major highway in Wadi Ara holding signs in Hebrew and Arabic, saying "Neighbors in Peace.”
Ten year concert: Hundreds of Wadi Ara residents: parents, teachers and students of the Hand in Hand Bridge Over the Wadi School gathered on April 7th 2014 or a celebration of the school’s ten year anniversary with a concert by Ehud Banai and George Saman.  
"Succah of Peace": A shared event in the Jewish town of Katzir which included a few days of activities and cultural events in the succah.  50 people attended a religious dialogue session for adults about the Jewish and Muslim holidays which  took place in October with Jewish and Muslim religious leaders.
Dialogue: The Wadi Ara community had dialogue for the first time in three years this past February and March. There were parents who were hesitant to have dialogue because they were afraid it would raise tensions and they would fight, but they found it was quite the opposite.  There was a powerful feeling of safety and honesty were powerful in these meetings, and they are looking forward to continuing them.
Beit Midrash-Madrase: The community gathered for the first in a series of shared learning events that will go in depth into Jewish and Arabic texts. This is part of our vision for a community structure that will be a center for Jewish and Arab intellectuals with the goal of creating meaningful discourse in both cultures.
Community Dialogue: The Galilee community held dialogue sessions over the last year that brought community members together in times of struggle. The first was during the summer violence.They all agreed that the school was an anchor of sanity and partnership between Jews and Arabs that teaches respect for the value and uniqueness of both people.
Community Iftar: In the face of growing violence, hundreds of Galilee community members gathered for an Iftar feast in the school yard. (Iftar is the evening meal when Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset.) The Muslim families prepared food and welcomed the Jewish and Christian families to the Iftar feast. The Jewish and Christian families brought dessert and they enjoyed it together. “We invite local residents to amplify their voices of cooperation and hope”, said Itay Diner, the new principal of the Galilee school, and Kamal Abu Younis, the departing principal. They finished with a quote “On this land we have what makes life is worth living”.Mahmoud Darwish
Olive Festival: 250 Jews and Arabs gathered at the Hand in Hand Galilee school for arts, games and music the annual olive festival, including musical performances by two well-known singers, Yair Delal and George Simaan. a recipe market where parents prepared foods for people to sample and shared their recipes, as well as many different stations for children. The olive festival has become a beloved tradition for Arab and Jewish families in the Galilee.
Holiday of Holidays Festival: The Galilee community organizer and community leaders put together a festival of Winter Holidays where the winter holidays of all the different religions were celebrated.  Students put on performances about how they 
celebrate their winter religious holiday and there was a panel of adults that discussed the meaning each holiday has for them. More than 350 people from the school and community attended.  
Good Deeds Day: In March, the Galilee community participated in Good Deeds day, building a window garden out of recycled materials to decorate the school. It was an amazing opportunity to do something good for the school, for the environment, and for the community!
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