In Your Words: Support After the Arson Attack

After the devastating arson attack on the Max Rayne Hand in Hand Jerusalem School on November 29th, we received an overwhelming outpouring of support from Jerusalem, Israel, and around the world. We feel tremendous gratitude. 

Below is a compilation of only a fraction of the many emails, messages, and photos of support we received: 


"Inbar and Mouran and their fellow [Hand in Hand] students teach us a critical lesson for this time in our history: The light of hope must outlast the fires of hate. That’s what the Hanukkah story teaches us. That’s what our young people can teach us -- that one act of faith can make a miracle. That love is stronger than hate. That peace can triumph over conflict. And during this Festival of Lights, let’s commit ourselves to making some small miracles ourselves and then sharing them with the world." 

- President Barack Obama 

"I am writing from the other side of the world to say "thank you" for being a model for what's possible. While I am not a religious person, I pray that this becomes an opportunity for a larger community to see what you are doing. May it be a catalyst that leads more people to commit to making a change rather than just hoping. You guys are clearly doing the work. With love and support." 

- J.J., El Cerrito/USA

 

 

With love, from Gesamtshule Weilerwist, Germany. 

 

 

 

 

 

"I’m so thankful for the response of the students, teachers and leadership at the school and in the U.S. to the tragedy that has befallen such an incredible institution.  You all are constantly in my thoughts and prayers, especially during this difficult time. I’ve had the luxury of reflecting on this incident as well as incidents here in the United States of the past week and am struck with the continued ability of people to maintain integrity in the light of intense emotion, even hatred towards them. This could have easily turned into a time when hurt and anger lead to conflict and even worse… The spirit of hope is foundational at Hand in Hand; hope in a better future for all people living in the Israel and Palestine, hope for peace between people with different religions and languages, hope for the world to exist with peace and goodwill towards other human beings, hope for new beginnings.  Without hope, there is nothing. It is easy to let hope fade, but the challenge is to ensure that hope lives on through our children and their children." 

- K.C., Oregon/USA

"I am so sorry, please never lose hope, never let these people destroy your amazing work. You are wonderful. You are the hope for this country. I send you all my love and support." 

- R.B. 

"Sending love from the family in the south. Prayers and wishes that our children won’t have to live in a world like this. May you go from strength to strength." 

- M.N.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[above photo] "We heard about the arson attack that took place in your school and we felt we had to write to you. We condemn this despicable act. It violates two basic human rights, the right to education and the right of children and their families to personal safety. We are disappointed by what we see as growing extremism in Israeli society and by the damage that was done to you. We believe that there is no place for such actions in Israeli society; they hurt both populations and deepen the chasm that already exists between them. Our hope is to live in a society that is less racist and hurtful and to help create a feeling of safety among all citizens of Israel. We, high school students who are in the environmental studies department of Ben Gurion College in Beer Sheva, felt it was important to express our support for the students and teachers of your school. We hope for quieter days ahead. With love." 

"Sending love and support from a Jewish-American – we honor your courage and commitment to peace and cooperation! Please keep up your wonderful work – the haters will hate, but they can’t overcome love!"

- R.C.

"Such sad news. What a wonderful place. The fact that scoundrels would target the school (probably because it's easy) gives redoubled determination that the school should thrive. Israeli society needs the goodness in people that the school represents." 

- A.F., Toronto/Canada

"It is with great sadness that we read about this incident. I admire you all for your dedication and determination to move forward despite of these setbacks. I know that this story has been on the front page of Israeli papers and I hope that this will make people more aware of the dangers of discrimination and lack of empathy." 

- P.C., New York/USA

"The day after the fire, the entrance to the Jerusalem [Hand in Hand] bilingual school was packed with parents, kids, journalists and just regular folks who wanted to express their grief and outrage over the deliberate arson-burning of the school's first grade classrooms. Amid all the supporters what moved me to tears was the amazing solidarity by Jerusalem's school children. The Keshet School, which is a joint religious - secular Jewish school, sent the entire school for a solidarity visit. They came in chanting, "Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies." Kids from the Kidma School, also in the neighborhood and specializing in educating and empowering kids from Katamonim, held signs with the same sentiments. Then, to top it off, a large group of teenage religious boys from Hartman High School stood outside singing songs of peace from the tefillot. Their presence reinforced the fact that the bilingual school is part and parcel of Jerusalem's educational system. It does not operate in a bubble. Through its living example of shared education, the school is having a much broader impact on Jerusalem's school system. May their example continue to shine on." 

- B.K., Jerusalem/Israel

"Hug the kids and tell them that for every one hateful person, there are thousands that wish them all the best." 

- D.M.

 “What terrible news and such a deeply saddening act of hatred and fear. However, from what I have read, it sounds like the Hand in Hand community is responding thoughtfully and with urgent openness steadfastness and courage. I was shocked and horrified to hear of the cowardly arson at the Hand in Hand school in Jerusalem. I was then inspired and bolstered to see the compassionate and empowered response of the Hand in Hand community. We are also part of the community, connected by our students who traveled to Israel to meet the Hand in Hand students. I wonder if there is anything we can offer you in this hard time, but I thank you for sharing your world changing project with us." 

- N.H., Oregon/USA

 

 

"We are ashamed of the racsim and violence and are happy that your school is here." -Residents of the Pat neighborhood [where the school resides]. 

 

 

"I am so sorry to read about this shocking attack on your wonderful school! I will keep you in my prayers from California, dear ones.  Please do not give up hope! Your school is so important to and for so many of us – and especially for peace." 

- D.B.

"It’s not just about tolerance, understanding and compassion. For the impasse of hatred to be overcome Jew and Arab must look at each other and see themselves…the Hand in Hand educational experience imbues in its students this understanding starting at a young age when it is most likely to take hold as a core belief.  By fostering a sense of commonality and community, Hand and Hand teaches not just tolerance, but identification with the other… an understanding that each student’s wellbeing depends on their neighbor’s wellbeing.  That is why I see the Hand and Hand project as so much more important than anything else being done in the name of Peace in Israel." 

- D.N., Portland/USA

"My thoughts and prayers are with you. Continue your important work in educating a new generation in tolerance." 

- S.J.

"These are difficult days that we are experiencing. Every day we hear of horrible actions by extremists on both sides. It is their activities that get attention in the media and in public discourse. At times it seems we will be unable to mend the rifts that have developed, but the reality is much stronger.  Hand in Hand schools were not designed to assimilate Jews nor to Judaize Arabs.  Its purpose is teaching children to respect the other, their language, culture, and customs. It is this kind of education that will prevent hostility and hatred and will remove the many barriers that exist between the two peoples and will help build mutual trust between the youth of both nations."  

- A.Z., Kfar Kara/Israel      

"Yes, for every hateful act there are thousands who send their love. Thank you for being a brilliant light in the darkness!" 

- M.M.

 

 

“You are proof that we can live together in peace and we can’t let the difficult experiences, like what you went through this week, to harm our faith in our ability to live together.” - President Rivlin

 

 

"I am filling out this form in tears as I read of the horrible attack on your wonderful school.  I am an American Jew, a Zionist, and lived in Israel for a couple of years.  If possible, please convey to your faculty and students that there are many Jews, both in the US and Israel, who see in you a model for the kind of society we pray for every day.  חזקו ואמצו!"

- N.B., New York/USA

"Your work ultimately benefits all the citizens of Israel - kol hakavod." 

- W.C., London/UK

"Maybe the best way there is to encourage understanding, communication and peace. Keep up the good work!"

- S.A., Germany

"I have been a fan of Yad b'Yad for many years...I am so sorry that this terrible event has taken place. I am grateful for the opportunity to help the school rebuild."

- S.S., West Virginia/USA

"I read on Facebook about the arson at the school in Jerusalem. I am so very sorry...I am passing the news along to as many people as I can. In looking at the positive side, this may provide a way to promote increasing awareness of the school(s) and all you are doing! We will be sending in an increase in our annual donation this week." 

- A.M., Boston/USA

"It is so sad to hear of this terrible act of vandalism against the Jerusalem hand in hand school and their forward thinking work towards peace and understanding.  Thank you for keeping us informed.  It is people like us that need to help schools like this continue to flourish." 

- C.W.

"I read with sorrow about the arson in the Jerusalem school. Wanted to add my voice to the chorus of condolences that I know are pouring in. You are doing holy work and I know the community will double down on its mission, made all the more compelling and necessary because of this incident." 

- J.L., Miami/USA

 

"We were impressed by the resilience of all the members of the school community, who are determined to continue on their path of coexistence, tolerance, and mutual understanding and respect."

- US Ambassador Dan Shapiro

 

 

"It was a great privilege to be at the rally this morning, alongside parents, students, and all those in attendance. There was a calm and open buzz about the crowd, with plenty of earnest smiles and colorful signs. I was especially touched to see at least two or three parents walking in with fresh baked sweets for the kids. Thanks for all the work you do. There was clearly a steadfast hope present in all of the community members which was deeply inspiring to me. Kol ha'kavod!" - N.G., Jerusalem/Israel

"Please do not lose hope." 

- D.A., San Diego/USA

"Please keep up the important work that you're doing to fight against hatred and discrimination. Children aren't born hating - they are taught to hate, and projects like Hand in Hand teach them that there is another way." 

 - D.V., London/UK

"With you in spirit as you continue your wonderful work of building peace." 

- M.Q.

“We admire and applaud the parents and students who showed up for school on Sunday and have refused to be intimidated. But they cannot win this battle alone. All the resources of the State of Israel – police, judicial, education and social – must be brought to bear to fight this phenomenon, and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.  In fact, the entirety of the Jewish people – in Israel and abroad – needs to stand as one to convey clearly that there must be no place for racism in the homeland of a people who have suffered its effects so horribly throughout history.” 

- J Street, USA

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