"Challenges and Dilemmas in Building an Equal Arab-Jewish Partnership:” Hand in Hand’s Annual Leadership Conference
Earlier this month, some 200 Hand in Hand community members came together for our annual Leadership Conference, titled “Challenges and Dilemmas in Building an Equal Arab-Jewish Partnership.” During the 2-day conference, participants delved deeper into the issues we face every day, which are exacerbated by the difficulties of creating social change in an increasingly turbulent political reality.
Hand in Hand’s senior staff kicked off the conference with opening speeches. Shada Edress Mansour, Director of the Hand in Hand Community Department, remarked: “Our joint work for social change and the creation of a just and equal society has been the center of my life these past few years. This leadership conference represents a conscious and ethical choice to lead and take part in an equal partnership together with you.”
Dani Elazar, CEO of Hand in Hand spoke of the remarkable work Hand in Hand accomplishes on a daily basis.
“Our partnership is reflected in the tremendous work we do every day. There are not many tremendous accomplishments that are repeated on a daily basis. For example, the teaching staff that come to our schools every day, the students who come through our doors happily. The excellent bi-national, bilingual, multicultural education that is provided to our students. The non-stop community work, and the ongoing meaningful interactions between parents and families.
And sometimes, we forget how special this work is. Our students might even see it as trivial. As opposed to many of us, this is a natural way of life for them. That’s why it’s especially important to recognize and celebrate the enormous social change we are creating every day in our schools, without ever giving up, despite the unsettling and turbulent reality we are living in.”
A number of Hand in Hand alumni delivered opening words as well, including Alma Saporta and Sari Khalaf. “They say people here are raised to hate ‘the other,’ and that these patterns are difficult to break. As Hand in Hand graduates, we also have patterns that are hard to break, but they are the exact opposite. We are accustomed to truly seeing ‘the other,’ and not being blind to those who are different from us.
When we are faced with a vastly different reality, it can be very challenging. We know that building a shared society is a long journey, and we are only in its beginning stages. But being here today, engaging in these conversations, and taking part in a shared community of alumni — this reflects our daily choice to embark on this path together, which is all the more meaningful.”
The conference featured lectures from researchers Amalia Saar and Dr. Sharaf Hassan, as well as roundtable discussions with Hand in Hand’s principals, teachers, parents, graduates, and staff members. On Thursday evening, participants enjoyed an evening of enriching cultural workshops, including dance, writing, weaving, and more, followed by a performance by the Jaffa-based band ‘Qarar.’
“It’s especially important to recognize and celebrate the enormous social change we are creating every day in our schools, without ever giving up, despite the unsettling and turbulent reality we are living in.” — Dani Elazar, Hand in Hand’s CEO
The conference provided an essential opportunity for those most involved in Hand in Hand’s work to reflect on the current challenges we are facing, whilst simultaneously honoring the incredible work we accomplish together on a daily basis. At a difficult and often scary time such as the present, these moments of togetherness and solidarity are a necessary boost and source of hope and strength.