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Hallel and Haneen - Co-teaching on Memorial Day

Hallel and Haneen grew up 10 minutes from each other in Jerusalem, but only met as teachers in the Max Rayne Hand in Hand Jerusalem School. This year they are 9th grade co-teachers and they shared their story at the shared Memorial Day Ceremony last week, with hundreds of students, teachers, families, and alumni:

“Over the last few weeks, our students have come to us with challenging and fundamental questions around the national days. Questions about identity and history, about who takes up more space, and who is right and who is wrong. We each grew up in Jerusalem – but in a much more narrow space than our students are growing up in.”

“I (Haneen) grew up in Beit Tzafafa, and studied in an Arab school just a few kilometers from here. We all spoke the same language, and because it was an Israeli public school, we did not talk about the Palestinian narrative, it was pushed to the side. All we knew about our own history was what we learned outside of school, through our own curiosity.”

“I (Hallel) studied in a Jewish School just 10 minutes from here, and the only differences between us as students were that some were religious Jews and some were secular Jews. But we were all part of the same historical narrative, and we never questioned that.”

“Now, as we teach together, we find ourselves dealing with difficult issues of narratives and histories as adults which our 9th grade students can already explain and understand so deeply. The arguments and discussions in class, even if they are sometimes heated, are a perfect example of bravely encountering and dealing with content and questions that most people in this city would never dare to ask. Questions we had never dared to ask. And as we hear you more, we understand so much more how special this school is, that allows you to learn and listen and feel each other as equal partners in this conversation, no matter the power structures around us, and to solidify your opinions, and deepen your ability for empathy for the other.”

Then, they turned to their students:

“We are here because we live in the same city and are teaching the next generation of Jerusalemites – you. Generations of people fighting over this city have determined its’ history, but beside that fighting there were generations of people who were building, healing, educating, and connecting – and they also have influenced Jerusalem. We believe in your ability to impact the future of this city and this country, and to create a society where you can live without fear – and with respect for yourselves, and true acceptance of others.”


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Silence is Golden