Hand in Hand Marks 25-Years of Shared Jewish-Arab Education
Twenty-five years ago, our Co-Founders Lee Gordon and Amin Khalaf had a crazy idea. What if Jewish and Arab children could start learning together in Israel, starting from the earliest of ages?
In recent years, shared society organizations such as Neve Shalom, Hagar, and Hand in Hand, have been steadily expanding this educational alternative, making it more widely available to Arabs and Jews across the country. But in 1997, this was a revolutionary idea—one that many people believed would never work.
As we at Hand in Hand complete our 25th year of providing excellent integrated, bilingual education to Jewish and Arab students in our schools, we look back on the long road that has led us here. It has not been easy, and we have weathered many setbacks along the way. But we have learned from each road bump, and continued with our work, undeterred in our mission to bring peace, equality, and multiculturalism to as many families and students as possible in this country.
Join us in taking a look at how it all started, and how we ended up here—with 6 schools in Israel, serving over 2,000 students, and thousands of community members.
25-Years of Shared Education: A Timeline
1997 — Co-Founders Lee Gordon and Amin Khalaf founded Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel.
1998 — Hand in Hand’s first bilingual preschools opened on September 1, in the Galilee in northern Israel and in Jerusalem with just 50 students.
2004 — The Wadi Ara school is launched! This is our first and only school located in an Arab town, Kfar Kara.
2012 — We launched our third bilingual school in Haifa, along with our Communities Department, which engages thousands of parents and family members across the country.
2013 — Hand in Hand launches the Jaffa school with just 35 children. This now a full-fledged elementary school serving 470 students.
2015 — The Kfar Saba preschool is launched with just 37 children. Now the school runs from pre-K through grade 5, and serves 128 students from cities and towns in Israel’s central Triangle region.
2020 — President Reuven Rivlin awards the Galilee School the Certificate of Distinction for Israeli Hope in Education.
2021 — A lot happened this year! We launched the first ever integrated Student University Community, a Multicultural Preschool Program with over 450 students, hosted a conference at the Knesset on integrated education, and won Canada’s Global Pluralism Award.
2022 — Hand in Hand launches its 2nd middle school — the first bilingual secondary school in Haifa.
2023 — Hand in Hand operates 6 schools — 5 preschool, 6 elementary schools, and one high school, serving over 2,000 students across the country.
A lot of good can be done in twenty-five years, and none of this would have been possible without the dedication of our superb teachers, students, parents, and staff — and of course, our generous partners and donors worldwide. Thanks to people who believe in a better, more equal future for all Israeli citizens, we are able to continue to grow.
But—there is still a long road ahead of us. In many ways, our work is still only just beginning.