Shared Holidays Foster Shared Values
At Hand in Hand schools, we celebrate holidays from each of our three core religions to foster community, respect and build shared values that last a lifetime.
No matter one’s religion, holidays are an anchor marking life through the year, and a way to express identity, culture and heritage. It is why, at Hand in Hand, we use holidays as a key tool to promote values of multiculturalism, inclusion, and equality. Focusing on Jewish, Muslim, and Christian holidays, we attach equal importance to each, and use the opportunity of these days to nurture cross-cultural friendships and learning throughout the year.
How We Learn and Celebrate Together
Hand in Hand teaches students about each upcoming festive day, and we even celebrate some holidays in school together. For Purim, the students come in costume and Santa visits each December. Students prepare thematic crafts like lanterns for Ramadan and sukkah decorations. And much more!
The Hand in Hand multicultural calendar includes school vacations for Christian, Jewish and Muslim holidays. While HIH students still have the standard number of school days, the different vacation schedule impacts whole families and shifts awareness in each home to the diverse reality in our society. Parents explain to their neighbors and colleagues that their children are off school for unexpected holidays, normalizing an unexpected phenomenon in our polarized society.
The festivities go far beyond our school walls. We organize holiday events for Hand in Hand parent communities too, including Olive Harvest Festivals in October, Hanukkah-Christmas parties in December, and potluck Iftar meals with hundreds of people, live music, traditional lantern parades, and food packing for those in need. Some Hand in Hand communities also organize events for Purim and Lag Baomer too, bringing families together throughout the year to build friendships and share joyful moments.
Shared Holiday Learning
HiH’s Education Department has developed a dedicated learning program called the “Shared Holidays Curriculum.” The team collated the best practices from dozens of teachers across our network and developed a unified program for all HIH teachers to teach the culture and history behind the various holidays. Teachers share the historical significance behind each major Jewish, Christian, and Muslim holiday, including a description of the holiday’s main customs with a focus on the shared themes, values and messages. The syllabus contains suggested activities, texts, songs, stories and arts and crafts activities to accompany each event.
Beyond Hand in Hand
Adapted versions of the Shared Holidays Curriculum are being used in our public preschool partnership program, where HIH pedagogic coaches provide multicultural training and educational materials to preschool teachers outside our network in Jaffa and Nof Hagalil. The participating teachers work in Jewish-stream public preschools, but have mixed Jewish-Arab students in their classes, and this program provides them with inclusive and multicultural content that reflects their students’ diverse backgrounds.
In addition, the Ministry of Education has included another specialized adaptation of the Shared Holidays Curriculum on their online portal, available to any teacher in the country, as a recommended program.
“Teaching this syllabus definitely contributed and clarified things for me as a professional regarding things I’d like to convey to the children. Even for my own holidays, it made me think about things that I used to teach without giving much thought to. And when it comes to a holiday of a religion that is not mine, it gave me a lot of knowledge and insight.”
– Jaffa preschool teacher, participant in the public preschool partnership program
We wish everyone very happy holidays!