Adi Itamari, Parent

ADI ITAMARI is a Jewish mom whose daughters are enrolled or have graduated from  Hand in Hand's Wadi Ara elementary school in the Arab town of Kfar Kara. On the occasion of Memorial Day 2013, she reflects on how the school has fostered understanding and love for humanity in her children's hearts.

Translated from Hebrew. 

I just returned from the joint Jewish-Palestinian Memorial Day ceremony held at the Ganei Ta'arucha (public park) in Tel Aviv. This was one of the most moving, sad and hopeful events I have ever been part of in my whole life.

The event was exciting partly because I had expected only dozens, or at best hundreds, of people to attend, but more than 2,000 were there. It was also exciting because both Jews and Palestinians spoke about their loss of loved ones during the course of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but they stated emphatically that life is more precious than any land upon which they are fighting, killing and dying. They also called for the "solidarity of pain" and for a "politics of hope," and not one of only power.

It was exciting, too, to see that that the musical organizer of the event used to be a teacher at our Hand in Hand Bridge Over the Wadi school.

But it was most exciting that it was my daughter Bar, who spent six years at the Hand in Hand school, who brought me to this event. A year ago it was difficult for her to see the "good guys vs. bad guys" narrative around the Memorial Day celebrations, and this year it was she who took us to this special event that gives room for the pain of both sides.

It is so wonderful for me to discover anew, through my daughters, how special a place our school is, and how it successfully builds in the children a love of humankind that can transcend the conflict between our two peoples.

Two days ago I drove a Palestinian man and his ill daughter from the checkpoint in the West Bank to their regular medical treatment in Israel. This was part of volunteer work I do with the Israeli organization "Towards Healing," which transports sick Palestinian children to Israeli hospitals for medical treatment. The Palestinian father asked me if it would be appropriate to wish his Israeli friends "Happy Holidays" for the Israeli memorial day/independence day holiday. He wanted to express this to the many Israelis who have helped him and his family over the years with his chronically ill daughter.

Tonight, at the joint memorial day ceremony, even with the immense pain that this man must feel, there was an element of being able to hope that perhaps we can do something different here, because on both sides there are people who want something different. This is something that all of us can wish each other.

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