Wadi Ara Gesher al HaWadi
K - 6
The Hand in Hand school in the Wadi Ara district, called Gesher al haWadi (or in English, Bridge over the Wadi) is located in Kafr Kara. Notable for being the first Hand in Hand school situated in an Arab village, the Wadi Ara School brings Jewish students into an Arab locale for school; something that is nearly unheard of in Israel.
As one of the largest schools in the Hand in Hand network, the Wadi Ara School is focused on creating a culture of academic excellence. Established in 2004 by a group of Arab and Jewish parents from the Wadi Ara region, the Wadi Ara School eventually joined the Hand in Hand network.
As more and more families enroll in the school and participate in community activities, Hand in Hand events bring larger and larger groups of Jewish and Arab families together. As a result of the school’s presence and programming, political attitudes within the school’s feeder towns have shifted toward greater openness and inclusivity.
The Wadi Ara School is also part of a country-wide “Green School” initiative, with a consistent focus on environmental education. The school also minimizes its use of paper, recycles and composts, and has a greenhouse and garden in which the students grow vegetables and herbs.
Since its establishment, the school has undergone substantial changes, increasing to accommodate hundreds of students from pre-kindergarten through 6th grade. The Wadi Ara School attracts Jewish and Arab students from a variety of nearby and distant communities, including: Wadi Ara, Pardes Hanna-Karkur, and Zichron Yaacov.
Hand in Hand’s Wadi Ara School is surrounded by a community of dedicated Hand in Hand parents, alumni, and friends that work to strengthen and promote the school’s status as a center for bilingual, inclusive, and high-quality education. The community supports several social and cultural activities, including family trips, an annual evening for grandparents, movie nights, a yearly environmental celebration, and many more recreational and community building programs.
Civic and religious holidays and commemoration ceremonies represent opportunities for our Wadi Ara community members to share important moments with one another. Annual events planned by the Hand in Hand Wadi Ara community include an Iftar meal during the holy month of Ramadan, a Lag Baomer bonfire and potluck at Moshav Ben Ami, and an interfaith Sukkat Shalom celebration attended by families and religious leaders from across the community.
A group of Hand in Hand alumni from several schools participated in a major gathering in Tel Aviv in February 2017 in support of shared society in Israel. Two Wadi Ara School graduates, Bar and Fatima, were invited to speak. They offered a rare, inspirational pitch:
“We are no longer naïve. We know that peace is far away. However, the step that each and every one of us can take, to advance the reality that we sang about as children, is to lead a life of being good neighbors, of equality and respect, without racism or incitement against others. We succeeded and continue to succeed, each morning anew, at our six schools around the country, to study together, to live together, to succeed together, and actualize the dream. WE are building together. This is called shared society and shared living.”