Archive for December, 2016

Window to Mount Zion – Christmas and Chanukah on Mount Zion

December 31st, 2016

What do you do on Mount Zion when the weekly Saturday-night celebration, known as a Melave Malka, the first night of Chanukah, and Christmas Eve all fall on the same day? You celebrate, of course! With a little (actually a lot) of help from Window to Mount Zion.

Window to Mount Zion volunteers

Window to Mount Zion volunteers

It hasn’t always been this way. In the past the presence of different groups of Jews and Christians celebrating at the same time in the same space have caused tension and even violence. Thanks to the Window to Mount Zion project, over the past year and a half tensions have markedly decreased. Project volunteers work hand in hand with the major religious institutions on Mount Zion, (such as the Dormition Abbey, the Yeshiva of the Diaspora, those associated with David’s Tomb), as well as with the police and police volunteers. All of this cooperation has helped to enable a wide variety of holiday celebrations and events to take place in a unique way that respects everyone’s traditions.

Christmas Eve at the Dormition Abbey

Christmas Eve at the Dormition Abbey

Here’s a short clip of the midnight mass at the Dormition Abbey:

This was the second year that Window to Mount Zion volunteers came to the Christmas Eve service at the Dormition Abbey. After the success of last year, the Dormition Abbey actually called Window to Mount Zion to make sure they were going to be helping out again this year. Volunteers received the many guests who came for the midnight mass at the church and explained to them what was going on. Most of the guests were Israeli Jews who wanted a ‘far-away experience’ close to home, and who are interested in the different and diverse cultures in Jerusalem.

Celebrating at the Melave Malka as well

Celebrating at the Melave Malka as well

Window to Mount Zion volunteers were also part of the weekly Melave Malka festivities, which take place every Saturday night. They were there to explain and give background to the guests, and give a general helping hand.

We’re forever thankful to the Window to Mount Zion volunteers for their work. As a way of saying thanks, we brought them a lecture before the celebrations began. This time it was Yiscah Hareni, who spoke about the significance of Christmas.

Happy Holidays from Mount Zion in Jerusalem! May the Mount Zion model serve as an example for the rest of Jerusalem, and even the entire region.

And here’s the Facebook post in Hebrew about the event:


Atta’a 2016 – 70% Increase in Cases Over 2015!

December 25th, 2016

Well, the numbers are in – as of today, in 2016, Atta’a Assistance Center for the Rights of East Jerusalem Residents took care of 859 cases, nearly 70% more than in 2015! Many of these came from Facebook (232), and the remainder came from visits to the 3 drop-in stations throughout East Jerusalem – Beit Hanina, Wadi Joz and Sur Baher.

At a workshop in Sur Baher

At a workshop in Sur Baher

But the more interesting story is how they got the word out. A lot of the work was canvassing community meetings throughout East Jerusalem, at different community centers such as Issawiya, Wadi Joz and Abna al-Quds in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. They also distributed printed thousands of flyers and distributed them at key locations – the different community centers, Bituach Leumi and Ministry of Interior, East Jerusalem Branches, and more.

This year they also renewed the Atta’a Facebook page, posting updates regularly. To date, the page has over 7,400 likes, and is growing. This year, Atta’a also launched its Internet site, which boasts 500 entrances to the site, 400 of them to its new booklet on rights of East Jerusalem Palestinians at the Ministry of  Interior. Want to read more? We wrote about these accomplishments here and here on our blog.

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for its ongoing support of this project.


Santé Israël – Now in Ra’anana

December 23rd, 2016

We’ve written here and here about Santé Israël and its outreach activities throughout Jerusalem. Last week, they expanded activity to the central part of the country.

Presenting Sante in Ra'anana

Presenting Sante in Ra’anana

Not long ago, Marie, the Santé Israël project coordinator,  gave an introductory workshop about Santé Israël at a French-speaking senior citizens club in Rana’ana.

Marie reports, “We again felt how much people need to receive information. It was a pleasant meeting and people were interested in the project. They asked questions, both about the system and about the web site itself.”

Afterward they distributed flyers to a nearby immigrant absorption center.

And of course, many thanks to the Pharmadom Foundation and the Rashi Foundation for their continuing support of Santé Israël.

Assimilating Cultural Competency into the Very Fiber of Health Care

December 20th, 2016

Second Cohort of Training the Trainers Course

For cultural competency in health care to work, it must be a system-wide implementation. That includes everyone – from administrators to practitioners to researchers at all levels – must undergo training. However, it was found that oftentimes it was difficult for doctors and senior staff to find time for the standard day-long training. The response – a need for shorter workshops, integrated into already-scheduled regular staff meetings. In order for this approach to work, more in-house trainers were needed. Thus was born our second cohort of Training the Trainers in cultural competency in health care, which ended on December 14. (You can read about the first cohort here.)

Graduating class #2

Graduating class #2

Most of the 25 participants come from Jerusalem-based institutions, in the course that is based at the Sha’are Zedek Medical Center. Participating institutions include: ALYN, Assaf Harofeh (near Rishon Lezion), Bnei Zion Hospital in Haifa (Nursing School), Western Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, and 15 from Sha’are Zedek itself.

This second course is an example of how Cultural Competency in Health Care is passing the ownership of and responsibility for culturally competent processes onto the institutions themselves, enabling each to adapt the principles in a way that best meets their individual needs. We can’t wait to see how this program continues to develop.

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for their continuing support of this program. As we have seen over the years, this program is a critical part of the Foundation’s vision and mission to provide opportunities to cultivate shared living in Jerusalem. They were also very excited about the completion of this course, and wrote about it here.


NII – Knowing We’re Having an Impact in Cultural Competency

December 13th, 2016

It’s always nice to be appreciated, but it’s especially nice to know we’re being appreciated in one of the most culturally tense places in Jerusalem – the East Jerusalem branch of the National Insurance Institute (NII).

During the recent site visits

During the recent site visits

We’ve described here how we’ve been working with them over the past year or so. This is groundbreaking work – the first NII branch in Israel to undergo a process of cultural competency training and adaptation, all in one of the most tense, most sensitive areas, East Jerusalem.

We also described here how, as part of this process, we organized site visits of four major organizations with which we’ve worked, so that NII team members could better understand how different aspects of cultural competency are implemented on-the-ground.

Just a few weeks later, we received a thank-you letter. It read:

Dear Hagai,

On behalf of the employees of the East Jerusalem branch of the National Insurance Institute, I would like to express our appreciation and gratitude to the staff of the Jerusalem Intercultural Center, and especially Ms. Orna Shani…[As a result of the site visits] the staff returned excited and challenged to work together to learn lessons [from these experiences] and obtain the right tools for our organization and branch.

…The fact that you chose to invest your best efforts, your time and your knowledge in us is not to be taken for granted. For this we have immense gratitude.

We are only beginning the process, and are pioneers and leaders in the National Insurance Institute.

Waiting for continued joint work,

Eti Ra’anan Ezer


East Jerusalem Branch

In response, Prof. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, National Director of the National Insurance Institute, noted that this was a “unique, significant and worthy activity.”

Here’s a link to the original letter in Hebrew:

NII thank you letter

NII thank you letter

We’re also proud of our joint work with the NII East Jerusalem branch, and look forward to continuing to integrate principles of cultural competency in their important work.

First Annual Conference for Aliyah Absorption Directors: Spreading Cultural Competency throughout Israeli Local Governments

December 10th, 2016

What if all local governments in Israel were culturally competent?

Last week’s first annual conference of Local Authorities’ Aliyah Absorption Directors was the first step in doing just that.

Dr. Hagai Agmon-Snir as the keynote speaker

Dr. Hagai Agmon-Snir as the keynote speaker

The story goes like this: In light of the Jerusalem as a Culturally Competent City conference that we held, together with the Jerusalem Foundation, in May 2016, representatives of the Association of Aliyah Absorption Directors in Local Authorities, including the Director of the Jerusalem Absorption Authority, asked us to help them incorporate subjects relating to cultural competency in their first professional conference.

Of course we agreed, and we helped them build an entire conference around the theme of cultural competency. This conference took place last week, December 5-7, in Jerusalem. Our own director, Dr. Hagai Agmon-Snir, was the keynote speaker. He introduced the concept of cultural competency, and explained how it can be integrated into and contributes to work in the Aliyah Absorption Authority.

After he spoke, four organizations spoke about different ways to implement cultural competency in their organizational culture, all of whom work in cooperation with the JICC. These included: ALYN Rehabilitative Hospital, the Israel Police, the IDF, and a major bank.

Dr. Maurit Be'eri, CEO, ALYN Hospital

Dr. Maurit Be’eri, CEO, ALYN Hospital

The following day we held a round table discussion, in which they shared examples of successes and challenges in their everyday goings-on at their respective authorities, through the prism of cultural competency.

Getting specific in round table discussions

Getting specific in round table discussions

An Insiders View – 0202 Beyond the Screen

December 3rd, 2016

When was the last time you could experience a newspaper from Meah Shearim, or get an inside peek at what goes viral in Silwan? Palestinian and Ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem, two vastly different experiences from the secular-religious Jewish continuum of another 300,000 Jerusalmites. Only a few blocks separate them physically, but they are all worlds apart.

This Facebook event picture basically sums it up

This Facebook event picture basically sums it up

In a truly Jerusalemite way, they all came together last week (November 22) at the Hamiffal cultural space, at the 0202: Beyond the Screen event. The event brought together representatives from the original 0202: A View from East Jerusalem and the newly-launched 0202: A View from Ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem for a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Jerusalem and current events from their different points of view.

Bursting at the seams, with another 750 viewers online

Bursting at the seams, with another 750 viewers online

What does Jerusalem look like? What can we learn from a deeper look at 0202 items? How does East Jerusalem view Ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem, and vice versa? What do the same news items look like as covered from East Jerusalem news sources or from Ultra-Orthodox news sources?

During the evening we were able to look at a number of different indicative posts that enabled panelists to analyze media, reality and the gap in between in ultra-orthodox and east Jerusalem,  crossing social, cultural, and physical borders through Facebook. Panelists included: Hatem Khweis – editor of “Hon” website and “Al-Balad” newspaper; Nasr Temimi – an active resident from Ras el-Amud; Yael Yechieli Persico – Director of Freedom of Religious and Pluralistic Judaism, ShatilBoaz Ben Ari – Photographer, “Haredim 10” News; Ohad Merlin – Editor, “0202 – A View from East Jerusalem”; Yossi Klar – Editor, “0202 – A View from Ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem”; Michal Shilor – Founder and Director, 0202.

From L. to R.: Nasr, Boaz, Yossi, Ohad, Yael, Hatem and Michal

From L. to R.: Nasr, Boaz, Yossi, Ohad, Yael, Hatem and Michal

In all, over 150 people squeezed into the main space at Hamiffal, and another 750 people watched on live stream! You can watch the video of the event here:

Earlier in the day Yossi and Ohad, both editors at 0202, were interviewed on the Galei Israel radio station. Click below to hear the interview in Hebrew.

Congratulations to Michal and the entire 0202 team for another successful Beyond the Screen event. Can’t wait for the next one!

MiniActive – Studying Hebrew to Improve Activism

December 2nd, 2016

Well, the academic year has started, and it’s time to get back to studying Hebrew. We’ve written about MiniActive studying Hebrew here and here. Every year, more and more MiniActive women – and MiniActive are studying Hebrew.

Starting at the beginning with level 1

Starting at the beginning with level 1

The courses take place at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and are operated by the Medabrot Ivrit (Speaking Hebrew) project.

Posing for a picture before class

Posing for a picture before class

This year, we have 210 women – and 50 MiniActive Youth – in three levels, studying Hebrew. This Hebrew will enable the women to communicate with municipal and other officials, write letters, and more.

Learning to communicate with one another

Learning to communicate with one another

We’ve been working with Medabrot Ivrit for several years now, and we’re especially proud this year, after they won first prize in the Jerusalem Foundation‘s Social Innovation Challenge this past September.

Even MiniActive Youth are participating

Even MiniActive Youth are participating

Kol Hakavod to organizers and participants!

Here’s one of the posts from the MiniActive Facebook page: