Blog Category: ‘Cultural Competence’

2016 – What a Year!

January 25th, 2017

As we jump head-first into 2017, we wanted to take a minute to reflect on 2016, and what a year it’s been! Overall, a year of unprecedented growth and development, and we can’t wait to get started in 2017. Here are some highlights:

Cultural Competence

  • The Jerusalem as a Culturally Competent City conference in May 2016, organized jointly by the JICC and the Jerusalem Foundation as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations, was a turning point for the JICC. Attended by hundreds of professionals, from Jerusalem and throughout Israel, the conference presented strides that have been made over the past 10 years, and set the stage for the next step of meeting diverse residents’ diverse needs, in all areas of life.
  • Continued work in the health care system, in Jerusalem and as a model throughout Israel, training in-house coordinators and facilitators to increase sustainability and adaptability within individual institutions. For the first time, work included a national network of hospitals and clinics.
  • Expansive work in the Israel Police Force, reaching most police stations and present and future commanding officials, and continuing to expand training in 2017.
  • Groundbreaking work with the National Insurance Institute (NII), East Jerusalem branch, the first NII branch in the country to undergo a process of cultural competence.
  • In the Jerusalem Municipality, the entire Community Services Administration, which includes welfare, public health, immigrant absorption, and more, is undergoing training, as well as the Auditor’s Office which will be able to look at the entire Municipality’s operations through the prism of cultural competency and sensitivity.
  • Santé Israël, the first web site to make Israel’s health care system accessible to French speakers, celebrated its first birthday. 
Ms. Uzma Shakir, Keynote Speaker

Ms. Uzma Shakir, Keynote Speaker, Jerusalem as a Culturally Competent City conference

Paramedical Professionals

Making healthcare practitioner exams accessible to Arab residents of east Jerusalem

2016 was an important year for us to take stock of the past four years of this program. Our conclusions show that:

  • The number of certified Arab paramedical professionals in East Jerusalem has grown significantly.
  • The program has enabled the JICC to more clearly map the situation of different paramedical professions in east Jerusalem, contributing to the knowledge of training in the Jerusalem area.
  • The awareness both among Palestinian institutes of higher education and health care institutions in east Jerusalem as well as Israeli Ministry of Health has been raised significantly.
  • A large window of opportunity for Arab women paramedical professionals to improve economic opportunities has been opened.

Nurses studying to pass their Israeli certification examinations

Talking Coexistence – Arabic Language Instruction

Both 2015 – 2016 and 2016 – 2017 broke enrollment records. In 2015-16 there were 180 students in 12 classes, over 5 levels. In 2016-2017, there are 240 students in 16 classes, also over 5 levels. We also held several cultural evenings to enrich students’ understanding of Arabic culture. Here’s a short video about the program:

Atta’a Assistance Center for the Rights of East Jerusalem Residents

The Atta’a Center has been in existence since 2004, and in 2015 it came under the aegis of the JICC. In 2016 we have seen:

  • 70% growth in number of requests
  • Ballooning of its Facebook page to over 7,100 ‘likes,’ and launching of its web site.
  • Publication of a widely-referenced booklet on the Ministry of Interior
  • Expansion of network of partners in action, both from NGO’s and advocacy groups as well as municipal and government agencies.

Atta’a Presenting workshops

MiniActive for Arab Residents of East Jerusalem

  • For the first time ever, MiniActive activities led to a change in policy. After months of campaigning, MiniActive led the way toward the addition of 3 million NIS to the annual municipal sanitation budget for east Jerusalem, and 16 million NIS for the purchase of additional equipment for sanitation. As a result of this work, the entire Municipality is focusing their attention on garbage collection throughout
  • In January 2016, MiniActive organized the first ever Arabic language Horticulture Therapy course in Jerusalem for special education teachers, in cooperation with the David Yellin Academic College of Education.
  • Bus stops in entire neighborhoods were repaired and replaced, thanks to MiniActive.
  • 210 women – including 50 youth – are studying Hebrew through a volunteer NGO to improve the effectivity of their activism. This is a record-breaking number, which broke last year’s record of 150 women.
  • In MiniActive Youth for the Environment, teenage girls learn leadership skills while participating in major environment-improving public art and other projects in neighborhoods throughout east Jerusalem.
  • MiniActive became a model for international work, hosting a delegation that works with the Roma population in the Czech Republic in November 2016.

Take a look at MiniActive’s own year in review. It’s pretty easy to understand, even if you don’t know Arabic:

Emergency Readiness Networks

In 2016 we expanded the network to include 14 communities throughout Jerusalem. In addition to training new volunteers, the program included training of existing networks to maintain ability to respond and increase sustainability.

Planning on map

Planning strategy on map

Multicultural Participatory Democracy

In 2016 we mentored community center staffs in Gilo, Kiryat Menachem, Givat Messuah, Baka’a and south Talpiot. For the first time, residents – especially the Ethiopian community in Kiryat Menachem and the highly diverse community of south Talpiot –felt that they were able to influence issues that affected their everyday lives. Training included using Facebook as a community-building tool key to increasing residents’ engagement in community processes.

Writing and submitting objections

Writing and submitting objections in Gilo

Promoting Tolerance in the Public Sphere

Since the summer of 2014 the JICC have been at the forefront of promoting tolerance in Jerusalem. 2016 accomplishments include:

  • A Different Day in Jerusalem celebrated Jerusalem’s diversity through 50 coordinated events, affecting tens of thousands of people on Jerusalem Day. It was the first time such a broad effort has been made to celebrate Jerusalem’s diversity.
  • JICC-mentored Speaking in the Square and other tolerance initiatives that came in their wake led to the redesigning of Zion Square, to be called Tolerance Square. The initiative’s Effective Dialogue methodology spread, and is now being presented in national frameworks.
  • 0202-Points of View from Jerusalem are now liked by nearly 80,000 people and reach some 150,000 people weekly on Facebook and the Internet. The network now includes pages that translate from Arabic to Hebrew, from Arabic to English and one which brings news from the Ultra-Orthodox world to the awareness of the general population.
  • The JICC was asked to be one of the leading organizations in the Coalition of Civil Society Organizations to Promote Tolerance, formed by the Center for Young Adults and the Municipality’s Young Authority.
  • The JICC is continuing to develop Tolerance Network Teams (TNT’s), a series of neighborhood-based and theme-based grassroots initiatives that seek to advance tolerance in Jerusalem.
Elhanan Miller Haaretz article

Haaretz article about A Different Day in Jerusalem

Window to Mount Zion

Since October 2015, Window to Mount Zion has bridged inter-religious and inter-community gaps that have festered between Jewish, Christian and Muslim groups for centuries. As a result of its activity over the past year:

  • In unheard-of cooperation, religious Jewish and Christian groups have issued joint statements condemning hate crimes on Mount Zion.
  • Christian ceremonies, which in the past have caused inter-religious tension, proceeded without incident.
  • The celebration of Christian and Jewish holidays that coincided simultaneously, which in the past had been the source of conflict and tension, also proceeded smoothly.
Window to Mount Zion volunteers

Window to Mount Zion volunteers

Asylum Seekers

The JICC, together with the Jerusalem Municipality, sponsor the only paid public servant in Israel to help asylum seekers, outside of Tel Aviv. We are also part of a consortium of organizations and agencies that seek to meet the needs of asylum seekers living in the city.

Tour of Nahlaot neighborhood

Families of asylum seekers on tour of Nahlaot neighborhood

Thank You!

Many many thanks go out to our partners in action and our donors. You can read about our activities in more detail either by clicking on the hyperlinks above, or by clicking here.

Looking forward to making 2017 even better!

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Santé Israël – Informing All New Immigrants

January 4th, 2017

On December 22, Santé Israël. went to the theater….to help immigrants, not only French-speaking.

They were part of the Olim in Jerusalem festival celebrating immigrants to Jerusalem from all over the world, which took place at the Jerusalem Theater. The Festival featured performances by Jerusalem’s Mikro Theater (Israelis of Russian descent) as well as Esther Rada, an Ethiopian-Israeli singer. It also included a wealth of family-friendly activities and an information fair.

Sante Israel at the Jerusalem Theater

Santé Israël at the Jerusalem Theater

Santé Israël.’s presence at the festival was important not only to provide information to the French-speaking immigrants who participated. They also met with other organizations and projects that help new immigrants, such as AACI’s Shira Pransky Project and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, and discussed different avenues for potential collaborations. Can’t wait to hear what transpires from this!

Many thanks to the to the Pharmadom Foundation and the Rashi Foundation for their continuing support of Santé Israël.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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

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Adapting the Best Type of Cultural Competency at the National Insurance Institute, East Jerusalem Branch

November 15th, 2016

We described here our process of making the East Jerusalem branch of the National Insurance Institute (NII) culturally competent. We began with training sessions in the beginning of the year; now, we’re deepening that learning.

Over the summer we met with the “Excellence Team” of the branch, a dedicated group of 8 professionals who volunteered to improve the level of service given at the branch. They are also in charge of the assimilation of cultural competence principles. During the meetings the group began to develop a training workshop for all workers.

Exercises in Cultural Competence

Exercises in Cultural Competence

As part of this development, the Excellence Team is also going out into the field. Last week they visited four organizations that have already undergone processes of cultural competency adaptation: ALYN Rehabilitative Hospital, Hadassah College, the Municipal Welfare Office in the Bucharim neighborhood, and the David Precint (which includes Mt. Zion and the Old City) of the Police Department. The Team interviewed representatives in order to better understand the processes each one went through, and to see what can be applied to the NII East Jerusalem branch.

At the ALYN Rehabilitative Hospital, for example, the team were surprised and impressed by the (culturally competent) services, and felt that the hospital wasn’t known well enough in East Jerusalem. It seems that they’ve now become ALYN ambassadors in East Jerusalem.

Seminars in and outdoors

Seminars in and outdoors

In the future the Team will also be involved in the planning principles of the new branch, which can also have a significant impact on its cultural competency. Items on the list include: physical accessibility, signage, a nursing room, a prayer room, thinking about if it’s necessary to have separation between men and women, strengthening language among workers, and more.

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System-wide Cultural Competency Training for Israel Police

October 25th, 2016

It might just be our largest – and most wide-ranging – project in Cultural Competency to date. This September, we, together with Mosaica – The Center for Conflict Resolution by Agreement, were tasked – by the Police Force Education Unit, under directive from the Minister of Internal Security and the national Police Commissioner, (!) – with providing 200 cultural competency training  workshops in five out of the seven police regions throughout Israel. When finished, the project will reach most of the tens of thousands of police officers and commanders throughout the country. This process began at the beginning of September and will run through December.

Police in training course

Police in training course

The directive is a direct result of our ongoing work with the police force and its Education Unit, which began last year.  You can read about this previous work with the Israel Police Force, with both officers and trainees, at the National Police Academy and at different police stations, here and here. Indeed, the Israel police force realizes that having culturally competent and culturally sensitive officers can improve their professionalism and their ability to resolve incidents more quickly, more effectively, and hopefully, with less violence.

But this training marathon was on an entirely different scale. Our first step was to hold a 3-day ‘train the trainers’ workshop for the 30 professional facilitators, social workers, community mediators, and more. Their job has been to facilitate the training seminars in police stations throughout the country.

In our work we’ve found that there is already a massive amount of knowledge and awareness of cultural competence and sensitivity – both intuitive and learned – across the different layers, different branches and different locations of the police. One of the main goals of our work with the police is to utilize the knowledge and experience that already exists and teach it in a structured way so that it can become even more widespread, standard practice throughout the 35,000-strong police force.

Much of the 5-hour introductory training taught through case studies. Here is one, from northern Jerusalem:

During the Muslim month of Ramadan, border police noticed a marked increase in violent behavior by Palestinians going through the checkpoints. This was unusual, since Ramadan is a happy time, and even charged places such as a police checkpoint are usually affected (positively) by the month-long holiday. In response, officers from the border police held a meeting with local Muslim leaders, to try and get to the bottom of the problem. The leaders noted that this year, the border police were using police dogs as part of their routine checks, and that there was a special sensitivity to these dogs, especially since the people were hurrying to the Mosque. The border police stopped using the dogs, and the situation was much calmer at the checkpoints.

At other times, case studies are used to spark discussion:

A man of Ethiopian descent calls the police hotline, “Help! Someone left a sunny-side-up egg outside my door!” (This means he’s been threatened with murder.) What do you do? How do you respond?

An ultra-Orthodox woman calls the police hotline, complaining of domestic violence. The patrol that is closest includes a female officer, who is supposed to confront the ultra-Orthodox man. How should this be handled most effectively?

Each station focused on a particular population group, often one with which they have specific contact. Thus, for example, one station in the Jerusalem city center chose to focus on the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish population. Another, in northern Jerusalem, focused on the Palestinian population. (We’d worked with them before, and then they’d undergone a special workshop on the Ethiopian-Israeli population, since there is a large concentration there.) A station in Natanya focused on French-speakers.

Learning the principles of cultural competency

Learning the principles of cultural competency

In addition to the standard workshop content we also invited expert lecturers to provide a more in-depth understanding. For example, in Natanya the director of the Elem organization, himself a native French-speaker, was brought in to speak about the Francophone youth in the city, their approaches toward the police, and ideas of how to improve connections with the police in order to improve the public order.

We understand the challenge of integrating these principles into the everyday work of tens of thousands of police officers who face a myriad of complex situations every day. But we’re excited to be part of the process.

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On Our Way to Making the Entire Jerusalem Municipality Culturally Competent

October 15th, 2016

If making Jerusalem a culturally competent city is to continue to be one of our main goals, then making the Municipality Culturally Competent is one of our major tasks. The task is huge – there are dozens of municipal departments and thousands – if not tens of thousands – of municipal workers.

Slowly but surely, we’re working our way through. In the summer we began in-depth processes with the Community Services Administration, one of the Municipality’s main arms. You can read more about it here.  We’ve also begun working with the Comptroller’s office.

Learning about Mt. Zion from a Window to Mt. Zion perspective

Learning about Mt. Zion from a Window to Mt. Zion perspective

Last week, on October 6, staff from the Comptroller’s office had an intensive learning experience in cultural competency, with Mount Zion as a case study. They first had a tour of Mount Zion by Merav, coordinator of our Window to Mount Zion project, with an emphasis on some of the many stories of cultural competence that the project has facilitated over the past year, from enabling Christian pilgrims to enter David’s Tomb for a short time during the Orthodox Christian Pentacost (in years past this has caused violent reactions by Jewish devotees), to sharing the Mount on the during the weekend when the Jewish holiday of Purim and the Catholic and Protestant celebration of Easter. (You can read more about the Window to Mount Zion project here and here, and about Purim / Easter here.)

After learning about the uniqueness of Mount Zion and the Window to Mount Zion project, we presented the Comptroller’s office staff with a general overview of the principles of cultural competency at our home on Mount Zion. This began the discussion on how to integrate these principles into the everyday work of the Comptroller’s office.

They told us how excited they were to see these areas in person. They’d dealt with a lot of issues on Mt. Zion, but had never had the introduction and explanations that we gave them. They were happy to get that different perspective.

We’ll keep you posted on future developments.

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Our Cultural Competency Training for Police Makes Walla! News Site

October 10th, 2016

Did you hear about the time when the police came into an tempestuous situation involving Ethiopians/Haredim/Arabs, and they succeeded in calming the waters, without incident and without anyone getting hurt?

Not usually your top headline. However, that is what we, together with the Israel Police Force, are striving for. We’ve been working with the Police over the past year to instill principles of cultural competency into the everyday training. You can read about this work with both officers and trainees, at the National Police Academy and at different police stations, here and here.

Recently, this ongoing training was covered by Walla! news in Hebrew, a major Internet news site in Israel. Click here to for the link to the entire article and accompanying video in Hebrew.  Click here to view a PDF version of the article.

Walla article

Walla article

How will this training affect police officers’ responses to everyday incidents? David Shoshan, one of the officers in the training course, noted in the video above, that:

The training basically opened my eyes to the different populations we serve. That, when we’re called to an incident, I might need to act a little differently, try to respect the people’s particular customs. Our main goal is to try to ensure that the incident is over as quickly as possible, that it’s been dealt with in the most professional manner as possible, in the calmest way possible, so that we can do our jobs as best as possible.

Thanks David. Let’s hope the other tens of thousands of police officers throughout Israel were paying attention as well.

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