Blog Category: ‘Ethiopian Jews’

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!

Print Friendly

Cultural Competency Training for Municipal Community Department

July 22nd, 2016

Cultural Competency – we’ve talked a lot about it, on the blog and on our website, but what is it really?

When we began that discussion some ten years ago, we focused on the health care context. Indeed, if health care services are not culturally competent and sensitive to the vast diversity of cultures in Jerusalem and throughout Israel, it really can be a life or death situation.

Cultural Competency at Hadassah Hospital

Cultural Competency at Hadassah Hospital

But Cultural Competency is so much more than that. In those past ten years, we’ve developed and refined our definition of  Cultural Competency to encompass much of our entire approach to community work: All residents have the right to receive basic services (health, education, welfare) that are culturally adapted to best suit their needs. Cultural Competent services enable professionals to provide those services most effectively, and culturally competent residents are empowered to most effectively access these rights and services. You can read about the most recent work we’ve done to advance cultural competency in a number of fields – in health, the police, the workplace, academia. Now, we’re proud to be officially providing widespread training in the Jerusalem Municipality.

Training senior municipal professionals

Training senior municipal professionals

We’ve been working with the municipal welfare department for several years, facilitating workshops for them here and there, providing critical assistance in emergency situations (like the Haredi mother who was accused of starving her child). All the while, we were looking for ways to introduce cultural competency in a systemic way.

A few weeks ago it began. Not only the welfare department, with which we’d been working before, but the entire Social Services Department, which includes the Welfare Department, the Employment Authority, the Absorption Authority and the Public Health. About 80 senior officials from all the different Departments are participating in the first five workshops, which we are now taking place. The workshops introduce principles of the tools and insights of cultural competency.  But this is only the beginning. In the future we expect to hold workshops adapted to the different areas – veterinary services, well-baby clinics, absorption authority, daycare frameworks, welfare workers and social workers, and more.  All will undergo workshops led by those trained to lead cultural competency workshops.

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for its continued support of the Cultural Competency program throughout the years.

Print Friendly

JICC Completes Training Course for Police Commanders

July 14th, 2016

What is it like to be a police officer, and be responsible for keeping order and enforcing the law?

Police officers everywhere are on the front lines of law enforcement, bringing them into contact with a vast diversity of people. All too often, as we’ve recently seen in the USA as well as in Israel, events can get out of hand very quickly.

Protesting police treatment in Israel

Protesting police treatment in Israel July 3, 2016

The Israel Police understands the complexities of working with Israel’s different – and sometimes conflicting – population groups, and for the past year we at the JICC have been working with various ranks and groups in cultural competency training.

Israel police officers

Israel police officers

Last week we finished a course for police officials at the National Police Academy. The 50 course graduates, Superintendents and Chief Superintendents, represent the next generation of commanding officers in the Israel Police. Each will command soon a police station or a large police unit. The JICC has been mentoring the course for the past six months, from introducing them to the concept, to integrating cultural competency into different areas of the training course, and in writing a module in the unit commander’s file – on how to operate a culturally competent unit. We, together with the course participants, edited the comprehensive file. In the summary meeting of the course that was held with the Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh, the entire course’s work was presented. This included recommendations and tools on how to manage and operate a culturally competent police unit. The JICC, together with the officers of the course and the staff of the National Police Academy, will continue to work to advance the use of these recommendations within the Israel Police.

Print Friendly

Continuing to Advance Cultural Competency in Jerusalem Health Care Systems

June 18th, 2016

At the recent Jerusalem as a Culturally Competent City conference we called cultural competency for health care professionals, ‘advanced cultural competency.’ But it doesn’t matter if they’re advanced or just starting out. One of the main takeaways from the conference was that cultural competency is an ongoing process that needs to be constantly reviewed and re-visited.

So last week, on June 7, we continued the process for cultural competency coordinators from Jerusalem HMO’s and hospitals with a joint meeting and peer learning session. There were representatives from the ALYN Rehabilitative Hospital, Hadassah Mt. Scopus as well as Ein Kerem campuses, Sha’are Zedek, and Meuchedet, Maccabi and Leumit HMO’s.

Exercises in principles of cultural competency

Exercises in principles of cultural competency

The goal of the meeting was to discuss challenges the coordinators have in assimilating principles of cultural competency in the different health care institutions. Issues included:

  • Including doctors in the training;
  • Assimilating telephone interpreting into everyday use;
  • Coping with the loneliness of the position;
  • Lack of resources;
  • Strategies of dealing with workers who refuse to show cultural sensitivity;
  • Working on Shabbat, and more.

Participants shared tips and suggestions from their experiences. In addition, Dr. Michal Schuster presented part of the recently-published research she conducted with Irit Elroy and Ido Elmakais regarding accessibility to signage in public and government hospitals. Michal was gave participants suggestions on how to better adapt signage and make it more accessible to different cultures.

Many of the participants said they felt the meeting was a great help and that they wished to continue to meet on a regular basis.

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for its continuing support of this program.

Print Friendly

A Tribute to Svetlana Fedotenko – From Project Manager’s Course to True Activism

June 15th, 2016

Sometimes events make you take stock. We were forced to do that a few weeks ago, with the passing of Svetlana Fedotenko.


Svetlana Fedotenko

We first met Svetlana in the interviews to one of our first Project Managers Course some 12 years ago.  She was the Absorption Coordinator in the Katamonim neighborhood, and it was she who accepted herself into the course, not the other way around.  Within a short time Svetlana taught us a chapter on activism. She came with a dream that had nothing to do with her job – she wanted to establish a music center in the Katamonim.

We learned a lot about effective activism from Svetlana, even before we coined the term. People rejected her idea left and right. But when they threw her out the front door, she came back in through the window, finding ways to advance her ideas despite the rejections. Instead of fighting with people (a very ineffective technique that many activists love), she always found a way to bring people over to her side.

At the end of the course she caused us to convince the Partnership 2000 project of the Jewish Agency and the UJA Federation of New York to give her $20,000 for the project. Eran Ovadia, a hi-tech professional and music lover, was a consultant in our course and became her personal mentor and mentor to the project, and she was on her way. Year after year she gritted her teeth and raised a little more money each time.  Even when the going was tough, she managed to find just one more partner, and then another, who couldn’t resist her charms. It was always just enough to keep it all going.

The events in the Katamonim were amazing – one minute a Persian singer, another a rock band of Russian youth from the neighborhood, and then a flute ensemble of Ethiopian children, and then the neighborhood Kurdish dance troupe. She and her team built a music center to be proud of.

It wasn’t by chance that when the Community Center Director had to suggest how a new community building would be used, he suggested it be a music center. Today, the Gonenim Music Center is a huge and impressive building that attracts residents from the neighborhood and throughout the city to study and to experience music. And all this because of Svetlana’s amazing activism, that continued to be the spirit of the Center.

While this was happening, she became sick and it developed into cancer. She would rest and work, work and rest, and not give up. Six months ago we found out that it was the end, that she had days, maybe weeks, to live. We helped to quickly organize a tribute in her honor. Very quickly we organized an amazing evening. We were all very emotional. She looked so healthy then.

And Svetlana being Svetlana, those weeks turned into months, and a few weeks ago she passed away. She left behind a memorable heritage – an amazing music center, and a spirit of stubborn activism that insists on outcomes and uncompromising success.

And on that evening six months ago, she told us that the only thing she’s sorry about is that she won’t realize her next dream. “Jerusalem is so dirty,” she said. “I already have a name for a project in which children and youth in Jerusalem work to ensure that the city is clean – The Little Prince.”


Because this sentence from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s story had stuck in her head:

“It’s an issue of discipline,” the little prince explained afterward. “After we finish the morning washing up, we must dutifully make sure that the planet is clean.”

So now we’ve been left with Svetlana’s project, and we know that since no one can stand in her way, it’ll have to happen, even if she’s passed away. The little prince is making sure that the Jerusalem planet is clean. May we be able to fulfill that dream, for her, and for ourselves.

May her memory be blessed.

Print Friendly

“A Different Day in Jerusalem” – Painting the Town Tolerant on Jerusalem Day

June 6th, 2016

Thank you Jerusalem. Thank you Jerusalemites. You helped us to re-claim Jerusalem Day via a variety of activities designed to promote tolerance, and we lit up the city!

Finally, a day that enables us, Jerusalemites, to respect one another and for us all to have a voice. Indeed, with all the sensitivities surrounding this day, Jerusalem Day is the most important time to emphasize the need for a more tolerant Jerusalem for all the various identities and groups living here. It was about Jews and Arabs, Jewish denominations, Christians and Muslims, transgenders, asylum seekers and refugees, Jewish Olim, etc.

"Tarbuth" tour on the Haredi-non-Haredi seamline

“Tarbuth” tour on the Haredi-non-Haredi seamline

It was a tidal wave of tolerant events in Jerusalem. More than 50 projects, programs, initiatives, events, concerts, tours, activities, discussions, readings, yoga and more, all showing respect to other people in Jerusalem. Tens of thousands of people (probably even more, but who’s counting?) were exposed to and participated in lectures, tours, discussions and events; saw us and our signs and exhibits on the streets, heard us on the radio, debated with us, read about us in the newspapers and on Facebook.

Most important – it was not just us – it was a mass effort of vastly diverse people and initiatives. The many events were produced and organized by many groups of activists all around the city who responded to our call and made it happen. We helped, mentored, supported, integrated, solved issues, coordinated the combined internet site, Facebook event, flyer etc. We worked really hard…. but most of the energy was put out by the hundreds of activists who did the work. It is extremely important, since this makes it sustainable (people are already sure that it will become an annual tradition…) and also because it means that the success belongs not to us, but to all the residents of Jerusalem.

"Another Day in Jerusalem" Flyer

“Another Day in Jerusalem” Flyer

We started on Saturday afternoon, with a different tour of Katamon, as well as a tour on Jerusalem’s seam line between east and west.

A Different Katamon

A Different Katamon

Later on, we heard doctoral student Eran Tzidkiyahu and journalist  Elhanan Miller at the Nocturno Cafe, discussing the national influences of local ideologies. Here’s a video of that event (in Hebrew):

After stopping for coffee we moved on to Zion Square, where Speaking in the Square held their famous debate. The debates were about the Temple Mount, Jerusalem Day parades in the Muslim Quarter, and dividing Jerusalem with walls. There were people representing the entire political and religious spectrum, and the energy was incredible! Throughout the night several hundred people passed by, stopped for a few minutes, and listened, spoke, discussed, debated. All in a very Jerusalemite way, respectfully.

Speaking in the Square

Speaking in the Square

“It was fascinating to see people from very different political and religious views sit down and debate the issues in a constructive and respectful way,” said Daniel, an onlooker. “Wonderful to see great positive energy pushing back at the too often feelings of despair.”

The next morning we were on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet drive time morning show, “Seder Yom with Keren Neubach,” together with representatives from the Yerushalmim Movement and Machon Shacharit, who also participated in A Different Day in Jerusalem. Here’s the link to the interview. It was also posted on Shacharit’s Facebook page (in Hebrew):

At 11, we went to a Ju Jitsu workshop entitled, “The Connection between Mediation, Ju Jitsu and Acceptance of the Other,” which was held together with Mosaica – The Center for Conflict Resolution by Agreement and the Jerusalem School of Traditional Ju Jitsu.

Between Ju Jitsu, Mediation and Acceptance of the Other

Between Ju Jitsu, Mediation and Acceptance of the Other

After a short break, activities started up again in the afternoon. At 2:30 pm, our own Merav Horowitz, Director of the Window on Mt. Zion project, led a tour of Mt. Zion entitled, “Status Quo and Tolerance.”

Learning about relations between the religions on Mt. Zion

Learning about relations between the religions on Mt. Zion

Meanwhile, downtown, the Ruach Nachon Mechina Post Secondary Leadership Academy stationed themselves opposite Safra Square, a key location that many tourists and visitors passed by as they made their way toward the Old City. They greeted the throngs of passersby with music, inviting them to share their visions and wishes for Jerusalem. They also led tolerance activities on the Jerusalem light rail.

With music and blessings for Jerusalem

With music and blessings for Jerusalem

For those wishing to send messages of peace to Israel’s neighbors, Hamabul Collective’s “Jerusalem Says Hello” project enabled them to do so.

A little later, events gained momentum and were happening simultaneously. Downtown, members of Tag Meir distributed flowers to Palestinian residents of the Old City. And huge placards of poetry in Hebrew and Arabic, written by Jewish Israeli and Muslim poets, and translated into the ‘other’ language, could be seen along Jaffa Road. Anyone and everyone walking or marching down Jaffa Road that day, saw those signs.

Jewish and Muslim poets for all to see

Jewish and Muslim poets for all to see

At the same time, in the south of the city, the Yerushalemim Movement held its Jerusalem Day Family Parade along the Jerusalem Railway Park. A thousand men, women and children celebrated the day. There was also a workshop for children at the Reading Station on the Railway Park, as well as a story hour operated by the Talpiot Tolerance Team.

Jerusalem Day Family Parade

Jerusalem Day Family Parade

As evening descended, events continued – multicultural parties, salon meetings, musical performances and concerts, including a “Chafla” at the Tahrir Bar and a discussion on: The Temple Mount: An Opportunity for Inter-religious Tolerance, with (newly sworn in) Likud MK Yehuda Glick and Yariv Oppenheimer, General Director of the Peace Now movement, moderated by veteran journalist Peggy Cidor.

Inter-religious Chafla at the Tahrir

Inter-religious Chafla at the Tahrir

Rounding out the evening was the event by 0202 – A View from East Jerusalem – which interviewed journalists from different sectors about their individual sector’s news coverage of Jerusalem Day. We heard the point of view of the local Palestinian population, the local Ultra-Orthodox population, the religious population and others. It was fascinating.

And this was just a sampling of the 50 events and activities that took place throughout the city. Here is a selected list of main events in English, and here is a complete list in Hebrew.

Our dedicated web site,, also helped people know about and navigate the different events.

We received a good deal of press coverage as well. Some can be seen in previous posts we had here:

Another example was in the Ha’aretz daily newspaper. You can read in in PDF format here.

Elhanan Miller Haaretz article

Elhanan Miller Haaretz article

We also appeared on the home page of the Washington Times! Here’s the link to the article. You can read a .pdf of the article here.

Washington Times front page

Washington Times front page

And, of course, in the Jerusalem Post, after as well as before the event:

Pride not Prejudice, Jerusalem Post

Pride not Prejudice, Jerusalem Post


Did you see our Michal Shilor on TV describing “A Different Day in Jerusalem”? Here it is, in case you missed (in Hebrew):

And this was just a sample of the press coverage…

Many, many thanks to our partners in this project: UJA-Federation of New York, the Jerusalem Foundation, This is Jerusalem, Jerusalem Center for Young Adults.

Print Friendly

“Jerusalem as a Culturally Competent City” Conference

June 1st, 2016

In what other setting could you find the Jewish Mayor of Jerusalem introduced in both Hebrew and Arabic, followed by the President of the Jerusalem Foundation, herself addressing the audience in English, Hebrew and Arabic, followed by a Muslim Canadian keynote speaker of Pakistani origin? Only at the “Jerusalem as a Culturally Competent City” conference, which we hosted, along with the Jerusalem Foundation, at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Tuesday, May 17.

It was the culmination of 10 years of working to advance cultural competency, together with the Jerusalem Foundation. What began as focusing on health care, at the ALYN Rehabilitative Hospital, at Clalit primary care clinics and at the Hadassah Medical Center Mount Scopus has blossomed into a concept that encompasses all fields and all sectors, in Jerusalem and throughout Israel.

Opening the conference in Arabic and Hebrew

Opening the conference in Arabic and Hebrew

Throughout the day over 300 people participated, listening to over 70 speakers. They came from all walks of life, from all different fields. We had professionals from the municipality, senior officials in planning, education, welfare and community life. We had researchers and leaders from colleges, universities and think tanks. We had active community residents. We had professionals from a wide range of NGO’s. We had the Israel Police and the IDF. We had Christian and Muslim Arabs, some residents of East Jerusalem, some not. We had secular, traditional, religious and ultra-Orthodox Jews. The entire day was conducted with Arabic, Hebrew and English on equal footing. (You can see the tri-lingual program here.) We had it all. We had Jerusalem in all its wonderful diversity.

Tri-lingual invitation

The tri-lingual invitation

Throughout the day, we discussed ways that service providers, in all fields, can make their services equally accessible to all of Jerusalem’s populations, making them culturally competent. And on the residents’ side, we discussed ways that they can work to improve their own access to these rights and services, many of which are guaranteed them by law. We discussed strategies and challenges, and the process in between. It was fascinating, exhilarating and downright riveting.

Ms. Uzma Shakir, Keynote Speaker

Ms. Uzma Shakir, Keynote Speaker

Mayor Nir Barkat opened the conference, saying: “The starting point for any activity that we do in Jerusalem is the city’s unique DNA, which is unlike any other city in the world.” When the city was founded, more than 3,000 years ago, “its gates were open to everyone, all tribes, Jewish and not…No one felt like they were a guest in Jerusalem…Everyone found their place,” he continued. It is this philosophy, where everyone finds their place, that informs us to this day.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat at conference

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat at conference

Yohanna Arbib-Perugia, President of the Jerusalem Foundation, was the next speaker. She emphasized the important role of cultural competence in a diverse and unique city as Jerusalem. Seeing the Jerusalem Intercultural Center as a strategic partner of the Foundation, she believes that the focus of the Foundation on cultural competence will deepen in the coming years.

Uzma Shakir, Director of the Office of Equity, Diversity and Human Rights, City of Toronto, was the keynote speaker. She described the processes taking place in Toronto and throughout Canada regarding multiculturalism and cultural competency, which include developing approaches appropriate to the vastly different population groups in Canada, from the native populations to the Francophone community of Quebec to recent immigrants from south Asia and elsewhere. She first defined the role of cultural competency:

Cultural competency can be viewed in two ways: it can either be seen as paternalistic and prescriptive – something you do for others who have either limited or unequal power to claim their rights; or transformative and critical – consciously producing spaces that address those power differentials in a meaningful manner and eventually lead to an equitable and just society. In other words, cultural competency can mean being nice to people while maintaining the status quo of inequality or it can mean empowering marginalized people to take control over their own destiny and to change the conditions in society to produce equitable and just outcomes for all. However, this requires an honest recognition of who is marginalized and then consciously co-creating the conditions for inclusion. In this sense, Toronto has its challenges just like Jerusalem and provides some compelling lessons.

She explained the desired outcome of culturally competent processes through this picture:

Three views of Equity

Three views of Equity

In the first approach, existing infrastructures render services equally for different people. However, since people’s needs are different, equal provision of services does not create proper equality. In the second approach, adjustments are made, often ad hoc, to be able to work within the existing infrastructure to provide services in a way that responds differently to the different needs. In the third approach, infrastructure is built from the start with the different needs of different people in mind, to enable each to meet his or her particular needs in the best way possible.

Here is Ms. Shakir’s full speech:

For the speech in written form, click here.


Discussing challenges to cultural competency

Discussing challenges to cultural competency

Following the opening session, four parallel sessions addressed different aspects of cultural competency. These included, “Setting & Implementing Cultural Competence Policy in An Organization,” “Cultural Competence in the Public Sphere,” “Coping with Social and Political Tensions in a Multicultural City,” and “Cultural Competence Activities of the Community.” Speakers included the directors of the Bloomfield Science Museum Jerusalem, Museum of Islamic Art, the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens, the ALYN Hospital Pediatric Rehabilitation Center, the Haredi College, community centers from around the city, senior officials in the Municipality, and many, many more.

Setting and implementing cultural competence in organizations

Setting and implementing cultural competence policy in organizations

Even lunch was an exercise in cultural competency. Different foods were labeled with no translation in a range of languages – from Amharic to Russian to Polish and more. Choosing food at the buffet became a funny challenge….

How do you say salmon in Amharic?

How do you say salmon in Amharic?

After lunch the plenary session discussed major organizations’ efforts to make their services culturally competent. Speakers ranged from the Director of Community Services Administration in the Jerusalem Municipality, the President of Hadassah Academic College, the Director of the Jerusalem Center for Mental Health, and the Commander of the David Precinct of the Israel Police (which includes the all resident quarters of the Old City (Christian Quarter, Muslim Quarter, Armenian Quarter, Jewish Quarter), plus sites such as the Western Wall, the Temple Mount  / Haram al-Sharif, Mount Zion and the David’s Tomb complex). The final parallel sessions discussed case studies in cultural competency in different fields – education, health care (This was considered ‘advanced cultural competency’ since indeed our work began in health care some 10 years ago.), arts and culture and community activism toward tolerance.

Our heartfelt thanks go to the Jerusalem Foundation for their partnership and support over these past 10 years. And many congratulations on their 50th anniversary celebrations, of which this conference was a part.

It was the first conference surveying cultural competency in Jerusalem. Will there be another? Stay tuned to find out.

Looking for more? Here’s the video of the entire opening session:

Print Friendly

Toward an Alternative Jerusalem Day – Call for Programs on Diversity

May 18th, 2016

Jerusalem Day. This year it comes out on Sunday, June 5. What a better opportunity to discuss about the city we love? One day to reflect on its history, its peoples, its diversity. Well, not so easy….

As our own Michal Shilor recently said in the local Kol Ha’Ir newspaper, “Over the last few years we are witnessing more and more incidents of hate and violence on Jerusalem Day… I’m excited to be a part of making this city more tolerant …on this tension-filled day. Most of us are looking for a different way to mark Jerusalem Day, one that respects and marks Jerusalem’s political, social and cultural diversity.”

Jerusalem day is the most important time to emphasize the need for a more tolerant Jerusalem for all of the various identities and groups living here. This year, we will re-claim Jerusalem Day through a variety of activities designed to promote tolerance – “A Different Day in Jerusalem!

Jerusalem Day 2016: A Different Day in Jerusalem

Jerusalem Day 2016: A Different Day in Jerusalem

Together with a number of major partners in Jerusalem – This is Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Foundation, the UJA-Federation of New York, the Jerusalem Young Adults Center and more – we have lined up cross all sectors and groups – religious, secular, men, women, all languages and faiths, political right , left and center. The idea – to encourage a broad range of initiatives engaging a wide variety of populations and to flood the city with activities marking Jerusalem’s diversity.

Practicing effective dialogue in Zion Square

Practicing effective dialogue in Zion Square

Thus far we have a long list (more than 40), and the list is growing. Events will be taking place all over the city, from Saturday evening, June 4 through to Sunday evening, June 5. See the map of all the events:

Map of events

Map of events

To further these events and develop new initiatives, we held an Open Space Technology meeting on Sunday, May 15. Already-registered initiatives refined their programs, and new initiatives were presented.

Vandalized sign

Reporting vandalized sign to be fixed

In all, 10 initiatives were discussed. They included an inter-religious study session of religious texts, reporting defamed signs throughout the downtown Jerusalem area, educational activities in schools, an Effective Dialogue workshop at Zion Square, cleaning the roof of a multi-cultural art studio, panel discussions, and more. They were added to a growing list of events designed to highlight Jerusalem’s diversity. A full and updated list can be found on the event’s web page:

Different types of activities listed on the site

Different types of activities listed on the site

And here’s the Hebrew invite to the Open Space Technology Facebook event.

And here’s the Hebrew invite to the “A Different Day in Jerusalem” Facebook event.

Print Friendly

Creating a Different Jerusalem Day – “a Different Day in Jerusalem”

April 19th, 2016

As our name states, we’re all about Jerusalem. Especially about Jerusalem and all its cultures, ethnicities, religions, nationalities. On this upcoming Jerusalem Day, we, together with a number of prominent Jerusalem-based partners seek to show this love for Jerusalem, in a way that is different than what has developed in recent years. We were recently featured in an article in the local Kol Ha’ir newspaper. Click on the picture for the PDF version:

The Hebrew article, from Friday, April 15

The Hebrew article, Friday, April 15

In the article, Michal Shilor, our coordinator for the Grassroots Campaign to Promote Tolerance in Jerusalem, said,

“Over the last few years we are witnessing more and more incidents of hate and violence on Jerusalem Day. Many of the events that take place in the city do not leave room for most of the city’s residents to mark that day in a tolerant manner, and I, like many residents of the city, hide away at home or leave the city on that day in order to get away from the blatant racism that is expressed in the streets on that day. This year, I’m excited to be a part of making this city more tolerant in general, and on this tension-filled day in particular. Most of us are looking for a different way to mark Jerusalem Day, one that respects and celebrates Jerusalem’s political, social and cultural diversity – and now we have a chance.”

This initiative, called, “a Different Day in Jerusalem“, is a collaboration between the Jerusalem Intercultural Center, This is Jerusalem, the Young Adults Center and the Jerusalem Foundation. It is supported by the UJA-Federation of New York .

There’s already a long list of projects and programs taking part in the day’s events. On Sunday, May 15 we’ll be holding an additional Open Space Technology meeting to garner even more.

Here’s the link to the Facebook event (Hebrew).

And this is the link to the internet site that features all the events of “a Different Day in Jerusalem.

Mark your calendars for June 5. It’s going to be something special!

Print Friendly

New Neighborhood Tolerance Team in Talpiot!

April 10th, 2016

How do you celebrate Shabbat? Tell us your Shabbat story…

Telling different Shabbat stories

Telling different Shabbat stories

This is what the newly-formed Talpiot Tolerance Team did in their opening event, which took place on Friday afternoon, April 1.

Event with Jerusalem's diversity

Event with Jerusalem’s diversity

Shabbat means different things to different people. For a short time on that Friday afternoon, Ultra-Orthodox (Chabad), Ethiopian, secular and traditional Jews all experienced together their own Kabbalat Shabbat, enjoying the traditions as well as their own interpretations.

Taking Challah before baking Challot

Traditional taking of Challah before baking Challot

Advertisements to this event were prepared in Amharic as well as Hebrew, and there was a true Jerusalem mix of people at the event.

Amharic poster

Amharic poster

The Talpiot Tolerance team is one of a growing network of Neighborhood Tolerance Teams that are being formed throughout Jerusalem. Each team is acting independently, and advancing tolerance in ways that the team members feel are most appropriate for them. There are currently teams in French Hill, Abu Tor / Al-Thuri, Katamonim, Katamon-German Colony, Baka’a, Rehavia, Nahlaot, and more are being formed each week.

Everyone's hands knead the Challah

Everyone’s hands knead the Challah

Many thanks to the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jerusalem Foundation for their support in promoting tolerance in Jerusalem.

Many forms of Challah

Many forms of Challah

Here are some more pictures from the Facebook post on the event from the Hebrew-language Jerusalem Tolerance Facebook group:

Print Friendly