Blog Category: ‘New Immigrants’

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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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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The People are the Story – Katamon-Moshavot Tolerance Group Meets in the Public Sphere

September 30th, 2016

The people are story…..

That’s the main principle behind our work to promote tolerance throughout Jerusalem. Beyond preventing acts of verbal and physical violence against the ‘other,’ in our view tolerance can be displayed not only towards those very different from you (Arabs, Haredim, etc.), but those closest to you in physical proximity – your neighbors. And the first step is to get to know those neighbors as people, not only the way we tag them.

Last year our Katamon-Moshavot Tolerance Group, Neighborhood Stories, met a number of times to share neighbors’ stories. This past Saturday (24th of September), they kicked off the activity year with a charming meeting outdoors, on the Jerusalem Railway Park.

The People are the Story at the Reading Corner

The People are the Story at the Reading Corner

Tamar, one of the organizers of the meeting, described how it went:

“Wow! What a meeting of Neighborhood Stories we had on Shabbat afternoon at the Moshava Reading Corner! Geto told about his aliyah to Israel with his mother from southern Ethiopia and shared the pain of this adolescence, Rami from Beit Safafa shared how he found himself both as a professional soccer player in the Palestinian league and a firefighter in the Israeli system, on his way to becoming a social worker. Eliezer Ben Yehuda (the grandson) told about his childhood in Katamon in a 4-room apartment with a Christian family and a Muslim family in a common kitchen….and more and more. And to think that this was a spontaneous meeting on the grass, neighbors passing by and sharing their stories and many more stopping and listening. Many thanks to you all!”

Here’s the Facebook post in Hebrew:

Many thanks to the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jerusalem Foundation for their support of this project.

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Bon anniversaire, Santé Israël! Happy Birthday Santé Israël!

September 20th, 2016

Bon anniversaire, Santé Israël!

Happy first birthday, Santé Israël!

Just one year ago on September 1, 2015, Sante Israel, www.sante.org.il, which we developed in partnership with the Pharmadom Foundation and the Rashi Foundation, and the first web site that makes Israel’s health care system accessible to French speakers, went live. The site is a treasure trove of information about all aspects of the Israeli health care system, and enables French speakers to more easily navigate the system.

The Sante Israel web site

The Sante Israel web site

Over the year some 10,000 people visited the site, most from Israel but also 2,000 from France. The most popular page on the site was and continues to be the database of French-speaking professionals and clinics in different fields in Israel. Other popular pages include contact numbers, the page that directs you to the nearest clinic or hospital via the Waze mobile app, the page that tells you what your favorite medication is called in Israel, and more. And if you had any questions that weren’t on the site, you can ask the Director of Santé Israël, Marie Avigad, and she answered every query very quickly.

This past year Santé Israël did not stay behind the screen, and went out into the community to continue to make Israel’s health care system more accessible to French speakers.

Discussing health under the stars

Discussing health under the stars in Baka’a

They held a number of community meetings throughout Jerusalem, in areas such as Bayit Vegan, Baka’a and Har Homa, which have sizable Francophone communities.

Sante in Har Homa

Sante in Har Homa

They developed a Facebook page, which provides updates on a variety of health-related issues, as well as news of the Santé Israël community. They spread the word about new Israeli inventions relating to health care:

New developments by the different HMO’s

As well as health warnings and updates from the Ministry of Health (such as recent salmonella warnings and other potential health hazards).

They participated in the Jerusalem as a Culturally Competent City Conference that was held in cooperation with the Jerusalem Foundation on May 17, 2016.

Sante Israel together with other health care organizations at the Cultural Competency conference

Sante Israel together with other health care organizations at the Cultural Competency conference

And they participated in the  “Olimpiada” Aliyah information fair for French-speaking new immigrants, which was held at Sacher Park in the middle of town and was organized by Qualita .

"The first site to respond in French to your questions about the Israeli health care system

“The first site to respond in French to your questions about the Israeli health care system”

In addition, Santé Israël just began a partnership with AMI Israel, which helps French-speaking Olim in Israel. And Santé Israël has its own page on the AMI Israel web site. Here’s the Facebook post from Santé Israël:

So Mazal Tov to Santé Israël! May you have many more happy birthdays.

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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.

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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.

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Santé Israël at the Olimpiada Aliya Fair for French Speaking Olim

July 5th, 2016

One of the first things you do as an Oleh Hadash, or new immigrant to Israel, is become a member of one of Israel’s 4 national Kupot Holim, or HMOs. And so begins our saga with the Israeli health system.

At the Sante Israel table

At the Sante Israel table

If you’re lucky, and you’re a French-speaker, you now have the Santé Israël web site, developed and operated by the JICC cultural competence team, and more specifically by our Marie Avigad. Santé Israël describes the ins and outs of the health care system in Israel, which is quite different than that of France and other French-speaking countries.

"The first site to respond in French to your questions about the Israeli health care system

“The first site to respond in French to your questions about the Israeli health care system.”

Last Thursday, Marie represented the Santé Israël website and online community (here’s a link to its Facebook page as well) at the “Olimpiada” Aliyah information fair for French-speaking new immigrants, which was held at Sacher Park in the middle of town and was organized by Qualita . There were dozens of booths and tables offering services and information.

Many booths at the fair

Many booths at the fair

Marie’s table was especially busy, giving visitors a hands-on introduction to the web site.

Learning how to use the site

Learning how to use the site

In all 5,000 (!) people attended, and 35 organizations were part of the production of the Olimpiada, the first such gathering of Francophone immigrants since the establishment of Israel! Kol Hakavod to the Qualita organization for producing such an event. And of course, many thanks to the Pharmadom Foundation and the Rashi Foundation for their continuing support of Santé Israël.

Here’s the link to the Facebook post (in French):

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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.

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