Blog Category: ‘Promoting Tolerance in Jerusalem’

The Writing is (not) on the Wall

April 14th, 2017

It’s not nice to wake up during the Passover holiday to ugly graffiti:

Hate graffiti on the Railway Park in southern Jerusalem

Hate graffiti on the Railway Park in southern Jerusalem

Especially if it’s racist graffiti that says, ““Arabs, go home,” and “We want revenge.” It also had “Kahane was right,” Rabbi Meir Kahane, the founder of the outlawed Kach movement that called to expel Arabs from Israel and the Palestinian territories, who was assassinated in Manhattan in 2012.

Fortunately, a group of activists, part of our network of activists for tolerance that include residents, city council members and the Municipality, were quick to act. They called the Municipal hotline, and within a few hours the graffiti was cleaned.

Working hard to blot out racism

Working hard to blot out racism

But they didn’t stop there. They replaced the graffiti with other signs, full of love and acceptance.

We love our neighbors, in Hebrew

We love our neighbors, in Hebrew

Here’s an independent post of what happened. The incident was even reported in both the English and Hebrew YNET web sites, which are associated with the most widely read national daily newspaper, Yediot Acharonot.

Hebrew article in Yediot Acharonot

Hebrew article in Yediot Acharonot national newspaper

We were doubly interested in this process, since we’ve been helping residents and activists along the Railway Park initiate community-building activities along the park almost since its opening. Coupled with this cooperative work to promote tolerance, we’re pretty proud of this network of activists, which acted quickly, independently, and effectively, with our support and encouragement.

Sign initiators and helpers - best way to spend a school holiday

Sign initiators and helpers – best way to spend a school holiday

Even Yael Freidson, the Ynet reporter who first reported the racist graffiti, tweeted, when she saw the final result, with a hashtag that says “these are things that make me happy”. Indeed, the tolerance activists of Jerusalem managed to make lemonade out of lemons. They demonstrated that Jerusalem has an efficient and sustainable network of tolerance!

Of course, the incident was posted on our Jerusalem Tolerance Facebook page:

Many thanks to the UJA-Federation of New York for its support of our efforts both with residents along the Railway Park and to promote tolerance throughout Jerusalem. Many thanks also go to the Jerusalem Foundation for their support of our work.

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Meeting in the Square for Interreligious Discussions

April 7th, 2017

Last Thursday was a special day in the world of inter-religious activities and working toward tolerance in Jerusalem.

It started off with a great group of Jews, Christians and Muslims, Praying Together in Jerusalem, who get together monthly for interfaith prayer. This month, after their inspiring prayer, they joined other groups that we work with, Speaking in the Square and Meeting Place of the Yerushalmim Movement, for an an unforgettable evening of dialogue and tolerance in Zion Square. Later, ‘Living Together,’ a group of religious leaders from around Israel, joined in on the discussions.

Many faiths speaking in the square

Many faiths speaking in the square

Peta Jones Pellach was one of the organizers of the Praying Together in Jerusalem event. Afterwards, she wrote this in a blog post for the Times of Israel:

“After introductions, I posed the questions, “Can we be friends with people of other faiths? Isn’t his dangerous? Isn’t it also a little ingenuous – after all, don’t we always hold back a little in interfaith friendships?”

My Muslim friend was incensed! Of course you can have deep friendships with people from other faiths! She was passionate. The interchange led one of the young Jewish participants to exclaim that she was overcome with emotion. This was her first genuine interfaith experience. Indeed, none of the participants in the circle was prepared to acknowledge that interreligious friendships can be challenging. Whether or not it is always true, this group felt that difference in religion was not a barrier to a positive relationship.

The conversation flowed. Many of the Jewish participants took the opportunity to ask Christians about their faith and the Christians were delighted to be able to explain their beliefs.

….This is unity through diversity.”

Here’s the Facebook post of the event:

Here’s the link to the full post:

Many thanks to the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jerusalem Foundation for their support in helping us to promote tolerance throughout the city.

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Gearing Up for Jerusalemite Day

April 1st, 2017

Jerusalem Day. Every day in Jerusalem is a meeting point between East and West, of Walls and Gold. Jerusalem – surrounded by hilltops, the subject of wonder. Jerusalem – with many, many different peoples.

Between the clichés and the syndrome (click here to read about Jerusalem Syndrome), everyday Jerusalem – and the Jerusalem of our dreams  – awaits.


Gearing up for Jerusalemite Day

Gearing up for Jerusalemite Day

We believe that Jerusalem Day is an ideal day to celebrate all that is special, unique and diverse about Jerusalem. Last year, we began this celebration, with A Different Day in Jerusalem, list of 50 events celebrating the diversity of Jerusalem. This year, we seek to build on that tradition, with “Jerusalemite Day – a Celebration of Diversity in Jerusalem”.

Principles of Open Space Technology

Principles of Open Space Technology

Last Thursday, March 16, we held, at Beit Yehudit – Ginot Ha’Ir Community Center, the first meeting for initiatives that seek to organize something on Jerusalemite Day. We had some 25 activists, all seeking to be part of this special production.

Small groups to advance individual initiatives

Small groups to advance individual initiatives

Some projects looking to be part of the action include: using music to build bridges, using religious texts as the basis for inter-religious encounters, a diversity march / happening, encounter between different ethnic groups, and much more.

The other side of the room

Thinking big

In addition to this meeting, we’ve put out a general call for initiatives to be carried out. Thus far we’ve got about 40, and expect dozens more by Jerusalemite Day, May 24.

Many thanks to the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jerusalem Foundation for their ongoing support of our efforts to promote tolerance in Jerusalem.

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Window to Mount Zion – Cleaning the Dejani Cemetery

March 26th, 2017

Adjacent to the David’s Tomb complex is the Dajani cemetery. It is an historic Muslim cemetery where the Dajani family, a well-known, well-established Jerusalem family, buried its family members. This includes a former Mayor of Jerusalem and other VIPs.

Before the Clean-up March 2017

Before the Clean-up March 2017

For a long time this cemetery stood locked and neglected, and was an eyesore to anyone (some 2 million tourists (!) per year) who visited the area of David’s Tomb.

Organizing the volunteer workers

Organizing the volunteer workers

Until Window to Mount Zion decided to to something. Window to Mount Zion organized a unique clean-up mission, together with our volunteers, the Jerusalem Municipality, the Israel Police, and the Dajani family. Thanks to our volunteers, all the different bodies came together for the project.

Hard at work

Hard at work

The clean-up took place on Monday, March 20. They weeded, cleaned up, and cleared away tree trunks and other unnecessary vegetation and garbage that had sprouted and multiplied over the years.

Eran, one of the volunteers, had a special experience. Together with a descendant of the Dajani family, he cleaned up the area around the grave of Abd el-Kadr Tahbub, who was the supreme judge of Jerusalem. Together, they also read the special poem that was written on his gravestone.

Cleaning up a special grave

Cleaning up a special grave

Work in the cemetery isn’t finished. In the future, we also seek to map the cemetery and fix some of the gravestones that have been damaged over the years.

Here’s the Facebook post (in Hebrew) about the work:

Many thanks to all the partners who helped take part in this special cleanup – the Jerusalem Municipality, Israel Police, the Dajani family, of course the volunteers. Here’s to additional fruitful, intercultural and inter-religious partnerships in the future.

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for their continuing support of our efforts to promote tolerance in Jerusalem.

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The Tolerance Train Comes Round Again

March 24th, 2017

We described here the first Tolerance Train Stop, which took place on January 19, by the Ruach Nachon pre-army preparatory program, the Citipass company that operates the light rail, and with our mentoring.

Next stop - Tolerance Station!

Next stop – Tolerance Station!

On Sunday, March 19, we had another one, this time with Boyer High School. Students also underwent a special workshop on tolerance before heading out onto the street.

This is part of what they hope is to become a monthly tradition. Ruach Nachon also seeks to open other Tolerance Train Stops along the light rail line.

Many thanks to the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jerusalem Foundation for their continuing support of our efforts to promote tolerance in Jerusalem.

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0202 – It’s Been Two Years?!?!?

March 10th, 2017

Almost unbelievable, but true. 0202 – Points of View from Jerusalem, which we’ve been mentoring since the start as part of our effort to increase tolerance in Jerusalem, just celebrated its second birthday. And as a birthday present to itself, it made this great short movie:

In two short years, 0202 has grown from one page to three, now featuring Arabic news items translated into both Hebrew and English, as well as a special Ultra-Orthodox-to-general Jewish population page. These pages have together garnered 100,000 followers and reach an audience of 120,000 people per week in Israel and around the world.

0202 site-header – different glasses…..

0202 has impacted Jerusalem offline as well: In addition to having become a credible source of information for Jerusalem municipality members, Israeli journalists, and human rights organizations, we have actually been the cause for change in municipal actions in East Jerusalem.

We’d like to thank the Leichtag Foundation for its support of 0202, as well as the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jerusalem Foundation for their support of all our efforts to promote tolerance in Jerusalem.

And for our Arabic/Hebrew listeners, here is the video with subtitles in these languages:


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Speaking in the Square, Speaking Differently

February 28th, 2017

One of the best parts of our activities to promote tolerance in Jerusalem is seeing more and more collaborations to reach a common goal…

What a better way to round out a week of learning new communications skills to resolve conflict, than to practice them in Zion Square?

Speaking in the Square, Yerushalmim, 9Adar

Speaking in the Square, Yerushalmim, 9Adar

This past Thursday, February 23, Speaking in the Square teamed with the Yerushalmim Movement and the the Jewish Week of Constructive Conflict, which is operated by the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies together with Mosaica: The Center for Conflict Resolution by Agreement.

The event included discussion circles, which were moderated by a group of Haredim who lead cultural activities. The circle included some 60 secular, Haredi and everyone in between, discussing the hot topics of the day, such as Shabbat in Jerusalem, and more.

Debating in the Square

Debating in the Square

Open debates,

One of several topics

One of several topics

Spoken word, and Jerusalem’s fantastic diverse residents, who were happy to participate. All together, hundreds of people participated in the evening.

Many thanks to the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jerusalem Foundation for their continued support in helping us advance tolerance in Jerusalem!

Here’s Speaking in the Square’s Facebook post (in Hebrew), describing the event:

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Read All About Our Work on the Tolerance Train!

February 18th, 2017

We told you here about the unique and exciting tolerance train event that took place on January 19. Well, we were also covered in the press! Here’s the clip to the article, which was published in the local newspaper, Yediot Yerushalayim on Friday, February 10.

Tolerance Train Article

Tolerance Train Article

The article read:

Students of the ‘Ruach Nachon’ pre-army program…recently started the ‘Tolerance Station:’ a special [train] station that will host youth movements and school groups and give them a workshop in tolerance. The first Tolerance Station opened in cooperation with the Dror (religious) and Hachmey Lev (Haredi yeshiva high school) secondary schools, and with representatives from Ma’ale Adumim’s Youth Council. During the event musical instruments were distributed, as well flyers that read, ‘Let’s open the heart of Jerusalem.’ Additional materials in both Hebrew and Arabic were distributed, and passages from Psalms (in Hebrew) and the Koran (in Arabic) were hung up around the Station.

Many thanks to the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jerusalem Foundation, who support our efforts to promote tolerance in Jerusalem.

Here’s the post from Facebook:

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Window to Mount Zion – Praying for Church Unity

February 4th, 2017

Jerusalem has certainly seen its share of conflict – between Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs, Ultra-Orthodox Jews and Secular Jews, and even conflicts between different Christian denominations. And sometimes, Jerusalem also leads efforts to resolve those conflicts, on many levels. Thus is the rationale behind the Prayer for Church Unity that took place on January 26, 2017 on Mount Zion.

Leading the prayer for church unity

Leading the prayer for church unity

In 1964, Pope Paul VI made his first papal visit to the Middle East since the Middle Ages. In January 1964 he conducted an historic meeting with the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, the first such meeting in 900 years! Since then, Christians around the world hold joint prayer services during the last week of January. In Jerusalem, this includes a special prayer, recited in the Cenacle (Room of the Last Supper), which is formally a neutral place, historically and religiously significant, and a sacred site to almost all the Christian communities in the city.

Some 200 worshipers were present

Some 200 worshipers were present

We first reported about this prayer last year. (You can read here about our experience.) This year, for the second year running the prayer for church unity again ran smoothly, thanks to the volunteers of Window to Mount Zion and their close cooperation with the David Precinct of the Israel Police. Together, clad in their bright yellow vests, Window to Mount Zion volunteers were there to advance tolerance and ensure that all 200 worshipers, members of all different denominations, were able to peacefully take part in the prayer.

Window to Mount Zion volunteers

Window to Mount Zion volunteers

Worshipers prayed in one of the holiest places in Jerusalem, and we were proud to be part of this effort to build bridges between different groups. Congratulations to Window to Mount Zion volunteers on another job well done!

Here’s the Facebook post (in Hebrew) from the Window to Mount Zion Facebook page:

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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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