On October 27, 2008, the Gishurim Program, which is a program to help Community Mediation Centers in Israel, had its annual conference. 300 participants from all around the country attended the conference, definitely the largest ever meeting of the community mediation centers in Israel.
The conference was implemented through the Open Space Technology and was facilitated by Daphna Barashi-Aizen, an organizational psychologist, and Tal Kligman, from the JICC. The conference focused on how community mediation centers can become more culturally competent in serving their diverse target audiences, and also in responding to the diversity amongst their staff and volunteers. Dr. Hagai Agmon-Snir, the JICC director, gave the keynote presentation about the case study of cultural competence in the health system also in reference to the mediation centers. Following this presentation the participants discussed insights and initiatives in smaller groups. The summaries of the discussions were presented and follow-up initiatives were formalized for the coming year.
A main discussion topic was the Acre riots and “the day after” – in all multicultural cities and communities in Israel. A few dozens activists and mediators came from Acre and helped the others to understand the background, the events and the probable consequences in Acre. Many other discussions touched upon the incorporation of new immigrants and different religious denominations into mediation centers. The discussions provided important insights for the activists in Acre as well as for those active in other places. The context of cultural competence offered an important framework for these discussions.
All discussions and follow-ups will be documented on the Gishurim website and through the help of the Gishurim program, some of the initiatives will be implemented. The Gishurim program is being operated by Mosaica and the Jerusalem Intercultural Center.