Monthly Archives: November 2008

Ramot Open Space Initiative – calling the public to come and join!

In recent posts we updated on our process with the Ramot Community Council to create a  participatory community development process in the neighborhood, using Open Space technology.

The Ramot Community Center is currently investing much effort to publicize the community meetings that will take place on December 10 and 16. Meetings are being held with school boards, youth movements, community organizations, synagogues and all other entities that can be part of the process. We meet regularly with the community worker/organizer of Ramot to help and guide the process. It is our hope that this process will serve as an important landmark in community participation and in affecting the fate of this neighborhood.

Look here for the invitation to the Open Space events. This invitation calls anyone and everyone that lives in Ramot, or feels that they want to impact the future of this neighborhood, to join us for these events.

Rabbi Bob Kaplan in Acre

Rabbi Bob Kaplan, Director of Cause-NY (of the JCRC-NY) and our New York partner in the New-York Jerusalem Experts Exchange, toured Acco today as part of his visit in Israel. Rabbi Kaplan presented to local leaders and mediators the inter-identity crisis intervention model he uses in NYC. With the help of the Gishurim Project, a Community Dialogue and Mediation Center is currently being established in Acco. The meeting was set in order to help the center in its research and development process for designing the optimal implementation of such an institute in Acco. The recent events in Acco highlighted the urgent need for community dialogue and mediation in the city.



About 40 participants from various identities and agencies arrived to the meeting where  Rabbi Kaplan and Dr. Hagai Agmon-Snir (JICC’ director) presented various models from NY and Israel.

Kaplan and Agmon-Snir at the Acco meeting

Kaplan and Agmon-Snir at the Acco meeting

The principal invitees to the meeting were the Imam of Acco, Sheikh Samir Asi and the Chief Rabbi of the city, Rabbi Yossef Yashar. They both had to attend a meeting with Israel’s President, Mr. Shimon Peres, on the same morning, but Rabbi Yashar saw it as important  to open the meeting and discuss some of the issues with Rabbi Kaplan.

Acco Chief Rabbi Yashar and Rabbi Kaplan

Acco Chief Rabbi Yashar and Rabbi Kaplan

Following the main assembly, the Community Dialogue and Mediation Center staff conducted a working session with the visitors from NY and Jerusalem, where next steps were formulated and peer consultation with the JICC and CAUSE-NY was put in place.

Acco Community Dialogue Center staff and the guests

Acco Community Dialogue Center staff with guests

Last Meeting of the Distance-Learning Community Dialogue Course

The 14-weeks long Distance-Learning Community Dialogue Course concluded today. The course consisted of five distance-learning units and five face-to-face meetings. The twenty participants requested an on-going peer group that will accompany their community dialogue initiatives. We hope that the Gishurim program that sponsored the course will be able to provide this service. The course facilitators, Dr. Orna shemer and Dr. Hagai Agmon-Snir, will probably facilitate these peer meetings.

Feedback Session of the Community Dialogue Course

Feedback Session of the Community Dialogue Course

In their feedback, the participants stated that the course has significantly leveraged their ability to plan and initiate responses to community conflicts and opportunities. During the course they presented and discussed the various initiatives they were developing in their community dialogue and mediation centers. This was the first ever community dialogue course of the Gishurim project and we hope it will be repeated in the future.

Lod – Rabbi Bob Kaplan meets the Mayor

Rabbi Bob Kaplan, Director of Cause-NY (of the JCRC-NY) and our New York partner in the New-York Jerusalem Experts Exchange, visited Lod today as part of his visit to Israel. The purpose of the visit was to present the Inter-Identity Crisis Intervention model Bob uses in NYC. In a special meeting of the Lod Multicultural Forum, together with Lod’s Mayor, the NYC model was introduced and compared to the model currently implemented in Lod, with the support of the JICC.

Rabbi Kaplan at the Lod Mayor's Office

Rabbi Kaplan at the Lod Municipality

Orit Yulzari, Director of the Lod Community Dialogue and Mediation Center, was an intern at Cause-NY a few years ago. Upon her return to Israel she began receiving on-going consultation from the JICC. As aprt of her work she initiated the Lod Multicultural Forum which focuses on ways to make Lod a more culturally competent city and importantly it also serves as the city’s inter-identity crisis intervention team. A few weeks ago when there was an arson of a synagogue in Lod the forum was used for this purpose.

During the presentation, the Mayor and all the participants emphasized the importance of the Crisis Intervention Team. Insights and tips from similar work in NYC were discussed.

Update, Nov 25:     just a few days after this visit, Orit Yulzari received a call about an incident at an Arab school. A 10-years old kid threw a stone at a police car and the police officer slapped him and called him “Hammas member”. Orit and the Mayor immediately got to the place and ensured that the incident was appropriately dealt with. The fast intervention assured that no disinformation and incitement took place. Later on that day other members of the Forum met with all the relevant sides.

First Training to Municipality Absorption Neighborhood Workers

The Jerusalem Municipal Absorption Authority employs about ten Absorption Neighborhood Workers in the city. Their role is to assist new immigrants (Olim) who live in their neighborhoods with all the daily matters that those are typically challenged with. While these workers are usually new immigrants themselves, they cannot, of course, know and understand the cross-cultural issues relating to all immigrant communities that live in their neighborhoods

The municipal Absorption Authority, which is responsible for the recruitment, training and mentoring of the Absorption Workers, approached the JICC to conduct a training on cultural competency to this staff. The goals of the training are to leverage their work by making them more aware to cultural issues and to encourage them to become the voice for cultural competence in their neighborhoods. Our hope is that in time they will encourage local Community Councils and centers, local government agencies and branches, health clinics etc. to become cultural competent. Practically, this means that the scope of their influence will expand to include all identities living in their service area and not only new immigrants.

Today, November 19, we conducted the first training in the series that provided the Absorbtion Workers with an introduction to the field of cultural competence, including examples from health and many other applications relevant to their daily work. At the end of the training participants expressed their satisfaction with the level and scope of the training and that they look forward to future sessions. The rest of the training will cover topics such as cross-cultural communication, tools for cultural competence, case studies and simulations, and stages for making an organization cultural competent.

Clalit HMO Update on Adapting Clinics to Ethiopian Patients

Following a steering committee meeting on adapting Clalit’s clinics to Ethiopian patients, a meeting was held between the head of the Clalit committee and the JICC to define the main components of the cultural competence in health program in the city, as well as first steps. Clalit is the main HMO serving Jerusalem’s residents. One of the first steps decided upon was to ensure that the Amharic teleinterpretation service of “Tene Briut” would be expanded to all Clalit’s clinics in Jerusalem. The JICC introduced this service in Jerusalem, and the Clalit’s Talpiot clinic, serving around 500 Ethiopian patients, was the first to adopt it. Today, we were informed that permission was granted by Clalit to incorporate the service in the other three relevant clinics in Jerusalemite as well as in four suburban clinics that serve the Ethiopian community. The teleinterpretation service provides a major improvement in health care for this community, which suffers greatly from language and cultural barriers.

Municipal Elections in Jerusalem!!!

Yesterday, Jerusalem’s secular mayoral candidate, Mr. Nir Barkat, won the municipal election with 52% of the vote. His ultra-orthodox opponent, Rabbi Meir Porush, was close behind with 43%. The Jerusalem Inter-Cultural Center cannot, of course, support any of the candidates, as one of our most important functions is the enabling of fair dialogue and negotiations between the many identities in the city. The members of the JICC board,  representing different groups in the city – Palestinians and Jews, ultra-orthodox and members of other religious denominations – supported various candidates.

Nevertheless, most of the 31 members of the newly elected City Council are new to their role, and they too represent many different identity groups and attitudes. It is our role to help them create effective and profound dialogue amongst themselves, as well as between them and the Jerusalem residents.

The JICC aspires to promote Jerusalem as a Culturally Competent City – and we hope to convince the new Council to adopt this approach. We will try to enhance the impact of the Jerusalem Employment Coalition on the decisionmaking process in the municipality. The municipality is a member of the coalition, which was founded and is facilitated by the JICC. In addition, the JICC has already started a dialogue process between main ultra-orthodox and non-ultra orthodox groups touching upon the issue of living together in Jerusalem. We would like the municipality to be a partner to the thinking process and to the implementation of the outcomes.

In recent years, we attempted to improve the dialogue between the municipality and the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, most of whom feel alienated from the municipality and therefore ban the elections. We hope that this dialogue will now intensify and result in better infrastructure and services in East Jerusalem.

To conclude, we see the elections’ results as an opportunity for positive change in the city, hopefully through the cooperation of the many rival groups at the City Council. To respond to these new challenges and opportunities the JICC will shortly initiate meetings with City Council members.

Ramot Open Space Initiative – Steering Committee, November 9, 2008

In 2008, the Ramot Community Council asked the JICC’s assistance in creating a  participatory community development process in the neighborhood. The selected model was Open Space Technology, a powerful methodology that encourages large groups of participants, in this case residents, leaders, activists and professionals, to engage in the process with both their passion and responsibility for action. To prepare for the Open Space event in December 2008 we formed a steering committee that includes all relevant stakeholders. The committee then discussed main topics for the event and ways to engage the community in large in the process.

Today, we held the last meeting of the steering committee, with seven members of the Ramot Community Council Board. We were impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of the committee members, and by their commitment to recruit as many residents as possible for the Open Space event. The event will take place during two evenings on December 10 and 16. Together with the neighborhood community worker and other staff of the community council the residents will help prepare and promote the event.

During the meeting it was also well understood that the municipal elections on November 11 will affect the dynamics in the neighborhood in general and of the event in particular. The local Haredi/non-Haredi rifts and the demographic changes that occurred in the neighborhood are important factors in the development of civil society in the Ramot community.

The Folklore Tale as a Facilitation Tool – Opening of a Training

The second cycle of “The Folklore Tale as a Facilitation Tool, for Awareness, Empowerment and Dialogue” has started today in the JICC. Shay Schwartz, the course facilitator, is an experienced group facilitator and storyteller and in the past an actor, director and script writer. In recent years Schwartz mainly focuses on developing models for using stories in different contexts, in particular in dialogue, therapy, personal and cultural identity search, and cultural empowerment. The twenty-sessions-long course will train group facilitators to utilize stories as a facilitation tool, especially in conflictual settings.

First meeting of the course

First meeting of the course

This is the second time for the course to be offered to relevant Palestinian and Jewish professionals in Jerusalem. Feedback from the first cycle was excellent and we hope that this year’s course would also enable participants to utilize this unique methodology in their work.

Ultra-orthodox and other Jews in Jerusalem – November 6, 2008

Towards the Municipal elections in Jerusalem, the rift between Ultra-Orthodox Jews and other Jewish denominations is escalating. The main two candidates to the Mayor office represent the main two groups, and although the results will not be known until the elections on November 11, it is anticipated that whichever side wins will make the “other group” feel excluded in the city.

Earlier this week, the JICC invited a group of leaders to begin a high-level process of discussions and negotiations on ways to live together in the city. Today, a public conference on Jerusalem as a Multicultural City was held at the Ethics Center of Mishkenot Sha’ananim (see the program in Hebrew).

The conference was organized and facilitated by Avner Haramati, the JICC board chairperson, and by Prof. Shlomo Hasson. In addition to Haramati three other JICC board members spoke at the conference: Father Pier Battista Pizzaballa, OFM, Custos of the Holy Land; Sharon Rosen, the Israeli director of Search for Common Ground; and Dudi Zilbershlag, Director of Meir Panim. This demonstrates the diversity of the board and its serious attitude towards multiculturalism.

Importantly, the candidates for the Mayor office attended the conference and presented their approach to diversity in the city. Dr. Hagai Agmon-Snir, the JICC director, presented an example of a challenging dialogue process that took place between the gay and the Ultra Orthodox communities in Jerusalem around the Pride Parades conflict. In this case, the facilitation by the JICC resulted in understanding between the two sides. The challenge for the future will be to create similar processes in additional neighborhoods as well as citywide.

The JICC took the opportunity to announce the strategic process that was started this week. Next steps will be taken after the elections. Without doubt these issues are crucial for the future of Jerusalem.