Monthly Archives: July 2014

Working Together to Improve our Environment in Gilo

With assistance from the UJA – Federation of New York, we’ve been working in the Gilo neighborhood for the past five years, helping the Gilo Community Council. Utilizing principles of deliberative democracy, we’ve been helping residents to take initiative and responsibility for their communities. Most of our efforts have until now focused on parking and education issues. Other initiatives have focused on public – private spaces (PPS’s), but on a small scale.

all pitching in

Since January we’ve been helping local activists who reside in the area of Tirosh St., a long street that includes a number of PPS’s, in planning on which issues to deal with, what to do and how to go about doing it. After several meetings, they held a major, community-wide clean-up and renovation event on June 27, 2014, with help from the Jerusalem Municipality. You can see all this documented in a short video.


picture collage

everyone helping

In all more than 160 took part – 100 children from the neighboring schools, and 60 residents. The residents were in charge from beginning to end – they were in touch with the Municipality, they organized the volunteers, they were in charge of the implementation. The Municipality worked hand in hand with the residents, preparing the area beforehand, and providing tools and work materials. Moving forward, there’ll be continued work on that PPS, most likely in smaller groups to make upkeep easier to maintain.

Kudos to all involved! We can’t wait to see more initiatives coming out of that area.

The JICC Calming the Waters in this Time of Crisis

garbage-cans-full1It’s been a difficult few weeks here in Jerusalem and in Israel in general. First the kidnapping and murder of 3 Jewish high school boys who had been studying in a yeshiva in the West Bank, then the kidnapping and murder of an Arab boy in Jerusalem, which sparked demonstrations in Jerusalem and even throughout Israel. And then missiles and air strikes and increased fighting.

Jerusalem Dome of the Rock

Jerusalem Dome of the Rock

We have been working to ease tension and conflict, and to promote civil engagement in Jerusalem’s future, since we were established in 1999. Thus, when tensions heightened and reached breaking points, we were there, trying to help residents re-gain order, first in their everyday lives, and then on a community and city-wide level.

Over the past few weeks we’ve played a key role in Jerusalem. We helped to spread a message of calm and a return to routine, through our broad network of contacts throughout the city.  In consultations with key figures we advised using a range of methods that successfully brought quiet to the streets relatively quickly. These consultations also returned routine services – garbage collection and sanitation, for example – back to the residents, reinforcing the feeling that everyone wished to get back to normal as quickly as possible.


It seems that these actions – and the influence of their messages – proved true in the field. Shuafat, the neighborhood where Muhammad Abu Khdeir (the Arab boy who was kidnapped and murdered) was from, became completely quiet during the day and incidents at night decreased quickly as well. Outbursts of violence and vandalism in different Arab neighborhoods were handled similarly, with similar calming results.

As soon as the military activity began in Gaza (July 6) and the missile attacks throughout Israel, including Jerusalem, we moved into a different mode of operation. We summoned the independent Emergency Readiness Networks that we helped to establish in East Jerusalem, which are a central component of the readiness of East Jerusalem in any emergency situation (from the snow storms in December 2013, to potential rocket fire like there is today) , and they continue to be on alert today. We are also helping many community councils in west Jerusalem that needed help in responding to the current crisis. For example, in the Greater Baka’a Community Council we helped to draft information and special messages of calm from the Community Council, which offered volunteer psycho-social professionals to help neighborhood residents. We advised other community councils regarding their responses to the situation as well.

In addition, because of our deep and extensive work in cultural competency in the health care system, we prepared special guidelines for health care workers for when social and political tensions are high, as they are now. In more normal times, hospitals and health care systems are often rare examples of coexistence and cooperation – between Jews and Arabs, religious, secular, ultra-orthodox (Haredi) Jews, etc. However, in times like now, when tension is palpable throughout the country, the situation inside hospitals and other health care institutions is affected as well. Indeed, in the past, there have been numerous instances of verbal and physical violence within hospitals, between patient and caregiver, between patients, and in rare cases, between caregivers. The guidelines help to delineate a professional response to prevent these situations and to deal with them quickly and effectively when they occur.

While today most of the attention is not on Jerusalem, we continue to work hard to maintain an everyday routine – and quiet. Under the circumstances it has become a state of “Emergency – Routine”. Much of the work continues to rely on the MiniActive and Emergency Readiness networks. The Emergency Readiness Networks continue to be on alert, ready to spring into action if necessary. The MiniActive groups continue, especially now, to contact service providers and report problems and demand repairs and improvements, which are able to take place because of the relative calm in the city. A lot of the work is being in contact with as much of the network as possible; the situation is not easy for any Jerusalem resident. Both Jews and Arabs are feeling the polarization and tension in the air.

Let’s hope for better times to come, soon.

Opening at the JICC in the Fall – Arabic Language and Culture Courses

The JICC has been offering Arabic language for communication almost since its establishment, thanks to the ongoing support of the Jerusalem Foundation. In 2013-2014 there were over 100 students from the entire spectrum of the population – young people and seniors, professionals and students – all seeking to be able to use Arabic to communicate with those they share the city with.

ArabicSuha 596X298

We’re just opened registration for the 2014 – 2015 cohort, and this year we’ve got some extra surprises in store. In addition to the weekly meetings (There’ll be 8 groups in 5 levels, both afternoon and morning courses.), we will be offering a range of cultural activities. We believe that this will help to enhance students’ understanding of Arab culture.

ArabicAnwar 596X298

We will add 3 visits to unique cultural centers, such as a theater and a book store that also holds cultural events. We will also hold cultural encounters with various Arab cultural figures, such as a poet, artists, musician, actors, etc. We have openings for 120 students, just like last year. But, just like last year, we expect enrollment to fill up quickly. So hurry up and register!

Putting Cultural Competency into High Gear

We’ve been working to improve cultural competency in the health care system for quite awhile (See here for more information). We’ve even gotten some nice press articles over the years. Now, together with our partners in academia, we’re putting cultural competency into high gear, and getting the word out on all levels.

Most recently, we’ve been partners in the publication of a unique document in Hebrew. It was written in cooperation with the Ruppin Academic Center’s Institute for Immigration and Social Integration and the JDC-Israel, on using training workshops for introducing principles of Cultural Competency into local municipalities and authorities, with an emphasis on the welfare departments. Click here for the complete document.

Cultural Competency in Local Authorities

Cultural Competency in Local Authorities

A second document was an article in the Ministry of Health’s periodical by our colleagues from the Ruppin Academic Center and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, who wrote a comparative survey of cultural competency in the health care systems of England, Australia, the USA and Israel. Click here for the complete document. We are mentioning this article since the pages about Israel show how central is the role of the JICC in the field of Cultural Competence in Israel.

Cultural Competency comparison

Cultural Competency comparison

These publications join other recent accomplishments, including:

  • Publication of the Manual for Assimilating Cultural Competency principles in Health Care Institutions in Israel, which was published in July 2013. Click here for the document in Hebrew.
  • Production of four training videos, together with Bar Ilan University, the first such training videos in Israel;
  • Development of peer networks for cultural competency coordinators from throughout Israel, including special networks for mental health institutions;
  • Publication of information sheets in Hebrew on a number of Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Druze holidays, available here;
  • Offering of free consultation services for solving issues concerning Haredi clients / patients, in cooperation with Rabbi Zvi Porat of ALYN Rehabilitation Hospital.
  • Delving into cultural competency issues in mental health, which require a completely unique approach.
  • Publication of guidelines on a number of relevant topics, from writing on the Sabbath for religious Jews to dealing with heightened emotions during times of social and political tensions.

All the while, continuing our training and supervision of staffs from the gamut of health care organizations. We’ve come so far, yet there’s so much work to do.