Monthly Archives: September 2015

What does Yom Kippur / Eid al-Adha mean to you? Bridging conflict with a movie

For the second year in a row – the Jewish Yom Kippur and the Muslim Eid al-Adha fell almost on the same day. This situation had the potential of sparking even more violence, during a time tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, Jews and Arabs, especially in Jerusalem but also in mixed cities throughout Israel, were high.

Both are among the most important holidays of their respective religions, but are celebrated quite differently. Yom Kippur is characterized by fasting and introspection, and, uniquely in Israel, refraining from driving (See here things that even the most secular Israeli Jews did on Yom Kippur when the roads were clear.) Conversely, Eid al-Adha, which commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, is celebrated with family get togethers, often slaughtering a goat or a sheep to mark the day. In an effort to diffuse tensions, the Gishurim program (which is being operated by Mosaica and us) and a range of other partners, produced a YouTube video, which was viewed throughout the country. It was a fully joint Jewish-Muslim production, and served as an important ray of hope during these tense times. Some 250,000 people were exposed to the film, and it was viewed by more than 150,000 people on Facebook, from all around the country. Happy (and hopeful) viewing!

Building Community Solidarity through Themed Playgrounds

How would you like your local public playground? Aimed at big or little kids?  With a pirate theme or dinosaurs or space travel?

Can you really have a playground made to order? Well, yes. During the spring and summer months we were involved in community-building processes that aimed to do just that – build community by building a playground. We were approached by the Jerusalem Municipality to lead processes in Gilo, Ir Ganim, Givat Hamivtar and Shuafat. With funding from the Bloomberg Philanthropies, established by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, we set to work.

Jerusalem's diversity, building playgrounds

Jerusalem’s diversity, building playgrounds

The processes were led by the staff of the different community councils, alongside Municipality officials. Before meeting with the residents, these process leaders met to set joint project goals and ensure that everyone was on the same page. (Indeed, ‘informed decision-making’ is a key component of the principles of participatory democracy.) Different concepts were reviewed – what exactly are themed playgrounds, the rough budgets set aside for building the playgrounds, the timeline, safety standards, types of potential equipment, examples of themed playgrounds from around the world for inspiration, and more. We then set out to mentor the neighborhoods separately, as all residents in each community were invited to sessions that included brainstorming for different themes, coming to agreement on what residents wanted in a playground, and more. After both residents and community and planning professionals put their ideas on paper (illustrated in the pictures), suggestions were passed along to the landscape architects contracted to design the playgrounds.  In Gilo residents chose to establish a “Cub Park” (for example, trying to mimic characteristic movements of different animals in the park, such as, but not necessarily including, crawling like a snake, climbing like a monkey, jumping like a kangaroo, etc.). Residents in Givat Hamivtar chose “Man and his World;” in Ir Ganim, “Touching the Sky;” and in Shuafat, “Space Park.” The architects are now working on specific designs and are scheduled to present these designs to the neighborhoods very soon.

We came to this project as a result of our in-depth work with residents of Kiryat Hayovel and Kiryat Menachem / Ir Ganim in the Asbestonim Wadi, which runs between Kiryat Hayovel and Kiryat Menachem / Ir Ganim. We can’t wait to see how these new playgrounds turn out!

Plans on paper

Plans on paper

Launch of Groundbreaking Healthcare Web Site for the French-Speaking Community

À votre santé! Here’s to your health, in French.

We’re happy to announce the launching of, a groundbreaking web site that makes Israel’s health care system accessible to French speakers. The first of its kind in Israel, the site offers comprehensive explanations about Israel’s health care system, which is vastly different from that of France, as well as its four main health funds.

Sante homepage

Sante homepage

The Israeli and French health systems are quite different and immigrants (olim) or future Olim are not always prepared. Until Sante Israel, much of the information provided by the authorities and health insurance companies were in Hebrew, English or Russian, and were scattered in various sources, making them inaccessible to large segments of the populations. Sante Israel has grouped them in a sensible manner, translated if necessary and presented them on one site.

The site includes information on medical institutions, medications available, services for different age groups (children, elderly …) and for different situations (pregnancy, chronic illness), payments and co-payments, what is covered and what is not in the various plans, etc. There are also many explanations on the differences between health care in Israel and that in France, such as emergency visits to the doctor, a glossary and explanations on important terms, guides to use existing information tools and links to useful sites. The site also provides a wealth of information for French-speaking health care professionals seeking to make Aliya to Israel, on equivalent degrees,  equivalency exams, licensing, etc.

Sante Waze app

Navigate to nearest hospital through Sante

The site is also fully designed to be mobile-friendly. It is available on both Android and iOS smartphone systems, and has the ability to dial telephone numbers automatically by clicking on them. It also links directly to the Waze navigation app, which can direct the user to the closest hospital or medical center. It will also be linked to a Facebook page, an online chat, forums and an e-mail address, which will enable users to ask questions, receive advice, share experiences, and publish information, creating an active community with the site at the center.

We’d like to thank Pharmadom Foundation for their ongoing support of the project. The Pharmadom Foundation works under the auspices of the Foundation of French Judaism (FSJU) and the Rashi Foundation.