Effective Activism

Close the Garbage Can! Campaign Gets Underway

How do you go about getting people to close the lids on the garbage cans and put them back in their place after emptying? Have breakfast, of course. So on January 4, some 40 sanitation workers, from truck drivers to shift managers to department directors, and Haredi activists from Bayit veGan, had breakfast together to discuss how to make the streets of their neighborhood, cleaner.

It was far from obvious that this meeting took place. There are many differences between these two groups – religious, ethnicity, nationality, gender, occupation, standard of living. Despite these differences, everyone present wanted to see – and work toward – a cleaner Bayit veGan.

This initiative is part of our Little Prince project, which seeks to advance a range of initiative to help make Jerusalem’s streets cleaner. The garbage can initiative was first presented at our Open Space Technology meeting that we held in May 2017, led by the Neighborhood Cleanliness Committee of the Haredi neighborhood of Bayit veGan.

Breakfast with the Neighborhood Cleanliness Committee

Breakfast with the Neighborhood Cleanliness Committee

This breakfast was the culmination of a long process of discussing the extent of the problem, the root of the problem, and possible solutions to the problem. We helped the women of the committee reach the conclusion that, in order to improve the situation, it was critical to develop a relationship with all involved, and not just be seen as complainers. Thus, the breakfast idea was born.

The idea was to invite all the local sanitation workers together with their managers to learn about the garbage collection from their standpoint. The local community center, alongside the community social worker and the community center director, invited all to breakfast at the community center.

So many attended there was barely enough food

So many attended there was barely enough food

The breakfast itself was a huge success. We were prepared for 5 workers, and 25 – 30 showed up – including all the regular workers, some substitutes, the managers, and the regional manager for Bayit veGan. Everyone cleared the air in an unusually good-natured meeting – residents complained about cans having their lids opened, how the trucks block the streets, how the cans are put back in different places. The workers complained that cars parked on the sidewalks and blocked access to the cans and other issues. Each ‘side’ brainstormed about ways they can help each other make the streets of Bayit veGan cleaners again. All came away with a fantastic feeling that despite the great differences in identity – ranging from Muslim Palestinian and Ethiopian Israeli to Haredi – bridges were built that laid the groundwork for future cooperation. And ultimately, cleaner streets.

Keeping our streets clean means so many things to so many people. From construction waste to littered parks to shutting the lids on the garbage cans in the streets, and having workers put them back in their place after they’d been emptied. Brainstorming and planning together about how to advance these issues in our individual communities – that is the beauty of the Little Prince. It is an example of wonderful, uniquely contemporary Jerusalemite, cooperation. We all live in Jerusalem and want to see it cleaner – for all of us.

Here’s the post from Facebook that was published on the Jerusalem Tolerance Facebook page:

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Summing Up Tolerance Week

We’ve already described and listed here the 30 events that took place during Tolerance Week (November 10 – 18).  Here’s how our Michal Shilor, Coordinator for the Grassroots Campaign for Tolerance, described it:

In the last week, we broke records of emotion:

Jerusalem wore its holiday clothes

She removed her masks

And was just herself:

Authentic Jerusalem, made up of her communities,

Jerusalem of Jerusalemites, of all who love her.

Tour of the Old City of Jerusalem during Tolerance Week

Tour of the Old City of Jerusalem during Tolerance Week

During the last week Jerusalem celebrated Tolerance Week – the holiday that is davka the most appropriate for our city. Davka the city of political and religious and national and international slogans, davka for the city – for those who don’t know her – that is seen as the symbol of all that is opposite of tolerance.

What do others think of people like me?

What do others think of people like me?

During the last week, Jerusalem re-centered itself. She peeled away all the layers of slogans of all who think they know her, and said:

“I am of my residents.

I am of my people.

I am of my communities who choose to live with me,

to love me and to walk in my streets.

And I bring them together. And I make them feel good. And we live together.”

Learning Talmud and Hadith together

Learning Talmud and Hadith together

Jerusalem Tolerance Week began last year, and this year nearly doubled itself, with 30 events – initiated in schools, by activists, and organizations that chose to celebrate the multicultural diversity of Jerusalem, and to bring people together who don’t usually meet.

And it was really, really exciting.

I would like to thank you for the pleasure of helping you, watching how you create the real Jerusalem with a lot of energy and in full faith.

Coming together to learn about one another

Coming together to learn about one another

I was brought to tears by the event that brought together formerly religious Haredi Jews and Muslims.

I skipped for joy when Runners without Borders told me that they can’t invite more people to the Jewish-Arab race because there were already 800 (!) runners registered and the police requested that there not be any  more.

Running for Tolerance and Peace

Running for Tolerance and Peace

I wasn’t able to take the smile off my face when I met  Ruth Kristina Vasileva a minute before a joint learning session of Hadith and Talmud, especially after I saw the amazing people who came to study  together!

I didn’t believe how the mental health community creates an encounter with the outside world through board games and soup in the coolness of the Jerusalem autumn.

I was so excited to hear a poets’ exchange that brought together different identities through poetry.

That even the Citypass light rail company  joined the adventure and create a tour that connects the mental health community, Haredi women artists and the African community of Jerusalem on the light rail line.

At the Tolerance Stop on the light rail line

At the Tolerance Stop on the light rail line

And I saw secular, formerly religious Jews and Haredi Jews being angry at two Haredi newspaper editors, all the while speaking about tolerance and shared living, despite the disagreements.

And I was finally able to participate in a meeting with deaf people.

That Itamar Farhi again brought us an event of tolerance stories to the Katamonim, a place where life is so complicated and woven together that it screams for it.

I met a group of people – Armenians, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Palestinians, Israelis, Americans – who decided to eat a meal together to get to know one another better.

I was able to take part in a Sigd ceremony. There were so many events of Story Along the Way that made the story of Ethiopian-Israelis so well known around the Sigd Holiday.

Sigd ceremony

Sigd ceremony

We were able to provide a platform to inter-religious events.

I couldn’t believe that even light rail stations and the area in front of the Jaffa Gate became places of encounter.

We had a Jewish-Arab backgammon tournament and a religious-secular Jewish encounter on Saturday.

Backgammon tournament

Backgammon tournament

Sentences in Arabic, Hebrew and Yiddish peppered the public sphere.

And there were all sorts of other routine events in Jerusalem – in schools, in soccer clubs, and more – that simply brought people from all the different streams to remember that Jerusalem belongs to its residents. To all its residents.

Listening and learning

Listening and learning

Jerusalem? Jerusalem is the tolerance capital of its people.

We all live here in Jerusalem

We all live here in Jerusalem

Here’s a compilation of posts translated into English from the 0202 Facebook page:


And the original post in Hebrew:

And here’s Jerusalem Tolerance’s post and list of all the different initiatives:


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



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Little Prince in the Valley of the Cross

It all began with a question on Facebook – who hates all the litter in the Valley of the Cross? Valley of the Cross, in the center of Jerusalem, ‘down the hill’ from the Israel Museum and the Knesset, is named for the Georgian monastery that sits there. One of Jerusalem’s central ‘green lungs,’ a lot of activities take place there (helped by the fact that large youth movement chapters also have their home there), but they also leave behind numerous, polluting tracks.

This is one example of how the Little Prince program works. Residents initiate and drive projects to clean up Jerusalem, we provide any assistance or platforms, or help make connections, in order to facilitate the growth of the projects.

Fighting for a clean Valley of the Cross

Sign on right: The Valley is ours

The first post led to several others, and engaged more people. A Facebook event was created – anyone who’s interested in cleaning up the Valley of the Cross, let’s meet in front of the monastery on September 28, at 8pm.


We're all working for the Valley

We’re all working for the Valley

Usually the Valley is pretty deserted after dark, but this time, 15 people showed up to show their concern and launch into action.

After this meeting, each person took on one or another task, which led to a community clean-up day, during the Chanuka school vacation, on 15 December.

Scouts and other youth working to clean up the Valley

Scouts and other youth working to clean up the Valley

This wasn’t just another 4-people-with-garbage-bags clean up. It was a huge collaborative effort, with hundreds of volunteers and dozens of municipal workers. (A huge thank-you to all who turned up!)

Working together

Working together

The Jerusalem Municipality provided the garbage bags and and the means to carry them away.

500 bags of garbage!

500 bags of garbage!

Over 70 residents and their families, as well as 450 members of the local Scouts and Bnei Akiva youth movements (who have club houses in the Valley) participated in the cleanup, which resulted in 500 (!) garbage bags of junk.  a promise to contract an outside company to ensure the Valley stays clean.

Here’s one of the posts on Facebook (in Hebrew) from the Director of the Nayot Community Center, which borders on the Valley of the Cross, and a member of the organizing committee:

And another, from one of the activists:

The clean-up was covered by the local Kol Ha’Ir newspaper on December 22:

The cleanup making news

The cleanup making news

As part of the process, it was promised to contract an outside company to ensure that the Valley stays clean. We’ll keep you posted!

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2018-02-04T14:02:17+00:00 December 30th, 2017|Blog, Effective Activism, The Little Prince - Cleaning Jerusalem Together|

MiniActive – Story of a Corner Garbage Dump in A-Tur 2017

This is the story that has a happy ending, thanks to the involvement of MiniActive and local residents.

This is what the kids saw at the entrance to their kindergarten

This is what the kids saw at the entrance to their kindergarten

A new kindergarten director noticed a severe sanitation problem, basically right outside her door. There was an area that was not only filled to overflowing with household garbage, there was quite a bit of construction waste there too. In addition, the supporting wall to the kindergarten, which is adjacent to this ‘corner garbage dump,’ is in danger of collapsing, due to the garbage and construction nearby that dug beneath the wall.


Discussing how to improve A-Tur together

Discussing how to improve A-Tur together

Whose responsibility was it to clean this situation up? That’s a good question – City sanitation is definitely the Municipality’s job. But are they responsible for the construction waste, when it was there because of private construction? What about the supporting wall of the kindergarten, which is rented from a private owner by the Municipality?


Working together to make A-Tur cleaner

Working together to make A-Tur cleaner

MiniActive, the residents and the Municipality discussed these issues back and forth over a full month. On October 31, the municipal director for sanitation in East Jerusalem toured the area with residents in A-Tur. They came to an agreement of who will do what:

  1. The residents would properly dispose of the construction waste and repave the area.
  2. The Municipality agreed to sweep the streets regularly and to empty the garbage receptacle every two days.
  3. The residents, together with the kindergarten landlord, will collect money to re-build the faulty wall.
  4. The residents also agreed to cordon off an area for garbage, so that it won’t spill out onto the street.
The 'after' picture - all cleaned up and re-paved

The ‘after’ picture – all cleaned up and re-paved

Congratulations A-Tur! We’ll keep you posted on further developments.

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for its continuing support of the MiniActive project.

Here’s the ‘before’ situation, as picked up by the 0202 Facebook page:

Here’s the final product in English, from the 0202 Facebook page:

And here’s the original post in Arabic:

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MiniActive – Celebrating a New Playground in Shuafat

It’s always nice to see the fruits of your labors.

Want to come and play in Shuafat?

Want to come and play in Shuafat?

It’s even more rewarding when these fruits have taken time in coming.

In the spring and summer of 2015, MiniActive women, especially from Shuafat and northern Jerusalem, were asked to take part in a process of public participation to plan a playground. On the one hand it was an incredibly sensitive time (things really hadn’t been the same since the Gaza war the previous summer); on the other hand, the dearth of playgrounds and open green spaces in East Jerusalem is such that this was an opportunity that couldn’t be missed.

We're sure it's pretty crowded in the afternoons

We’re sure it’s pretty crowded in the afternoons

This playground was one of several that were planned throughout Jerusalem, as part of a joint project with the Jerusalem Municipality and the Bloomberg Philanthropies. (You can read here about a similar playground that was planned and constructed in Gilo, and here about the earlier process.)

Not only playground, but grassy lawns as well

Not only playground, but grassy lawns as well

The Gilo playground was renewed in 2016. And many in Shuafat, had lost faith that the Municipality would actually install the playground as they discussed. But lo and behold, one bright summer’s day, our MiniActive women were walking in Shuafat and found this, which was installed this past summer. Here’s a video of the new playground:


Have fun!

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for their continued support of the MiniActive project.

Here’s MiniActive’s Facebook posts about the discovery (in Arabic):

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2017-11-18T13:34:16+00:00 November 25th, 2017|Blog, Deliberative Democracy, Effective Activism, MiniActive, Palestinians/Arabs|

Working Together, Working Separately to Help Jerusalemites Live Safer, Live Longer

We wrote here about introducing the Living Safer, Living Longer program into the Haredi community in Jerusalem. But really, the program is not just in the Haredi sector, it’s being developed simultaneously in the Palestinian population, and in the ‘general’ (religious / secular Jewish) population. We’re especially excited about this new model for effective activism – each sector is focusing on preventive health / home safety, but each sector is developing, designing and refining the program to meet the specific needs of that community. All three sector share information and lessons learned, but the program is developing uniquely in each sector.  It is the community itself, through the volunteer Lead Teams – not the professionals – who are leading the way.

Volunteer Lead Team hearing about self breast exams from a nurse from the Bishvilech organization

Haredi Volunteer Lead Team hearing about breast self-exams from a nurse from the Bishvilech organization

We’re now getting down to business in all three sectors. There have been 5 meetings of the Haredi volunteer Lead Team, which chose to focus on preventive medicine. Thus far, they’ve learned about different issues affecting babies and toddlers, to youth, to women and seniors. Some of the lectures were given by nurses from the local well-baby clinic, and others from the Bishvilech organization, is the first and only woman to woman nonprofit organization in Israel focused on preventive medical care. (One of the lecturers was a female Haredi doctor, whose husband studies in Yeshiva, and who works at Sha’are Zedek hospital and volunteers with United Hatzalah emergency response organization. We thought she was really cool.) The team is currently in a learning stage, and are also considering learning about home safety as well. As the learning process progresses the team will come up with a checklist that will be used when going into people’s homes.

The West Jerusalem team (religious and secular Jews) has also had five meetings. They chose to focus on home safety, and learned about home safety for children from the Beterem organization, and learned about home safety for senior citizens from the Milbat organization. (They also tried out Milbat’s phone app for home safety for seniors.) They’ve already devised a checklist, and are in the process of revising and refining it. Members have even designed a logo (we’ll share it when it’s final), and are networking to bring in more participants into the program.

Introducing Living Safer, Living Longer to MiniActive women in East Jerusalem

Introducing Living Safer, Living Longer to MiniActive women in East Jerusalem

And on November 8, we held the first meeting of one of two Arab East Jerusalem teams. This 20-woman team is from the MiniActive program, one of East Jerusalem’s largest networks of volunteers, which has been working since 2012 to improve infrastructure in East Jerusalem. In this introductory session we presented the program, its importance and its principles. Right now they’re also focusing on home safety, and the next meeting next week will feature a lecturer from the Beterem organization, who will talk about home safety and children. Until then, the women were asked to photograph a place in or around their homes and ask themselves if this area really is safe for children. How would you do in such as test?

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Meaningful Trash Talk in the City Center

Usually the term “trash-talk” is used when sports competitors try to psych each other out to get even a little competitive edge.

We, together with activists from all sectors and populations, have also been doing a lot of “trash talk” lately, but this kind is critically important to how we view our city. And to how we smell – and experience – our city.

Through the Little Prince – Cleaning Up Jerusalem initiative, we’ve been mentoring activists from all over the city. In our unique model of advancing grassroots activism throughout the city, we’ve been working with groups from the ‘regular’ Jewish (religious / secular) sector, the Haredi sector, as well as the Palestinian sector of the city. As in many of our activities, we are there to help, follow-up, and support. But the real work comes from the grassroots – and to those residents we tip our hat!

One of the more active groups has been one led by residents of the City Center, who deal with a range of issues, from garbage collection to restaurant exhaust, and more. Some issues are caused by their proximity to the Mahane Yehuda market and its numerous stalls and restaurants. Some are due to its location in the city center, in the heart of Jerusalem’s commercial and business district.

On September 27 the group held an organizational meeting at the local community center, in which they discussed the different problems as well as potential solutions.

Meeting to discuss solutions

Meeting to discuss solutions

A month later, the group held a protest at city hall, and as a result the mayor asked to receive a detailed report about the health and sanitation hazards the residents face. Here’s a collage of pictures from the protest:

October 26 at the Municipality

October 26 at the Municipality

They also decided to form a resident forum on sanitation in the community. In continuation of this process, on November 9 the forum held a tour of the Mahane Yehuda market for 50 people.

November 9 tour of Mahane Yehuda

November 9 tour of Mahane Yehuda

Here’s a Facebook post that describes the tour, which took place on November 9:

This is the whole text of the post:

‘Following the smells of urine and smoke’ –

Last night we held a tour, the first of its kind, joined by 50 participants, to get a closer look at what is going on in the backyards and houses of the Mahane Yehuda market area.
The participants in the tour heard, smelled and saw the serious hazards in the area, and left with deep impressions. During the tour, we met with various professionals who gave their opinions, along with residents who painfully told of how they were forced to suffer daily from serious environmental hazards, including strong and polluting smells from illegal chimneys and unsafe gas cylinders, sanitary hazards, unreasonable noise and threats to our personal safety. One of the places that shocked the participants most was during a visit to a family home, where businesses installed chimney and compressor openings from all sides directed at the family’s windows, including the children’s room.
This is one of a series of tours that are expected to take place in order to raise social awareness of what is happening in the area. We will continue to work together until an appropriate response is given to the quality of life, health, and safety of the residents.

The City Center group has also managed to convince the Municipality to give a thorough cleaning to the streets:


As part of the Little Prince initiative we’re following the efforts of City Council members, Deputy Mayors and other city officials to push for a cleaner city. There are many more than what we’re able to post here. Here’s a video posted recently of a City Council meeting:


We’ll keep you posted on future developments.

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Put on Your Tolerance Hat! Tolerance Week – November 10 – 18

November 16 is International Tolerance Day. But there are so many activities advancing tolerance in Jerusalem, why limit it to only one day? Last year we asked a simple question in our JerusalemTolerance Listserv: How many people are doing things to celebrate Tolerance Day? In a very short period of time we had a list of 15 activities.

How many events this year?

How many events this year?

And thus Tolerance Week was born. This year there are 25 public events, and another 6-7 specially-organized events that are not open to the general public. All of these events are being planned and organized by local activists and organizations. Thank you to all Jerusalemites who are making Jerusalem tolerant! Only in Jerusalem has International Tolerance Day turned into and entire week of activities advancing tolerance…

And of course, many thanks to to the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jerusalem Foundation for their support in advancing tolerance in Jerusalem!

Here’s the full list of events in English:

Friday, Nov 10
9 AM // A joint Arab-Jewish 5 KM race – Runners Without Borders

Sunday, Nov 12
9 AM // Coffee and Cake, Talmud and Hadith
For those who like to start their week with a good, strong coffee with cardamom and deep philosophic discussions on the eternal topics which bothered even the old wise scholars of the Talmud and Hadith. Add to this some home-made vegan cakes and cosy central location between the East and West of Jerusalem, at Kids4Peace Jerusalem.
RSVP with Ruth
Details here >> https://www.facebook.com/events/128517611247139/

8:30 PM // Face to Face – Mashiv HaRuach host a panel with three Jerusalmite poets in a conversation about the opportunities that arise out of meeting “the other”, at Tmol Shilshom.

Monday, Nov 13
4:30 PM // Arabic-Hebrew language exchange. Space is limited, reserve with Yiftach at marhabagetz@gmail.com.

Tuesday, Nov 14
All day // Dialogue in a Mixed City Conference

10:00 AM // A special Praying Together in Jerusalem gathering during the Dialogue in Mixed Cities Conference.
Details here >> https://wordpress.us11.list-manage.com/track/click?u=ea237027dafc795a8aa23fdc7&id=445a54711b&e=966f8fffa3

4:50 PM // Tolerant Light Rail Tour – The light rail is the city’s tolerant backbone, connecting between different communities in the city. Come meet the communities that live in Jerusalem that might not live on our street.

5 PM // Kids4Peace Jerusalem invite high school youth to a special conference about solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For more information >> bar.rappaport@k4p.org.

8 PM // 0202 Presents: An Evening With Jerusalem’s Haredi Press. How are behind-the-scenes decisions made in the fast moving and contentious world of Haredi media? How does the Haredi population – constituting a third of Jerusalem’s population and an indispensable societal and cultural force within our city – express itself in print and online? All this and more will be discussed with two veterans of the Haredi media world: Yitzhak Matityahu Tennenbaum, editor of Hamodia newspaper and Moshe Grylak, editor of the Mishpacha magazine.

8:30 PM // Secular and Haredi Jerusalemites talk about the Army – Tarbus invites us to a discussion about the army with Yaakov Weiss from the Jerusalemite Peleg, Itzik Whiskey from the Haredi Unit, secular blogger Shalom Bogoslavksy, and Haredi journalist Eli Bitan.

Wednesday, Nov 15
All day // Dialogue in a Mixed City Conference

7 PM // The Ex-Religious – an intersectoral conversation about leaving the religious world, hosted by Out for Change.

8 PM // Sign Language Workshop and conversation about the hearing-impaired life at Hamifletzet Pub.

8 PM // Storytelling – Stories about tolerance at HaButke.

8 PM // Inter-Feast – An Inter-Feast is an opportunity for people who are passionate about their foods, cultures and identities and who have an urge to share them with others interested in listening. Sitting down for a meal is one of the most natural and impactful human connectors. The memories, nostalgia and foundational identities derived from the diverse foods and flavors from our traditions are meaningful, worth keeping and most importantly – worth sharing. I invite you to come and experience an evening filled with meaningful discussion, homemade food and wonderful people.

8:30 PM // Stories on the Way at Shira Meirson’s house in the Katamonim, in light of the Sigd holiday. Come hear the personal story of an Ethiopian Oleh!

Thursday, Nov 16
10:30 // Joining the Sigd Holiday at the Armon Hanatziv Promenade, together with Tali Ysia from Open Holidays.

12:30 – 18:00 // Kehilat Zion invites us to volunteer at the thrift store that brings together Christians, Muslims, and Jews from East and West Jerusalem.

2 PM // The Roma Club Gerusalemme soccer practice – come see the weekly soccer practice where Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Armenian kids play weekly. Must coordinate with Samuel –

3 PM // Beyond the Shuk – Ir Amim in a special tour about daily life in East Jerusalem.

7 PM // Souls Meet – A special meeting with people with mental disabilities through games, music and soup.

7:30 PM // Sigd Celebration at Beit Avi Chai

7:30 PM // White Night at the Museum of Islamic Art with a special Jewish-Arab backgammon tournament.

Friday, November 17
2 – 4 PM // Jerusalem Stories – Let’s rebuild our sense of human connection by sharing and listening to eachother’s personal stories about Jerusalem. Come together to share at least 2 minutes of personal Jerusalem story-telling with a stranger. In Jerusalem, with this event, we can begin to acknowledge each and one of us as human beings and Jerusalemites in all our rich diversity.

//Coming Soon//
A widespread campaign to learn basic Yiddish and Arabic, by Tag Meir.

//Events not open to the public//
– Tolerance activities for schools at the Museum of Islamic Art
– Stories on the Way at Argentina Elementary School
– Sigd activities at Evelina de Rothschild Middle and High Schools
– Sigd activities at Dror High School
– Meeting various Jerusalemite figures from all backgrounds at Harel High School
– 5 meetings with children and parents of the Kids4Peace Jerusalem branch.

And here’s the Facebook event:


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MiniActive – Teaching First Aid for Teachers and for the General Public

As in the past, this year MiniActive is again offering a range of courses to help participants as mothers, and to grow as people.

Teaching critical first aid to educators

Teaching critical first aid to educators

Last week, on October 17, 20 teachers and teachers’ aides began a 44-hour advanced first aid course, designed only for educators. This course will be approved and its graduates will be qualified by the Ministry of Education, and it will run until December.

Learning the basics of CPR

Learning the basics of CPR

This is the second such course that MiniActive has offered over the past few months.

Learning First Aid to help their families

Learning First Aid to help their families

In August they held a short, 22-hour introductory course, for 35 Palestinian women from all over East Jerusalem.

Different aspects of urgent first aid care

Different aspects of urgent first aid care

The course consisted of 5, 4 – 4 1/2 – hour meetings. This was one of the first activities held at MiniActive’s new offices in Sheikh Jarrach.

Learning CPR

Learning CPR

All came out of the first meeting enthusiastic for the rest.

Measuring blood pressure, pulse

Measuring blood pressure, pulse

Here’s a Facebook post from the MiniActive Facebook page at the beginning of the 44-hour course:

And at the beginning of the shorter course in August:

And here’s a Facebook post from the end of the August course:


Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for its ongoing support of the MiniActive program!

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0202 in the New York Times!

Congratulations to our mentee 0202 – Points of View from Jerusalem! As well as Mekudeshet and Jerusalem Double, all Jerusalem-based initiatives aimed as advancing tolerance in Jerusalem. They’ve been mentioned in the New York Times!

Here’s the opening headline:

Here's the headline

Here’s the headline

Here’s a link to the article online, and the text is below. (You can download a .pdf version here.) It was a great article, not only about 0202 – Points of View from Jerusalem, but about a range of activities that are giving hope to those in Jerusalem, and throughout the world. 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, and to the Leichtag Foundation for the support of 0202.

Here’s the text of the article:

In Jerusalem, Looking for Peace in Backgammon and Music

As the moon rose over the ancient stones on another night, 2,000 people, most of them Israelis but including scores of Palestinians, squeezed onto benches at an outdoor pop concert in Arabic and Hebrew.

Part of the annual Mekudeshet festival, the concert was called “Kulna”— Arabic for “all of us,” and close to the Hebrew “Kulanu” of the same meaning — and was billed as “a night without borders” and a glimpse of “the Middle East of our dreams.”

Just weeks earlier, the Old City and its environs seemed on the verge of explosion, the focus of mass Muslim prayers, protests and bloody clashes prompted by the latest crisis over the Aqsa Mosque compound.

A deadly wave of Palestinian stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks that broke out two years ago is still fresh in many residents’ minds, and the 50th anniversary celebrations of Israel’s capture of East Jerusalem from Jordan in the June 1967 war only accentuated the city’s deep political, religious and social divisions.

Still, after years of impasse in the peace process, a growing number of Israelis and Palestinians seem to be searching for creative ways to bypass politics, reaching across the divide to find professional peers, new resources and receptive audiences. And a number of recent events have sought to provide a common language for Israelis and Palestinians here.

On Sunday, thousands of supporters of Women Wage Peace, a Jewish-Arab movement established after the Gaza war of 2014, converged, first in a reconciliation tent in the desert near Jericho in the West Bank, and then at a rally in Jerusalem. And a website, 0202, named for Jerusalem’s 02 telephone area code, translates local news into Hebrew and Arabic.

Riman Barakat, an East Jerusalem-born Palestinian peace activist, is involved in both the Mekudeshet festival and Women Wage Peace. “You may think I’m naïve,” she told a group of Israelis on a recent tour of the seam between East and West Jerusalem, “but there can’t be any other way for me.”

Given the history, organizing anything in this city is a complicated, risky business, particularly if it involves both Israelis from the predominantly Jewish west side and Palestinians from the east, which Israel annexed in a move that was never internationally recognized.

“We understand it’s a risk, and that’s the inspiration,” said Karen Brunwasser, the deputy director of Mekudeshet, adding, “It’s all about showing people, even Jerusalemites, what they have not yet seen.”

The festival producers were in the midst of selling tickets when Israel unilaterally placed metal detectors around the Aqsa Mosque compound, a contested and volatile holy site, after a shooting attack that killed two police officers.

“People were phoning the box office saying they wanted to book, but is it safe?” Ms. Brunwasser said. “These are the liabilities of living in and producing a festival in Jerusalem. But when it works it’s the most extraordinary thing.”

The Kulna concert brought together an eclectic cast of artists. The king of Palestinian rap from the Shuafat refugee camp in northeast Jerusalem teamed up with a Tel Aviv poet of Yemeni descent known as the angry voice of Israel’s Mizrahim, or Jews who hail from North Africa and the Middle East.

An Armenian from Jerusalem’s Old City sang duets with a soulful Arab Israeli singer, and Jews sang in Hebrew and Arabic. An after-party at a club in West Jerusalem featured Palestinian hip-hop artists from East Jerusalem and, in what was probably a first, fellow rappers from Ramallah, Jericho and Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

One factor contributing to the new collaboration is the so-called Mizrahi awakening of a younger generation connecting with its Arab cultural roots.

The after-party was organized by the Jerusalem disc jockey Ram Spinoza, a.k.a. DJ Ramzy, whose grandmother came from Syria, and who specializes in contemporary Middle Eastern music. Mr. Spinoza, who served in the Israeli Air Force, regularly holds his signature “Monolingua” parties in West Jerusalem’s alternative music venues, letting the music do the talking.

“I stopped hoping for a peace agreement,” Mr. Spinoza said in an interview, “so I do it my own way — I live the peace.” Of the more traditional methods of fostering coexistence in the city, he added: “Dialogue groups are not the best fun. This is fun.”

Mr. Spinoza often hosts Palestinian rappers like the duo Muzi Raps, from the Old City, and Raed Bassem Jabid, from the Palestinian neighborhood of At-Tur on the Mount of Olives. “If you’re looking for peace,” Mr. Jabid said, “you’ll find the peace.”

Even in peacetime, though, attempts to escape politics can be viewed as political. Many Palestinians, for instance, reject what they call cultural normalization with the Israelis.

The Jerusalem-Armenian musician, Apo Sahagian, whose guitar was recently held by the Israeli airport authorities for extra security screening, appeared to be grappling with those sensitivities.

On the day of the Kulna concert, a post appeared on the Facebook page of Apo & the Apostles, Mr. Sahagian’s band, denying rumors that it was scheduled to perform in Jerusalem. The band, most of whose members come from Bethlehem, in the West Bank, declined to comment and the post appears to have been taken down.

The backgammon tournament did break down a few barriers. The idea came about when a group of Israeli and Palestinian activists took a break from a tense brainstorming session and looked for an activity that would let people engage with one another. They ended up playing backgammon.

Karem Jubran, a Palestinian from the Shuafat camp, said his friends came to the tournament for “the love of the game.”

A youth from the camp, Abdullah Jubran, 16, said he had taught himself to play by watching YouTube and hoped to win the 25,000 shekel (almost $7,000) prize. He was knocked out of the competition early, though a friend of his father reached the finals.

Hundreds of players faced off across rows of tables in qualifying rounds in the Armenian and Jewish quarters of the Old City and on the grassy verge outside the Damascus Gate to the Muslim quarter, the scene of numerous attacks in the past two years.

Zaki Djemal, an Israeli of Syrian descent and a founder of the tournament, acknowledged that many of the Israeli players assigned to the Damascus Gate area were frightened and asked to be moved.

But Mr. Djemal said he was not nervous. “It’s a state of mind,” he said.

Here’s the Facebook post from our Grassroots Campaign for Tolerance Coordinator, Michal Shilor:


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