Jewish-Palestinian/Arab

Learning Arabic with Experience – Our Own Anwar Ben Badis featured in the Times of Israel

On Sunday, January 21, 2018, one of our veteran Arabic teachers, Dr. Anwar Ben Badis, was featured in an article in the Times of Israel news site. Below is the text, here is a link to the original article (and here is a link to a .pdf version). Looking to learn Arabic yourself? Our classes are full this year, but watch our website (https://jicc.org.il/heb/center-for-arabic-instruction/) for further details for next year!

Anwar Ben-Badis

Anwar Ben-Badis

Al-salam alaikum! Is it finally time for Israelis to learn Arabic?

Teachers and language schools are noticing a rise in the number of locals learning Arabic, although attitudes and angles depend on who’s teaching, and where

In the 20 years linguist Anwar Ben-Badis (emphasis ours) has been teaching Arabic, he’s heard nearly every reason why Jewish Israelis choose to learn his native language.

 There are liberals and lefties hoping for peace and a way to bridge gaps.

There are right-wingers and settlers; one settler eventually left the West Bank and moved into Israel proper.

Even President Reuven Rivlin studied with Ben-Badis, as did Knesset member Benny Begin.

His students are generally Jerusalemites who, as residents of a simultaneously mixed and divided city, brush up against their Arab neighbors at the supermarket, the mall and the movie theater and want to be able to say “excuse me” in Arabic (aläafw), or “I only speak a little Arabic” (anaa ataHaddath faqaT qaliil min aläarabiyya).

Perhaps they also want to know what the imam is calling from the minaret at 4 a.m.

His students, some 300 this year, study three hours a week — plus homework — hoping to achieve a comfortable level of spoken Arabic.

Actually, learning a little Arabic is something of a trend right now, particularly among adults who have  time to spare and believe that when your neighbor speaks a different language, it’s important to know what they’re saying.“It’s important to me to help them understand that it’s very acceptable to learn Arabic, even though it’s the language of the enemy,” said Ben-Badis. “I’m trying to help free the Israeli student from thinking of it as the enemy’s language, but rather as a way to connect with me. It’s not obvious to them.”

The Jerusalem municipality offers continuing education language classes each year in Arabic and Hebrew, as well as Spanish, Italian and Yiddish. There isn’t generally a huge demand for Italian, said Hagit van der Hoven, who heads the continuing education department, but the Arabic classes are always full.

This year, the municipality opened Arabic classes to its staff as well. “We figured that was the right thing to do,” said van der Hoven. “In Jerusalem, we have joint lives, and we just need it.”

In Tel Aviv, Ishmael Ben Israel, the linguist co-founder of A.M.A.L. — Spoken Arabic for All, a nonprofit that places Palestinian university students in elementary schools in and around Tel Aviv to act as ambassadors of Arabic culture — is also the CEO of LingoLearn, a for-profit, online language learning site. He has hundreds, maybe thousands of students currently studying Arabic, said Ben Israel, whose “hippie” parents named him for the eldest son of the biblical Abraham, a prophet and patriarch in Islam.

Ariel Olmert, the son of former prime minister Ehud Olmert, founded Ha-ambatia, or The Bathtub, a private language school with branches in Tel Aviv and Haifa. Having added Arabic classes to its French offerings four years ago, the school now has 400 students learning Arabic. It creates its own educational materials and aims to make language acquisition a living, breathing endeavor.

In the 20 years linguist Anwar Ben-Badis has been teaching Arabic, he’s heard nearly every reason why Jewish Israelis choose to learn his native language.
There are liberals and lefties hoping for peace and a way to bridge gaps.

There are right-wingers and settlers; one settler eventually left the West Bank and moved into Israel proper.

Even President Reuven Rivlin studied with Ben-Badis, as did Knesset member Benny Begin.

His students are generally Jerusalemites who, as residents of a simultaneously mixed and divided city, brush up against their Arab neighbors at the supermarket, the mall and the movie theater and want to be able to say “excuse me” in Arabic (aläafw), or “I only speak a little Arabic” (anaa ataHaddath faqaT qaliil min aläarabiyya).

Perhaps they also want to know what the imam is calling from the minaret at 4 a.m.

His students, some 300 this year, study three hours a week — plus homework — hoping to achieve a comfortable level of spoken Arabic.

“It’s important to me to help them understand that it’s very acceptable to learn Arabic, even though it’s the language of the enemy,” said Ben-Badis. “I’m trying to help free the Israeli student from thinking of it as the enemy’s language, but rather as a way to connect with me. It’s not obvious to them.”

Actually, learning a little Arabic is something of a trend right now, particularly among adults who have  time to spare and believe that when your neighbor speaks a different language, it’s important to know what they’re saying.

The Jerusalem municipality offers continuing education language classes each year in Arabic and Hebrew, as well as Spanish, Italian and Yiddish. There isn’t generally a huge demand for Italian, said Hagit van der Hoven, who heads the continuing education department, but the Arabic classes are always full.

This year, the municipality opened Arabic classes to its staff as well. “We figured that was the right thing to do,” said van der Hoven. “In Jerusalem, we have joint lives, and we just need it.”

 

In Tel Aviv, Ishmael Ben Israel, the linguist co-founder of A.M.A.L. — Spoken Arabic for All, a nonprofit that places Palestinian university students in elementary schools in and around Tel Aviv to act as ambassadors of Arabic culture — is also the CEO of LingoLearn, a for-profit, online language learning site. He has hundreds, maybe thousands of students currently studying Arabic, said Ben Israel, whose “hippie” parents named him for the eldest son of the biblical Abraham, a prophet and patriarch in Islam.

Ariel Olmert, the son of former prime minister Ehud Olmert, founded Ha-ambatia, or The Bathtub, a private language school with branches in Tel Aviv and Haifa. Having added Arabic classes to its French offerings four years ago, the school now has 400 students learning Arabic. It creates its own educational materials and aims to make language acquisition a living, breathing endeavor.

“It’s a complicated story why Jews don’t speak Arabic,” said Olmert. “Our idea was that we needed to do it with joy, not because we have to, or because it’s the right thing to do.”

Ben Israel thinks one reason for the heightened interest is the TV show “Fauda,” about an undercover army unit that operates in the Palestinian territories. All the operatives speak Arabic fluently, and Arabic is regularly heard on the show.

“’Fauda’ was a big thing, it created a lot of buzz,” said Ben Israel. “It’s now cool to speak Arabic; young people see these undercover guys and they’re singing a song in Arabic and it’s something they want to emulate.”

That wasn’t the case when he was a kid. Ben Israel, now 38, first learned Arabic in high school from a female soldier, which seemed reasonable at the time but later didn’t make sense to him.

“The militaristic connotations of learning Arabic aren’t normal,” he said.

He wants the study of Arabic to help young Israelis think about a civil shared society, and see Arabic as a language of peace, not of war.

Ditto for the teachers he employs, who are native Arabic speakers.

Amal Gaoui, a student at Tel Aviv University who teaches at Tel Aviv’s Gavrieli elementary school, likes that her young students, fourth graders, don’t come with any preconceived notions.

That is, for the most part. When she taught them the term “Allahu Akbar,” which means “God is great” and is often heard in conjunction with terrorist attacks, the students all looked at each other and laughed, said Gaoui. “They said, ‘Hamas says that.’”

This led to a conversation about good people and bad people. “It’s not just learning words,” she said, “but to understand why we’re learning this language.”

Ben Israel often hires Arab women working from home to teach in his online school.

“They’re making a living, and they now have this relationship with Jews,” he said. “At the schools, for the vast majority of the pupils, it’s actually the first time they’ve had any meaningful relationship with Arabs at all.”

Canadian immigrant Lee Gancman teaches Arabic to small groups of adults through the language school he founded, Damascus Gate. Gancman learned Arabic in college, later attending programs in Jordan and Damascus before making his way to Israel.

His students are Jewish Jerusalemites, who want to converse with vendors at the Mahane Yehuda market or chat about the weather with their butcher.

When Gancman advertises on Secret Jerusalem, an open Facebook group known for a startling array of posts on everything from finding bacon in Jerusalem to finding owners for stray dogs, he ends up with long threads about why people want to learn Arabic.

“You’d be surprised by the students,” he said.

It’s his religiously observant students who come into contact with Arabic speakers more often, generally in the Old City, said Gancman. “Secular students say, “‘I don’t know where to find Arabs.’”

Who’s your teacher?

The Jerusalem municipality’s Arabic teachers are Jewish, professional instructors who have been teaching the language for years, said van der Hoven.

When prospective students ask Ha-ambatia’s Olmert about his Arabic teachers, he tells them, “Our teachers speak Arabic as their native tongue. I’m not about race.”

About half of the students at Ha-ambatia are descendants of families where Arabic was one of the language and want to connect to their roots, said Olmert.

At the same time, while a fifth of Israel’s population speaks Arabic, the book most commonly used to teach spoken Arabic was written in the 1960s by a French priest, he pointed out.

“It’s actually a really nice book; he is a real lover of the language,” he said. But it’s written in Hebrew phonetics, which creates difficulties, he noted.

“It’s an exhausting process to learn a language,” said Olmert, who comes to the teaching of language through his study of French literature, and nine years of living in Paris. “There are the problems and paradoxes of learning spoken Arabic; Arabic is the language that’s everywhere and nowhere. We want our students to be able to speak and not get too caught up in the rules.”

Back in Jerusalem, Ben-Badis doesn’t shy away from the politics of learning Arabic; perhaps it’s the stubborn Jerusalemite in him.

He believes his native tongue should only be taught by native Arabic speakers who also understand the Israeli character.

“You’re teaching not just the language, but the culture,” he pointed out. “We’re in a particular region; the minute an Israeli Jews decides to learn Arabic, it’s not just a language, it’s a culture, it’s holidays, it’s the everyday stuff. They have no idea.”

This linguist, a PhD from Hebrew University who also interprets and teaches Aramaic, is unusually equipped to handle the Israeli student.

Raised in the north by his Muslim mother and Christian Arab father, Ben-Badis headed to Jerusalem for college, the city his mother hailed from, where his maternal grandfather studied at Hebrew University when classes were being held in Kiryat Moriah.

He lives in the neighborhood of Baka, up the block from his grandmother’s original stone house on Yehuda Street, now situated next to a Bnei Akiva youth group center and two religious Jewish public schools.

“My connection to this place isn’t as a visitor. I’m a son of this place. I know almost every corner of this city,” he said.

He is married to a Jewish American woman who was raised in Israel, and his father-in-law is a Reform rabbi actively engaged in interreligious peace building. Their 3-year-old daughter speaks Arabic, Hebrew and English, and Ben-Badis introduces her to his classes as “100 percent mixed, not half and half.”

“Jerusalem is exactly my daughter with all its shades,” he said. “We’re very tied to this city because we’re very similar to it, and therefore very close to it. I didn’t choose Jerusalem.”

He teaches Arabic with a similar flavor, “with his truth,” he said.

For most Arabic teachers, it’s a challenge to work with Jewish Israelis because it’s difficult to deal with Israeli chutzpah, particularly during stressful times when there are attacks or wars.

“Israelis don’t like to listen, they don’t like to be told what to do, they think they know everything,” said Ben-Badis. “I treat them like students. It’s not easy to learn a language, and I demand a lot. It creates a lot of back and forth and we work hard. But they’re not the boss here, I am.”

One student, a retired army colonel, told Ben-Badis he gave directions to Arabs his whole life and it wasn’t natural for him to reverse the process. Sometimes a student will ask Ben-Badis to write something on the board, but will say it in Hebrew, in the form of a command, and Ben-Badis won’t follow those orders.

“The powers are different in here and that’s how we progress,” he said. “I am who I am here. I’m Anwar, and I use my language as a resistance, to protect my identity.”

When he speaks Hebrew, it’s with a lilting set of rolling ‘r’s and harsh ‘ayin’ pronunciations, as he deliberately brings an Arabic flavor to the Jewish language.

“I don’t hide my Arabness — I show it everywhere,” he said.

He was once attacked on an Egged bus while speaking Arabic with his nephew. When his brother, a doctor in Haifa, went to help at a Gazan hospital during the 2014 war, Ben-Badis showed his students the WhatsApp texts he received from him, leading to difficult conversations and reactions.

An Israeli policeman was once sent to Ben-Badis’ classroom to check that he wasn’t teaching anything insubordinate.

None of it has stopped Ben-Badis from trying to expose as much of his culture as possible.

When his own parents were younger, Ben-Badis used to send students to spend the night at their house in order to speak Arabic and be exposed to their way of life. They often came back saying, “We never knew Arabs were like this.’”

“The meeting of Israelis with Arabic is more than a language class if the teacher is an Arab, it exposes them to the culture and realities of life,” he said.

In the Classroom

It’s 1 p.m. on a Wednesday, which means it’s almost time for the second class of the day at Jerusalem’s Islamic Art Museum, the elegant, art-filled building in Jerusalem’s Katamon neighborhood, where Ben-Badis teaches some of his weekly classes.

His students shuffle in, including an American-born Peace Now activist, a former Tel Aviv University professor of art history and a couple of twenty-somethings sprinkled among the mostly grey haired students. The earlier class included a journalist and a former ambassador.

Toward the end of each year, Ben-Badis takes his students on tours, as part of the process of learning the language. They visit the Al-Aqsa Mosque, stop in at some Arabic libraries in East Jerusalem, and join iftar meals and hear Sufi music during Ramadan.

“We’re not in a normal situation where learning the language is just to connect, it’s something else entirely,” said Ben-Badis. “It’s the difference between the Jewish student learning Arabic and a Palestinian from East Jerusalem learning Hebrew. Jews can live and earn a living without Arabic but an Arab needs Hebrew as a tool of earning a living. For Jews, Arabic is a bonus, it’s a privilege, because he’s the one in power.”

Teaching the language to Jewish Israelis, he said, isn’t about coexistence or bringing peace. In fact, said Ben-Badis, coexistence isn’t a word that he uses any longer.

“I want to help people, no matter who, get to know me better, Anwar, and my nation and my family and the people around me,” he said. “I’m not trying to convince them to change, I’m just trying to open a window or a door. I don’t want to be their friend, I’m showing them something else through the language. The language is a tool.”

(emphasis theirs) The language schools mentioned above can be contacted through the following links: LingoLearn, Ha-ambatia, Damascus Gate and Anwar Ben-Badis through the Jerusalem Intercultural Center. There are also learning language exchanges available through Facebook.

Congratulations Anwar!

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for its ongoing support of our Arabic-language classes.

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Eastward from Here – Training Activists in East Jerusalem

East Jerusalem has aroused the curiosity and interest of many activists in and around Jerusalem. But how much do they really know about this part of the city?

On tour in East Jerusalem

On tour in East Jerusalem, with Aviv Tatarsky of Ir Amim

In order to raise the level of activism in East Jerusalem, we, together with the Ir Amim organization, held an 8-session workshop called, Eastward from Here. The workshop sought to teach Jewish activists – all who work or seek to work in East Jerusalem – more about what is really going on on-the-ground, in order to enable them to be more effective in their work.

There are 22 participants, from a wide range of organizations – municipally-connected such as Moriah and the Young Adults Authority, New Spirit, Yerushalmim, Hamiffal and Blue and White Human Rights.

Each meeting dealt with a different issue, from effective dialogue and effective activism to East Jerusalem communities and East Jerusalem today to the basics of cultural competency. One of the meetings was a tour around different parts of East Jerusalem, led by Ir Amim researcher, Aviv Tatarsky.

From the workshop, participants are developing 15 different initiatives designed to work in East Jerusalem. These initiatives range from joint first aid courses for Jewish and Arab youth, Arabic-language study in Palestinian businesses in East Jerusalem, joint Jewish-Arab climbing club, academic assistance to East Jerusalem pupils, and more.

 This course is part of our Grassroots Campaign for Tolerance, supported by the UJA-Federation of New York. Many thanks also to Ir Amim for their partnership. We hope to see some very effective activism taking place in East Jerusalem very soon!
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0202 Holiday Bringing Jewish and Muslim Holidays Face to Face

A Jew and a Muslim walk on the streets of Jerusalem and talk – High Holidays?

That’s what happened last Thursday, August 31. Organized by 0202-Points of View from Jerusalem, the tour in honor of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha and the Jewish practice of Selichot before the Jewish High Holidays gave participants a first-hand glimpse of events that are central to both religions. Like the Internet and Facebook pages aim to do, the tour led participants into a world that is completely different than their own. A seeming parallel reality of their everyday lives, yet still in their home city of Jerusalem.

Anwar beginning the tour at the New Gate

Anwar beginning the tour at the New Gate

The tour was actually two separate tours, one right after the other. The first tour began outside the New Gate of the Old City. Guides Tamer and Anwar (in two separate groups, since the first group filled up quite quickly) took participants through the Muslim Quarter as the pre-holiday fast ended and the Eid al-Adha festival began. They revealed how the holiday is celebrated by Muslim Jerusalemites.

Tamer took participants on whirlwind tour of different groups in the Old City, as a way to shed light on the its diverse religious make-up.  They walked through the main thoroughfares of East Jerusalem, viewing the wondrous decorations and observing how this part of the city slowly woke up from its day of fasting. As night fell thousands of Jerusalem vendors, musicians, artists, families and performers came to the Old City to celebrate the holiday. As is custom on Eid al-Adha, people were getting haircuts and buying new clothes. Barbershops all over the city were filled to the brim with Muslims coming to get a new trim in honor of the holiday. Tamer also told about his own family traditions during the holiday. Toward the end of the tour Tamer also spoke about the identity of the Palestinians living in East Jerusalem.

When the first tour ended, the second tour, of traditional Selichot prayers in Ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, began. Ultra-Orthodox guide Ephraim led the groups. Ephraim took the tour to different yeshivot in order to explain the different practices surrounding Selichot. From Sephardim and Ashkenazim to the Hassidim to Mitnagdim, to the newly religious to kabbalah, they discussed possible parallels between Islam and Judaism. Both tours were riveting.

Ariella Bernstein, Chief of Staff at the Jerusalem Foundation who writes about her weekly Jerusalem unsung heroes, was so moved by the tour that she made the tour guides this week’s My Jerusalem Heroes:

Here’s the text of her post:

       I am not sure that Efraim Levy (אפרים לוי) and Tamer Said would have met without the moon. It’s the moon that sets Jewish and Muslim calendars and it is the coincidence of Muslim and Jewish holidays that brought them together. This weekend, Muslims celebrate the holiday of Eid Al Adha, the “Sacrifice Feast” honoring the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God. Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, is but a few weeks away and now is a time of serious contemplation.
       Efraim and Tamer honored each others’ faiths last night in a one-of-a kind tour organized by 0202 – A View from East Jerusalem and 0202 – מבט מירושלים החרדית, organizations that offer a glimpse into Jerusalem’s real people. Tamer, a Jerusalem-born Muslim, kicked off the evening as Eid Al Adha holiday celebrations began. Onward they walked as Efraim, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, led the group to take part in “Selichot,” penitential prayers chanted during the late night hours in the month before Rosh Hashana.
       Efraim and Tamer never met before last night yet they walked away with a better understanding of each other. “I learned about Islam’s diversity, its character, and how Eid Al Adha is celebrated,” said Efraim. Tamer saw commonality. “There is a faith-based understanding and acceptance, and what brought me closer was my feeling that I can identify with ultra-Orthodox society,” Tamer explained.
       What amazes me is the humility I heard in their voices, the reluctance in accepting the extraordinary nature of their cooperation. “I don’t think I have much to contribute above anyone else – I’m just an ultra-Orthodox student learning economics,” Efraim proclaimed. “Someone should represent Islam from the Palestinian perspective and talk with Jews on an interfaith level,” said Tamer. For their humility alone, Efraim and Tamer are #MyJLMHeroes this week.
       Your partnership last night was exceptional. You are the epitome of all that is sacred in #Jerusalem. Too bad the world wasn’t here to see it but at least the moon bore witness.

You can access the original post here.

0202 began in 2015 with one Arabic-to-Hebrew page, and received extensive mentoring from the JICC. 0202 has continued to develop, and today it consists of 3 Facebook pages (Arabic – Hebrew, Arabic – English, and Haredi – non-Haredi Hebrew), and reaches 150,000 people each week. Future plans call for 4 constantly-updated pages, tours like this and other events, making all of Jerusalem’s major populations accessible to everyone, world over.  We’re so proud of 0202, and we’re happy to offer them any more help they might need.

Thanks Tamer, Anwar and Ephraim! Thanks 0202 for the fantastic tours! Here’s the photo album that was posted on the 0202 Facebook page:

And many thanks to the Leichtag Foundation and the Jerusalem Foundation for their support of 0202-Points of View from Jerusalem and other efforts to promote tolerance in the city.

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Jerusalemite Day – Connecting Us To One Another / Celebrating the Diversity of the City

Jerusalem Day, the 28th of the Hebrew month of Iyar. That day in 1967 that the Israel Defense Forces captured the Old City. Some called it “reunification.” Others called in “occupation.” In all cases, it is etched in the hearts and minds of millions around the world.

For many years thousands descended upon Jerusalem on the 28th of Iyar in celebration of an ideal. But where were the Jerusalemites in these celebrations? Many did not leave their houses. Or they left the city for the day.

Many building blocks to Jerusalemite Day

Many building blocks to Jerusalemite Day

Starting last year, we, together with hundreds of activists and tens of thousands of Jerusalem residents, began to re-claim Jerusalem Day, with a true celebration of Jerusalem and its residents, of every race, ethnic group, religion and community. Our vision sought to create a day to celebrate Jerusalem – of Jerusalemites, by Jerusalemites and for Jerusalemites. Last year, 50 initiatives and thousands of people showed us that such an initiative was answering a real need in many residents hearts and minds. We had started a tradition in one single year. There was already talk of “what we’re going to do next year” before the sun set on A Different Day in Jerusalem 2016.

Our Director, Dr. Hagai Agmon-Snir, talked about this in the May 19 edition of the Jerusalem Post’s In Jerusalem section:

Jerusalem Post, In Jerusalem

Jerusalem Post, In Jerusalem

“This is our second year, which is really great. Last year people thought we were crazy, but now we have made it clear that it is the right thing to do.”

You can download a .pdf version here.

And then we we came to 2017. This year we called the day, Jerusalemite Day of Diversity.

Here’s a 2-minute video about some of the day’s 80 events:

Here’s a version in Hebrew/Arabic as well. There is also a dedicated web site with all the events, and here’s a complete list of  the events in English.

This year was even more complicated than last, being 50 years since the 1967 war.  One of the most often-used phrases  this year has been: “ירושלים – עיר שחוברה לה יחדיו – Jerusalem – A city that has been joined together” – (Psalms 122: 3)

Many use this phrase in the political sense, describing the reunification of Jerusalem. This year, we emphasized a different, non-political reading of the Hebrew verb, לחבר – lechaber, which encapsulates in one word our vision for Jerusalemite Day of Diversity.

Connecting through knitting in the Katamonim

Connecting through knitting in the Katamonim

In addition to ‘join together,’ lechaber also means ‘to connect.’  This is exactly what we are trying to do in Jerusalemite Day of Diversity.  In this Times of Israel blog post, Michal Shilor, our Coordinator for the Campaign for Grassroots Tolerance, wrote:

“we seek to connect residents to each other – neighbor to neighbor, community to community, people to people. When we connect to one another, we find common ground, argue about differences and see one another as individuals and not representatives of an entire community.”

As in most successful initiatives, Jerusalemite Day of Diversity wasn’t born in a day. In February we sent out a call for initiatives, asking residents to propose activities / initiatives / ideas for Jerusalemite Day, and in March we had our first Open Technology meeting for planning. Since then, we’ve been working with dozens and dozens of activists, helping them to plan, produce, and carry out their initiatives. Itamar Farhi, a Jerusalem storyteller who organized an evening of storytelling at the Shutaf Cooperative, noted that

What makes me love Jerusalem more than anything else is its variety and its contradictions, which are interwoven together, Arabs Haredim, secular, religious Jews, Muslims, Christians, people from all ethnicities and of all types. Together they create a special shatnes [mixture]. Sometimes it’s complicated and disheartening, but sometimes, it creates magical and special moments like yesterday [at the story telling evening].

Our job was to spark and mentor the passion of activists, spotlight and showcase their activities, and re-frame the whole to make one beautiful celebration of Jerusalem and its spectrum of residents. And the vast range of activities throughout the Day sought to do just this. You could choose from playing sports, such as soccer with Jewish and Arab girls in Hapoel Katamon’s Neighborhood League Tournament,

Religious and secular, Jewish and Arab girls playing soccer

Religious and secular, Jewish and Arab girls playing soccer

and martial arts on the midrachov (Ben Yehuda St. In west Jerusalem’s city center) with Mosaica,

All passersby welcome to learn ju jiistu

All passersby welcome to learn ju jiistu with “Mosaica”

To tours of Jerusalem’s urban centers in both East and West Jerusalem with Ir Amim,

With Eran Tzidkiyahu and Ir Amim

With Eran Tzidkiyahu and Ir Amim

of Mount Zion as a symbol for the complexities of Jerusalem with Window to Mount Zion,

With our very own Window to Mt Zion

With our very own Window to Mt Zion project

on the seam line between Haredi and non-Haredi Jerusalem by Tarbus,

Between Haredi and non-Haredi Jerusalem

Focusing on Nahlaot, Jaffa Road, Mekor Baruch

of the National Library

"City of Dreams" Exhibit at the National Library

“City of Dreams” Exhibit at the National Library

and of Jerusalem from the viewpoint of African refugees and asylum seekers, by members of the Jerusalem African Community Center.

By the Jerusalem African Community Center

With active residents from the Jerusalem African Community Center

You could also choose to see performances. There was Bat Hur at Beit Hansen,

Bat Hur at Beit Hanson

Bat Hur at Beit Hansen

Beit Alliance,

"Heroes" by religious male dance troupe, Between Heaven and Earth

“Heroes” by religious male dance troupe, Between Heaven and Earth

the Abraham Hostel,

Souls (Nefashot) – Coping through Art

Souls (Nefashot) – Coping through Art

The Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem (Click here to go to the project’s web site),

50 Years 50 Faces Project

50 Years 50 Faces Project, 50 short films about Jerusalemites

Wandering Around the House, on roofs in the Old City

Wandering around the House

Wandering around the House, short play in which a Palestinian man and a Jewish woman choose to take an open place and claim it as their house

at the Museum of Italian Jewry,

Staged Reading of ‘Everything Private,’ play based on meeting minutes of the Barashi synagogue’s board in Nahlaot

Staged Reading of ‘Everything Private,’ play based on meeting minutes of the Barashi synagogue’s board in Nahlaot

And the First Station.

My Heart is in the East – Jerusalem in the Eyes of North African Liturgy

My Heart is in the East – Jerusalem in the Eyes of North African Liturgy

There was also a movie marathon at the Ma’ale School of Television, Film and the Arts.

Student films that dealt with and take place in Jerusalem, covering the entire spectrum of lifestyles

Student films that dealt with and take place in Jerusalem, covering the entire spectrum of lifestyles

There were also a number of lectures and discussions, including discussions with Haredim, new Harediam and the formerly religious,

Israelis of Ethiopian descent, describing their sometimes arduous aliyah stories,

To discussions about Jerusalem

Holiness and Politics: Jerusalem of Three Religions – A panel by the Rossing Center for Education and Dialogue (Formerly JCRC)

Holiness and Politics: Jerusalem of Three Religions – A panel by the Rossing Center for Education and Dialogue (Formerly JCRC)

And of course we can’t leave out the major events in the public sphere. The Jerusalemite Parade, with 3,000 marchers along the Jerusalem Railway Park, was one of the major events.

All Jerusalemites marching along the Jerusalem Railway Park

All Jerusalemites marching along the Jerusalem Railway Park

Along the way, marchers were invited to design cookies that represented their Jerusalem, a tolerant Jerusalem:

Cookie decorated with, "Everyday Jerusalem," produced by Jerusalem Cake Design

Cookie decorated with, “Everyday Jerusalem,” produced by Jerusalem Cake Design

In parallel, cookie and cake designers from all over the world were invited to design cookies for Jerusalemite Day, in an initiative called, “Let’s Bake a Difference.” Here’s an example from a decorator from Malaysia:

"With the support of peace, respect, hope, gratitude and loves bloom the flower of tolerance in Jerusalem," commented the artist

“With the support of peace, respect, hope, gratitude and loves bloom the flower of tolerance in Jerusalem,” the artist wrote

Afterward, participants were invited to take part in the Believers festival at the First Station.

Believers – An evening of inter-religious prayer and listening circles, on listening and the Holy City, with Kehillat Zion, Marsh Dondurma, Tahrir Eastern Bar and the Yerushalmim Movement, and Arab and secular and Haredi Jewish leaders.

An evening of inter-religious prayer and listening circles, on listening and the Holy City, and Arab and secular and Haredi Jewish leaders.

Nearby, residents of the Katamonim neighborhood celebrated their Jerusalem-ness with workshops on knitting, kubbeh-making, songs and dances, and much more.

Making kubbeh with Hannah

Making kubbeh with Hannah

In town, there was of course the 200-strong Flower Parade organized by Tag Meir, that distributed flowers to the Palestinian residents of the Old City, before the Flag Parade.

Gathering with flowers before going into the Old City

Gathering with flowers before going into the Old City

At the light rail station at Safra Square, the Ruach Nachon pre-Army Preparatory Program operated the Tolerance Stop, which greeted passersby with music and activity to demonstrate the necessity of working together.

Working together, building Jerusalem

Working together, building Jerusalem

Further on down the light rail, at Davidka Square, we, together with the Citypass company (that runs the light rail) and Lego, ran a station that invited passersby to build their Jerusalem out of Lego. (There were even specially-painted gold Lego pieces to build Jerusalem of Gold!)

Diverse Jerusalemites building Jerusalem from lego

Diverse Jerusalemites building Jerusalem from lego

People built the Calatrava Bridge at the entrance to Jerusalem

Do you know how many times this fell apart before it worked?

Do you know how many times this fell apart before it worked?

A mosque

Building all parts of Jerusalem

Building all parts of Jerusalem

And even “Jerusalem” in Chinese! (this has been checked for accuracy with a fluent Chinese-speaker)

Jerusalem in Chinese

Jerusalem in Chinese

Nearby at the Alliance Building there were more celebrations with the Jerusalem for All of Us festival, which featured a stage for Jerusalemite performers, a panel on Jerusalem entrepreneurship, stands selling art, art installations and a poetry slam.

Jerusalem for All of Us

Jerusalem for All of Us

Close to the Ben Yehuda midrechov, Shir Ezra, working independently, wrote questions about Jerusalem on a large white sheet, such as: Is Jerusalem open? Is it tolerant? Does it represent us all? She invited passersby to write their answers, also on the sheet. She reported that many interesting discussions arose from this activity.

Is Jerusalem reunited? Tolerant? Open?

Is Jerusalem reunited? Tolerant? Open?

And in the Haredi neighborhood of Mekor Baruch, graffiti artist Salomon Souza led Haredi boys and girls in decorating the walls of their neighborhood, with a number of onlookers.

Organized by the Artists Shelter that works in the area

Organized by the Art Shelter Gallery that works in the area

After all those pictures, here’s the 2 minutes video again:

The event was also covered in the press. In addition to the Jerusalem Post article above, there were a number of articles in the Hebrew Israeli press before and after the event. This included a mention in the May 17 edition of the national  Ha’aretz daily newspaper, in both its Internet and print versions. Here’s a picture of the print article. You can download the .PDF version here.

First page, Ha'aretz Article

Ha’aretz Article, “A New Agenda for Jerusalem Day”

And here’s the second page:

Second Page, Ha'aretz article

Second Page, Ha’aretz article

This article quotes JICC Director, Dr. Hagai Agmon-Snir:

The point is that Jerusalemites are saying that they want to take back the day for themselves. I’m a Jerusalemite, what does this discussion about moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem have to do with me? We don’t want to argue about whether we re-unified or occupied. We want to celebrate the diversity of the city.

On May 18, we appeared in Globes, a major national financial newspaper:

Globes article

Globes article

 

In addition, Michal Shilor was interviewed in Hebrew on the national Galei Zahal radio station on May 22, (minute 5.30).

Hagai was also interviewed (in Hebrew) on the national Educational Television station:

There were also stories in the local Hebrew-language Jerusalem news site about the Lego initiative and the wall art. In addition, Eetta Prince-Gibson wrote about us in her opinion piece for Moment magazine, “It’s Hard to Celebrate on Jerusalem Day.”

Over 80 initiatives, tens of thousands of people, celebrating Jerusalem’s diversity. Can’t wait for next year!

Many thanks to the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jerusalem Foundation for their support of this and other activities that promote tolerance throughout the year. And a huge thanks to all the organizations, initiatives, activists and participants who took part! Thank you for helping to make Jerusalem a city that represents all Jerusalemites.

 

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Wouldn’t You Like to Know What He’s Saying?

Doesn’t this tour look interesting?

It’s on Salah a-Din St. in East Jerusalem, where Jerusalem’s Ramadan cannon is located. The Ramadan cannon is traditionally used to announce the end of the daily fast during the Ramadan month.

This past week, our veteran Arabic teacher, Dr. Anwar Ben-Badis, took students on a tour of cemetery, where Jerusalem’s Ramadan cannon is located. Since they’ve been studying Arabic all year, his talk was of course, in Arabic.

Looking to learn Arabic for communication? Feel free to sign up for our 2017-2018 courses. (Click here for the online form in Hebrew.) But hurry! Places are filling fast!

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for its continued support of our language courses.

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Learning Arabic through Living It

There’s nothing better in learning a language than living it. What more fun can it be than to live the language than by taking a tour in it, on Arabic heritage?

Touring the Nature Museum

Touring the Nature Museum

This is what 173 out of our 220 students of Arabic did over the past few weeks – taking part in tours of the Dean’s House at the Natural History Museum in the Talbiyeh neighborhood.

Or they heard a lecture by journalist and author Makbulah Nassar from the village of Arabeh in the north of Israel.

Speaking to Arabic classes

Speaking to Arabic classes

She spoke about the Arab woman in Israel from a journalist’s standpoint, as well as from a woman’s standpoint, to about 60 Arabic students.

Listening intently to the lecture

Listening intently to the lecture

Interested in learning Arabic for yourself? Registration for the 2017 – 2018 is already underway. But hurry! Places are filling fast! Click here for the registration forms (in Hebrew).

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

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Gearing Up for Jerusalemite Day

What is your Jerusalem? Who is your Jerusalemite?

This year May 23 and 24 are the days to think about Jerusalem and connect to it. This year, there are dozens and dozens of ways to do it.

Building on last year’s success of A Different Day in Jerusalem, this year we call it: Jerusalemite Day: A Day of the Other.

Jerusalemite Day: Day of the Other

Jerusalemite Day: Day of the Other

How do you want to connect to Jerusalem and its diversity? With tours of the Jewish-Arab seam line, the secular – Haredi seam line? Or Mount Zion, the only site that is holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians? Or Jerusalem according to asylum seekers? Commemorating those who perished in the treacherous journey from Ethiopia to Israel? Along the Jerusalem Railway Park or on the Light Rail? At a Kurdish hafla in the Katamonim or a parade on Azza St.?

Right now we have a list of some 70 events. And the list keeps getting longer and longer and longer. See here for the event on Facebook and here for the web site, which is constantly being updated.

Many thanks to the UJA-Federation of New York and the Jerusalem Foundation for their support of this program!

And here’s the entire list, updated as of 21.5.17. You can download an English list of events in PDF here:

Tuesday, May 23

15:30 – Hapoel Katamon Neighborhood League  – Year-End Girls Soccer tournament that will include 12 girls soccer teams in grades 4 – 6 from throughout Jerusalem including all sectors – religious, secular, Arab. At the Keshet Sports Field.

15:30 – From Zion Square to Sallah a-DinA Walking Tour of Jerusalem’s Urban Centers.’ A tour that examines connecting and conflict points between the Israeli and Palestinian centers of life in Jerusalem, guided by Eran Tzidkiyahu. Organized by the Ir Amim organization.

16:00  – Weaving – Macrame Workshop with Yaffi Ronen. At the Reading Station, Masryk St.

16:00 Jerusalem: An Ethnic Mosaic: Secular, Religious, Ultra-Orthodox, Arab. Presented by 4 female citizens of the city. Moderated by Daniel Goldman, Chairman of Gesher. Jerusalem Ramada Hotel.

17:00 – Tour of the Interfaith Music Conservatory with Father Alberto. We’ll meet at Damascus Gate and walk together to the conservatory that is within the St. Saviour monastery, which is adjacent to the New Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem.

17:45 Weaving – Macrame Workshop with Yaffi Ronen. At the Reading Station in Mekor Haim.

18:00 – 20:00  – Wandering around the House – A short play in which a Palestinian man and an Israeli woman choose to take an open place and claim it as their house. Come discover what happens afterwards, in a show that expresses the power dynamics of nationality and gender. This event is in English.

18:00 – Curator’s tour of a special exhibit at the Museum on the Seam. The exhibit seeks to examine secular Jewish artists and the influence of Jewish values on them and their art, at the same time looking outward at a new phenomenon of religious artists who draw inspiration from their beliefs and who engage it in a complex dialogue. The exhibit examines the connection between art and faith, both of which deal with the human acknowledgement of the revelation and the need to express it. Cost of the tour: 20 NIS. Pre-registration required.

19:00 – Bat Hur – voices and shadows echo the story of a daughter and mother who were trapped between the walls of Beit Hanson, Jerusalem’s leper colony. Two languages, two actresses, a choir and hidden Jerusalem history. Performance will take place at the Alliance Building.

19:00 – Screening of , “Turn Left at the End of the World,” organized by the Jerusalem Branch of Enosh, the Israeli Mental Health Association. The screening will be followed by a discussion about Jerusalem and welcoming the other. Discussion in Hebrew and English. Shalom Yehuda 29. This event will be held in English and in Hebrew.

19:30 – Martial Arts Advancing Peace – at the El Halev Center.

19:30 – Founder of “Stories on the Way” (Sipur al Haderech), Adv. David (Darsali) Avetta in an intimate discussion about his immigration to Israel, on ‘Yerusalem’ and about the story that an entire community is beginning to tell today. In cooperation with the Israel Association of Community Centers. We’ll meet in Diana Lipton’s house.

19:30 – The Mount Will Answer the Judgment: on Holiness and Sovereignty – The Forum for Regional Thinking invites you to the Researchers’ Community Lounge at the Alliance Building with 2 Jerusalem researchers-Tomer Persiko and Eran Tzidkiyahu, commemorating the 50th Jerusalem Day. We will discuss different perspectives, complimentary and opposing, from which we can look out on the Temple Mount / Al Aqsa.

20:00 – Ask for the Heart of Jerusalem, organized by Out for Change. In honor of Jerusalem Day, Out for Change will bring together two sectors that are intertwined with each other: Haredim and those who were formerly Haredi. We will try to bridge the gaps via a mind that seeks to know and a heart that seeks to listen. The interviewer: Pini Via, who grew up and was raised Haredi, and Mr. Benahu Tevila, a graduate of rabbinic and halakhic law studies, M.A. in Philosophy, Ministry of Education Supervisor for Haredi secondary schools, and an activist in Haredi society.

20:00 – Souls (Nefashot) – Coping through Art.  A special evening in which we’ll try to bridge the gap between the headlines and the stigmas about people with emotional disabilities and their abilities. A variety of performances will tell us about their experiences in special ways: original music, spoken word, stand-up comedy, open galleries, and more. At the Abraham Hostel.

20:00 – Heroes: Dance performance -Israel, Jerusalem and the ‘Others’ within It: Because Israeli-ness isn’t a melting pot – it is the Land of Israel in all its glory, which stretches out to all those who inhabit it, to the edges that don’t connect. The performance is by the Ka’et Ensemble and will take place in the C.A.T.A.M.O.N. studio in the Alliance Building. Cost: 30 NIS

20:30 – My Heart is in the East – Jerusalem in the Eyes of North African Liturgy. Jerusalem liturgy in Hebrew, Moroccan-Arabic and Matruz, by the Paytan Maimon Meny Cohen and a musical ensemble. Organized by Kehillot Sharot.

21:00 – Visions of the Gazan youth – An unofficial meeting with Sami, a freelance journalist and peace activist from Gaza. Join a discussion about the possibility for a better future and the missing dialogue between Israelis and Gazans. This event is in English.

21:00  – Holiness and Politics: Jerusalem of Three Religions – A panel by the Rossing Center for Education and Dialogue (Formerly JCRC) invites us to a workshop in which we’ll examine the character of none other than King David, who appears in holy writings of the three monotheistic religions. Through him, and through the Jerusalem sites that are associated with him (David’s Tomb, for example), we’ll learn about the holiness of Jerusalem in Christianity, Islam and Judaism, and we’ll attempt to understand the political connections behind that holiness.

21:00 – Bat Hur – voices and shadows echo the story of a daughter and mother who were trapped between the walls of Beit Hanson, Jerusalem’s leper colony. Two languages, two actresses, a choir and hidden Jerusalem history. Performance will take place at the Alliance Building.

21:00 – 02:00 – Ma’aleh Movie Marathon. Ma’ale School of Television, Film & the Arts invites the general public to enjoy a nighttime marathon of the best new graduate movies that are participating in film festival around Israel and the world. The marathon will include films that deal with and take place in Jerusalem, covering the entire spectrum of lifestyles. The movies will be screened throughout the school. Come to a virtual-cinematic tour of the Haredi neighborhood and synagogue communities, through the crowded streets of Nahlaot, the city center, and Talpiot, to the mysterious, hidden monasteries. 20 Shivtei Yisrael St.

Wednesday, May 24

8:00 – Tour of the Rahel Checkpoint – That’s How We Do Zionism, Tolerance and Human Rights – a special tour of the Rahel Checkpoint that connects between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, by the Blue&White Human Rights group. This is a rare opportunity to hear and see up close the reality at the checkpoints, to meet the people from the field and to discover how to combine Zionism and human rights. The tour is free but pre-registration is required.

9:00 – Status Quo in Jerusalem – Tour of Mount Zion – between holy sites, forgotten stories and a delicate status quo, monks, yeshiva students, artists and business owners live side by side. Let’s get to know the viewpoints of the residents and the visitors of Mount Zion, about the shared living there and about the delicate and fascinating cooperation that takes place today. During the tour we will meet with the deputy director of the Diaspora Yeshiva Ely Dan, and Father Daniel, a monk from the Dormition community. The tour is free but pre-registration is required.

9:00 – Jerusalem is Tiptoeing In – The Djanogly Visual Arts Centre is hosting the Max Rayne Hand in Hand School for Bilingual Education and invites the general public to take part in a unique event that is completely Jerusalemite art – a rich collection of works that weaves the new-old narrative of Jerusalem from its artists’ point of view. Moving through the space we will discover new corners and faces of Jerusalem. We will examine how tensions, feelings and people build yet another story of Jerusalem.

10:00 – Heterotopia in MusraraTour of the Art Trail (for men), of the Studio of Her Own project. Art in the public space in northern Musrara, the third wall. Two tours, one for men (at 10:00) and one for women (11:00), guided by Rabbi Aharon Kedem from the Breslev Hassidim, and Tzipi Mizrachi from the Studio of Her Own.

10:00 – Stories on the Way at the Sieff & Marks Community Center in Beit HaKerem. The group of volunteers of the Shalem Movement will meet with Eitan Penethon for an open discussion about the story of Israelis of Ethiopian descent, on ‘Yerusalem’, and on the possibility to create change in Israeli society.

10:00 – Stories on the Way Discussion Circles – The story of the Ethiopian-Israeli Aliyah, by the Olim themselves. The discussion circles will take place at Mount Herzl, right before the official ceremony that will take place at 11:00.

10:30 – I Saw a City: Jerusalem between Dream and Reality – Tour about Jerusalem in the National Library: We will meet original objects from the Six Day War, we will view the largest stained glass window in Israel, we will become acquainted with the ancient map collection of Jerusalem and we will visit the exhibit, “City of Dreams: Jerusalem from the Imagination’s View,” Jerusalem as seen in the imaginations of Jewish, Muslim and Christian artists.

11:00 – Heterotopia in MusraraTour of the Art Trail (for women), of the Studio of Her Own project. Art in the public space in northern Musrara, the third wall. Two tours, one for men (at 10:00) and one for women (11:00), guided by Rabbi Aharon Kedem from the Breslev Hassidim, and Tzipi Mizrachi from the Studio of Her Own.

11:00 – Official ceremony for Ethiopian Jews who perished in Sudan. The public is invited to become acquainted with a different story that is commemorated on Jerusalem Day. The ceremony will take place at Mount Herzl. There will be discussion circles, operated by Stories on the Way, on the immigration stories of Ethiopian Jews.

11:30 A special workshop on the secrets of mediation and self-defense. Participants will learn how to correctly handle any conflict through a proper balance of wisdom and listening and action. Operated by the Mosaica Center for Conflict Resolution and The Jerusalem School of Traditional JuJitsu and Self Defense.

12:00 – 16:00 – Tolerance Stop on the light rail line, operated by the Ruach Nachon pre-army preparatory program, in cooperation with the Citypass company that operates the light rail and the Jerusalem Municipality. The stop seeks to create a Jerusalem mosaic and increase tolerance at the Municipality light rail stop.

12:30 I Saw a City: Jerusalem between Dream and Reality – Tour about Jerusalem in the National Library: We will meet original objects from the Six Day War, we will view the largest stained glass window in Israel, we will become acquainted with the ancient map collection of Jerusalem and we will visit the exhibit, “City of Dreams: Jerusalem from the Imagination’s View,” Jerusalem as seen in the imaginations of Jewish, Muslim and Christian artists.

15:00 – Wall art for girls in the Art Shelter studio in the Mekor Baruch neighborhood, together with Solomon, the fantastic graffiti artist! Children (and adults) welcome.

15:30 – 18:30 – The Jerusalem March along the Jerusalem Railway Park, by the Yerushalmim Movement. Jerusalem communities march together and celebrate Jerusalem’s diversity. There will be 3 starting points:

            15:30 – Beneath the Baram Bridge, the long route

            16:00 – Gonenim Park, the general route

            17:15 – Oranim Junction, the Family March

            18:15 – Festive event at the First Station.

The march will be accompanied by Marsh Dondurma, Tahrir Eastern Bar and Kehillat Zion. Activities for children, music, balloons and a range of surprises will be distributed along the route!

16:00 – 21:00 Building Our Own Jerusalem with Lego – A building site for Jerusalemites from all ethnicities, religions and opinions. Building together a tolerant and inclusive Jerusalem from tens of thousands of Lego pieces. At the Davidka Light Rail Station. No Hebrew required.

16:00 – Street Beit Midrash on the Ben Yehudah Midrachov. A special session about tolerance and Jerusalem.

16:00 – Ascension Ceremony at the Church of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives. At 16:00 all the Christian churches will begin their ceremonies. At 16:45 the Catholic Franciscan evening service will begin. It is a Christian ceremony, please come dressed appropriately.

16:00 – Traditional Flower Parade organized by Tag Meir: Light instead of Terror. Let’s distribute flowers to the residents of the Old City.

16:00 – 23:00 – Katatmon’s Wisdom: Katamon Culture in Houses and in the Streets. An entire festival of Katamon-led activity, including neighborhood tolerance activities:

16:30 – 18:00 – “Here There Was…” a tour of the Katamonim neighborhood from the outlook of 3 women from different ethnic backgrounds. Starting from the gat of the Gonenim Park.

17:00 – Writing Workshop: Poetry from Recipes. Recipes from different ethnic groups are written as new Israeli poetry. The workshop will take place at the reading station on the Jerusalem Railway Park.

17:00 – The Parliament. Neighborhood residents from all cultures and ages are invited to the Butka Café to hold a neighborhood parliament, in which we talk about everything.

17:00 – 19:00 – Katamon Portrait. Neighborhood residents take pictures of themselves next to the Well-Baby Clinic.

17:30 – 19:30 – A Knit – A Space for Knitting. A simple space for knitting and learning how to knit, regardless of religion, creed or gender.

18:00 – Ethnic cooking workshops in residents’ homes. Learning about the dish as well as how to prepare Ingra with Abbebe and Kubbeh with Hannah.

18:00 – Kurdish Hafla – A Kurdish dance party with food.

18:00 – Meeting at the Beit Midrash – Asking for Peace of Jerusalem. The Matan women’s Beit Midrash opens its doors for joint learning for women from all backgrounds.

18:15 – Women’s Song: Vocal Creations as an Agent of Change. Vocal artist Faye Shapiro will tell about the “Rivers of Katamonim” project that she led with older women, together with young artists. It will meet at the Gonenim Community Center, and include vocal work and singing.

19:00 – Ethiopian Celebration – songs, dances, food, in the plaza in front of the minimarket on San Martin St.

19:30 – Choosing to Feel Well. Loneliness is a cross-cultural experience. We will hear about Alan’s project, which creates an inviting space for everyone to deal with loneliness together.

19:30 – Singing together songs from Israel and different ethnic groups. Organized by the Singing in the Garden initiative, in San Simon Park.

19:30 – 21:00 – Katamon Portrait 2 – Taking pictures of ourselves in San Simon.

17:00 – Wall art for boys in the Art Shelter studio in the Mekor Baruch neighborhood, together with Solomon, the fantastic graffiti artist! Children (and adults) welcome.

17:00 – 50 Years, 50 Faces – An opening festive event marking the documentary project of the Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem, commemorating 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem, presenting 50 personal stories of Jerusalem residents from all its corners, from the time directly after the 1967 war. It will include video clips, interviews, text and original pictures.

17:00 – Everything Private: Prayers, Stories and Staged Reading of ‘Everything Private’. A play based on meeting minutes of the Barashi synagogue’s board in Nahlaot. The minutes combine the holy with the everyday, and touch on practical details from the everyday life of the synagogue and community. It is spiced with light irony, and sometimes self-humor, yet it preserves the accuracy, honor and the reality of the time. The play has a contemporary and universal message about the unique drama and meaning of worlds that are disappearing, worlds that are being built, and colorful characters that are building them; and on longing and love. At the Museum of Italian Jewry.

17:30 – Black and White Jerusalem – A tour on the seam line between Haredi and non-Haredi neighborhoods to understand the Haredi sector, organized by the Tarbuth organization. We’ll meet in Davidka Square.

18:00 – Jerusalem for All Festival – with performances by Echo, Tito and Jaluk. There will be a stage for Jerusalemite performers. Kelly Halperin and Moshe Waldman will hold a panel on Jerusalem entrepreneurship. There will be stands selling art, art installations and a poetry slam and of course food and drink. The even strives to bring together different groups in the city, emphasizing the human and cultural diversity in Jerusalem. At the Alliance Building.

18:00 – Tour of Jerusalem as a City of Asylum: Jerusalem in the Eyes of the Asylum Seekers who Live There. A tour by the Jerusalem African Community Center.

18:45 – Believers – An evening of inter-religious prayer and listening circles, on listening and the Holy City, with Kehillat Zion, Marsh Dondurma, Tahrir Eastern Bar and the Yerushalmim Movement, and Arab and secular and Haredi Jewish leaders.

19:00 – New Haredim, the Formerly Religious, and All that Cholent. Journalist Mendy Grosman hosts Moshe Sheinfeld and Avi Tapilinsky at the Tmol Shilshom Café.

19:30 – Shfuyah B’Haloma (Sane in Her Dream) – A multi-aged, multicultural Jerusalemite panel on the occasion of the launch of Dr. Elan Ezrachi’s new book, Shfuyah B’Haloma. The panel will include: Ora Ahimeir, Keren Brunwasser, Eran Tzidkiyahu, Yossi Klein-Halevi.

19:30 – Screening of the movie, “The Seventh Day,” and discussion with Suleiman Hattib, founder of Combatants for Peace. Afterward we’ll dive into the sounds of Fuad Abi A-Nam and Friends.

19:30 – Meeting of Stories on the Way with Daressa Atchnepa – his emotional story of immigrating to Israel from Ethiopian. In the home of the Dahan family.

20:00 – Storytellers Evening on Jerusalem and Tolerance at the BeShutaf Cooperative. During the evening Jerusalemites will tell their stories: some sad, some happy, some emotional, some will leave you stunned. But all are real. Facilitated by Itamar Farhi.

20:30 – Beyond the Dark Mountains – a journey near home. We will commemorate 50 years since the Six Day War, which are also 50 years of shared living between Jerusalem residents from eastern and western parts of the city. Eliezer Ya’ari will take us on a journey to the people who live in East Jerusalem, part of the capital of Israel, and will enlighten us about their thoughts and dreams, on shared living in the city, on the daily reality, and on the future. We will meet at the Jerusalem Cinematheque.

21:00 – Jibberishalem – Improvising the language, by JLMprov. An interactive improvisational performance on Jerusalem and its characters. We will meet in Alliance Building. No Hebrew required.

21:00 – Bat Hur. Voices and shadows echo the story of a daughter and mother who were trapped between the walls of Beit Hanson, Jerusalem’s leper colony. Two languages, two actresses, a choir and hidden Jerusalem history. Performance will take place in the Alliance Building.

21:00 – Yachas Ham at Birman. A special performance of the Yachas Ham band, paying tribute to Bob Dylan’s birthday (and Shakespeare’s). Let’s hear about tolerance as expressed in Bob Dylan’s songs.

All Day – Teachers Lounge project of “This is Jerusalem.” An exhibition of a year-long program that brought together Jewish and Arab educators. The exhibition will be shown at the First Station.

All Day – Jerusalem Tolerance Cookie Decorating! International competition of cookie artists who decorated cookies to emphasize tolerance in Jerusalem. Organized by Jerusalem Cake Design.

Events Not Open to the General Public

Special activities to advance tolerance at the Dror High School (religious).

Students from the Tag Meir student organization light up Jerusalem – Students will visit high schools throughout Jerusalem and will operate workshops on tolerance in Jerusalem.

The Scouts – all participants in the scouts will have special activities for Jerusalem Day, focusing on Jerusalem, its complexity, its uniqueness and its place in Israeli society.

Workshop by the Center for Middle Eastern Music for students for the Keshet School.

An Accessible City: Photography exhibit. The school at the ALYN Rehabilitative Hospital will hold a party celebrating Jerusalem’s many cultures. The program: An Accessible City – a photography exhibit. Songs about Jerusalem in Hebrew and Arabic and a competition identifying places in Jerusalem. The workshop is closed to the public but the exhibit will be open.

Meeting for all group coordinators from the Interfaith Encounter Association to meet each other.

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The Writing is (not) on the Wall

It’s not nice to wake up during the Passover holiday to ugly graffiti:

Hate graffiti on the Railway Park in southern Jerusalem

Hate graffiti on the Railway Park in southern Jerusalem

Especially if it’s racist graffiti that says, ““Arabs, go home,” and “We want revenge.” It also had “Kahane was right,” Rabbi Meir Kahane, the founder of the outlawed Kach movement that called to expel Arabs from Israel and the Palestinian territories, who was assassinated in Manhattan in 2012.

Fortunately, a group of activists, part of our network of activists for tolerance that include residents, city council members and the Municipality, were quick to act. They called the Municipal hotline, and within a few hours the graffiti was cleaned.

Working hard to blot out racism

Working hard to blot out racism

But they didn’t stop there. They replaced the graffiti with other signs, full of love and acceptance.

We love our neighbors, in Hebrew

We love our neighbors, in Hebrew

Here’s an independent post of what happened. The incident was even reported in both the English and Hebrew YNET web sites, which are associated with the most widely read national daily newspaper, Yediot Acharonot.

Hebrew article in Yediot Acharonot

Hebrew article in Yediot Acharonot national newspaper

We were doubly interested in this process, since we’ve been helping residents and activists along the Railway Park initiate community-building activities along the park almost since its opening. Coupled with this cooperative work to promote tolerance, we’re pretty proud of this network of activists, which acted quickly, independently, and effectively, with our support and encouragement.

Sign initiators and helpers - best way to spend a school holiday

Sign initiators and helpers – best way to spend a school holiday

Even Yael Freidson, the Ynet reporter who first reported the racist graffiti, tweeted, when she saw the final result, with a hashtag that says “these are things that make me happy”. Indeed, the tolerance activists of Jerusalem managed to make lemonade out of lemons. They demonstrated that Jerusalem has an efficient and sustainable network of tolerance!

Of course, the incident was posted on our Jerusalem Tolerance Facebook page:

Many thanks to the UJA-Federation of New York for its support of our efforts both with residents along the Railway Park and to promote tolerance throughout Jerusalem. Many thanks also go to the Jerusalem Foundation for their support of our work.

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The Little Prince – Dutifully Making Sure Jerusalem is Clean

“It’s an issue of discipline,” the little prince explained afterward. “After we finish the morning washing up, we must dutifully make sure that the planet is clean.”

This passage comes from The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Svetlana Fedotenko, founder of the Gonenim Music Center and a former participant in our leadership training seminar, who died last year, had been inspired by this passage, and dreamt for a long time to create a project that will put residents in charge of keeping our streets clean. (Click here for more about Svetlana).

We, too, were inspired by Svetlana’s dream, and last week we took some steps to make that dream come true.

Meeting for the Little Prince

Meeting for the Little Prince

We have seen how, of all subjects, garbage can be a unifying factor. We saw it when our MiniActive project banded together to fight for improved sanitation in East Jerusalem. We’ve seen it in the French Hill  – Issawiya area, where Israeli and Palestinian residents banded together to successfully fight the placement of a landfill in their backyards. We saw in city hall, how the one issue that brought secular and Haredi city council members together was the subject of garbage collection. (Below is more information about the French Hill – Issawiya situation)

We had the first organizing meeting last week. More than 25 active residents and community leaders – astoundingly, 1/3 Arab, 1/3 Haredi and 1/3 secular/religious (Don’t remember a time when that EVER happened on its own!) – met at the JICC. We heard about the current awful situation – in collection, in enforcement, in recycling, in teaching toward cleanliness and in teaching toward reduction of waste. We heard about fantastic initiatives that are already taking place, and concluded that such initiatives, together with mutual learning and assistance, can really change the city.

Another picture

Another picture

The group is already beginning to act, and we believe that in another month we’ll be able to invite anyone for whom this subject is close to his heart – residents, professional, community center, educational framework, environmental groups, NGO’s – to join this initiatives. In honor of Svetlana, we’re calling the program The Little Prince.

We’ll be waiting for you, after the morning washing up…

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2016 – What a Year!

As we jump head-first into 2017, we wanted to take a minute to reflect on 2016, and what a year it’s been! Overall, a year of unprecedented growth and development, and we can’t wait to get started in 2017. Here are some highlights:

Cultural Competence

  • The Jerusalem as a Culturally Competent City conference in May 2016, organized jointly by the JICC and the Jerusalem Foundation as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations, was a turning point for the JICC. Attended by hundreds of professionals, from Jerusalem and throughout Israel, the conference presented strides that have been made over the past 10 years, and set the stage for the next step of meeting diverse residents’ diverse needs, in all areas of life.
  • Continued work in the health care system, in Jerusalem and as a model throughout Israel, training in-house coordinators and facilitators to increase sustainability and adaptability within individual institutions. For the first time, work included a national network of hospitals and clinics.
  • Expansive work in the Israel Police Force, reaching most police stations and present and future commanding officials, and continuing to expand training in 2017.
  • Groundbreaking work with the National Insurance Institute (NII), East Jerusalem branch, the first NII branch in the country to undergo a process of cultural competence.
  • In the Jerusalem Municipality, the entire Community Services Administration, which includes welfare, public health, immigrant absorption, and more, is undergoing training, as well as the Auditor’s Office which will be able to look at the entire Municipality’s operations through the prism of cultural competency and sensitivity.
  • Santé Israël, the first web site to make Israel’s health care system accessible to French speakers, celebrated its first birthday. 
Ms. Uzma Shakir, Keynote Speaker

Ms. Uzma Shakir, Keynote Speaker, Jerusalem as a Culturally Competent City conference

Paramedical Professionals

Making healthcare practitioner exams accessible to Arab residents of east Jerusalem

2016 was an important year for us to take stock of the past four years of this program. Our conclusions show that:

  • The number of certified Arab paramedical professionals in East Jerusalem has grown significantly.
  • The program has enabled the JICC to more clearly map the situation of different paramedical professions in east Jerusalem, contributing to the knowledge of training in the Jerusalem area.
  • The awareness both among Palestinian institutes of higher education and health care institutions in east Jerusalem as well as Israeli Ministry of Health has been raised significantly.
  • A large window of opportunity for Arab women paramedical professionals to improve economic opportunities has been opened.

Nurses studying to pass their Israeli certification examinations

Talking Coexistence – Arabic Language Instruction

Both 2015 – 2016 and 2016 – 2017 broke enrollment records. In 2015-16 there were 180 students in 12 classes, over 5 levels. In 2016-2017, there are 240 students in 16 classes, also over 5 levels. We also held several cultural evenings to enrich students’ understanding of Arabic culture. Here’s a short video about the program:

Atta’a Assistance Center for the Rights of East Jerusalem Residents

The Atta’a Center has been in existence since 2004, and in 2015 it came under the aegis of the JICC. In 2016 we have seen:

  • 70% growth in number of requests
  • Ballooning of its Facebook page to over 7,100 ‘likes,’ and launching of its web site.
  • Publication of a widely-referenced booklet on the Ministry of Interior
  • Expansion of network of partners in action, both from NGO’s and advocacy groups as well as municipal and government agencies.

Atta’a Presenting workshops

MiniActive for Arab Residents of East Jerusalem

  • For the first time ever, MiniActive activities led to a change in policy. After months of campaigning, MiniActive led the way toward the addition of 3 million NIS to the annual municipal sanitation budget for east Jerusalem, and 16 million NIS for the purchase of additional equipment for sanitation. As a result of this work, the entire Municipality is focusing their attention on garbage collection throughout
  • In January 2016, MiniActive organized the first ever Arabic language Horticulture Therapy course in Jerusalem for special education teachers, in cooperation with the David Yellin Academic College of Education.
  • Bus stops in entire neighborhoods were repaired and replaced, thanks to MiniActive.
  • 210 women – including 50 youth – are studying Hebrew through a volunteer NGO to improve the effectivity of their activism. This is a record-breaking number, which broke last year’s record of 150 women.
  • In MiniActive Youth for the Environment, teenage girls learn leadership skills while participating in major environment-improving public art and other projects in neighborhoods throughout east Jerusalem.
  • MiniActive became a model for international work, hosting a delegation that works with the Roma population in the Czech Republic in November 2016.

Take a look at MiniActive’s own year in review. It’s pretty easy to understand, even if you don’t know Arabic:

Emergency Readiness Networks

In 2016 we expanded the network to include 14 communities throughout Jerusalem. In addition to training new volunteers, the program included training of existing networks to maintain ability to respond and increase sustainability.

Planning on map

Planning strategy on map

Multicultural Participatory Democracy

In 2016 we mentored community center staffs in Gilo, Kiryat Menachem, Givat Messuah, Baka’a and south Talpiot. For the first time, residents – especially the Ethiopian community in Kiryat Menachem and the highly diverse community of south Talpiot –felt that they were able to influence issues that affected their everyday lives. Training included using Facebook as a community-building tool key to increasing residents’ engagement in community processes.

Writing and submitting objections

Writing and submitting objections in Gilo

Promoting Tolerance in the Public Sphere

Since the summer of 2014 the JICC have been at the forefront of promoting tolerance in Jerusalem. 2016 accomplishments include:

  • A Different Day in Jerusalem celebrated Jerusalem’s diversity through 50 coordinated events, affecting tens of thousands of people on Jerusalem Day. It was the first time such a broad effort has been made to celebrate Jerusalem’s diversity.
  • JICC-mentored Speaking in the Square and other tolerance initiatives that came in their wake led to the redesigning of Zion Square, to be called Tolerance Square. The initiative’s Effective Dialogue methodology spread, and is now being presented in national frameworks.
  • 0202-Points of View from Jerusalem are now liked by nearly 80,000 people and reach some 150,000 people weekly on Facebook and the Internet. The network now includes pages that translate from Arabic to Hebrew, from Arabic to English and one which brings news from the Ultra-Orthodox world to the awareness of the general population.
  • The JICC was asked to be one of the leading organizations in the Coalition of Civil Society Organizations to Promote Tolerance, formed by the Center for Young Adults and the Municipality’s Young Authority.
  • The JICC is continuing to develop Tolerance Network Teams (TNT’s), a series of neighborhood-based and theme-based grassroots initiatives that seek to advance tolerance in Jerusalem.
Elhanan Miller Haaretz article

Haaretz article about A Different Day in Jerusalem

Window to Mount Zion

Since October 2015, Window to Mount Zion has bridged inter-religious and inter-community gaps that have festered between Jewish, Christian and Muslim groups for centuries. As a result of its activity over the past year:

  • In unheard-of cooperation, religious Jewish and Christian groups have issued joint statements condemning hate crimes on Mount Zion.
  • Christian ceremonies, which in the past have caused inter-religious tension, proceeded without incident.
  • The celebration of Christian and Jewish holidays that coincided simultaneously, which in the past had been the source of conflict and tension, also proceeded smoothly.
Window to Mount Zion volunteers

Window to Mount Zion volunteers

Asylum Seekers

The JICC, together with the Jerusalem Municipality, sponsor the only paid public servant in Israel to help asylum seekers, outside of Tel Aviv. We are also part of a consortium of organizations and agencies that seek to meet the needs of asylum seekers living in the city.

Tour of Nahlaot neighborhood

Families of asylum seekers on tour of Nahlaot neighborhood

Thank You!

Many many thanks go out to our partners in action and our donors. You can read about our activities in more detail either by clicking on the hyperlinks above, or by clicking here.

Looking forward to making 2017 even better!

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