Palestinians/Arabs

Window to Mount Zion – Who Are the People in Our Neighborhood?

We believe that our offices sit in one of the most interesting neighborhoods in Jerusalem – Mount Zion. Mount Zion includes David’s Tomb (the only place in the world that is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims), the Diaspora Yeshiva, the Dormition Abbey, historic Muslim, Christian and Jewish cemeteries, and much more.

When Window to Mount Zion began two years ago we started a new tradition, an annual social gathering for all residents. This year, we – representatives of all institutions and organizations that live and work on Mount Zion – did something even more unusual – we took a tour of a number of different hidden gems that the ‘neighborhood’ has to offer. This enabled residents to get to know their neighbors – and neighborhood – just a little better.

The tour started in the Chamber of the Holocaust, which is operated by the Diaspora Yeshiva. This was one of the first places established to commemorate the Holocaust, yet, for many, it was the first time they had been. It was a somber yet fascinating experience.

In the Chamber of the Holocaust

In the Chamber of the Holocaust

From there we moved on to the complex of David’s Tomb and the Room of the Last Supper (Cenacle). There, we heard the site director talk about efforts to improve maintenance at the site. We saw the new setting to place candles and noticed the improved cleanliness of the site. From the police station at David’s Tomb the community police officer spoke about the cultural competency training that we provided for the entire David Precinct (that is responsible for the Old City and Mount Zion), and how the work on Mount Zion served as a model for action.

On the roof of David's Tomb

On the roof of David’s Tomb

We enjoyed the view from the roof of the David’s Tomb complex, and were able to see its environs, and enjoy Jerusalem’s fresh, mountain air. The head of the Ad Cenaculum monastery spoke briefly about the monastery and its long history.

From the roof we then descended via a hidden, back exit, which led to two green gates and two fabulous gardens. One belongs to the Dormition Abbey and the other to the Beit Yosef complex. Both are actually associated with the Dormition Abbey. Their representative explained that in the past it had been one garden. During the years 1948 – 1967, when Jerusalem was divided but Mount Zion was an Israeli enclave surrounded by no-man’s land, the Dormition Abbey allowed the State of Israel to use the access path to the garden in order to access Mount Zion. This is the path that  splits the garden today.

On Mount Zion, even the garden paths are historic

On Mount Zion, even the garden paths are historic

We visited the well-kept gardens and heard more about the Franciscan community in Jerusalem.

The visit ended with dinner and discussions in our own beautiful garden, underneath one of the oldest mulberry trees in Jerusalem. What a wonderful way to end an evening, discussing ideas and thoughts about the diverse and varied communities who live on Mount Zion.

Here’s the link to the Facebook post (in Hebrew):

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Wisdom of Experience in Cultural Competency

After 10 years trailblazing the area of Cultural Competency we and our partners in action have garnered a broad spectrum of experience in a wide variety of areas. Throughout the country, there are many people who have developed expertise in different aspects of cultural competency, in different disciplines. They’ve dealt with countless difficulties and are proud of impressive achievements. We’ve all come a long way. After 10 years, we and our partners in action are excited to share some key aspects of Cultural Competency in Israel, and are taking a moment to reflect on the journey of the last decade.

We’ve called this reflection “Wisdom of Experience” newsletters. They detail different issues in Cultural Competency that we’ve dealt with. Each 3-5 page description includes a page introduction about the topic, plus a detailed description of the subject, written by our partners in the field.

Rabbi as a Hospital Consultant

Rabbi as a Hospital Consultant

Thus far we’ve written about (in Hebrew):

Rabbi as a Hospital Consultant (for matters concerning the Ultra-Orthodox population)

In Your Language – Language Accessibility at Hadassah Medical Centers

Assimilating Use of a Telephone Interpreting Hotline

Training at the Western Galilee Medical Center

We’ll continue publishing these newsletters monthly. Other subjects soon to be published include our Haifa-based round table with Haredim and the Maccabi HMO, Cultural Competency in Mental Health, making health services accessible to French-speaking olim, and more.

These newsletters join our series about multi-cultural and religious holidays, that we continue to revise in 2017 (on our Hebrew publications web page).

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for their continued partnership and support of cultural competency over the past decade!

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Continuing Support for Jerusalem Medical Interpreters at Shaare Zedek

It’s always nice to be praised by someone else. This time, it was by the Sha’are Zedek Medical Center’s social media team, after our Dr. Michal Schuster led a meeting for Jerusalem-based medical interpreters.

Dr. Michal Schuster, leading the workshop

Dr. Michal Schuster, leading the workshop

Here’s their Facebook post:

 

The meeting was held on July 19, for more than 20 medical interpreters. Most were from Sha’are Zedek, and others came from Hadassah Mt. Scopus and Ein Kerem hospitals, ALYN Rehabilitative Hospital, as well as from the Tene Briut organization. The first part of the meeting dealt with the role of medical interpreters in bridging cultural as well as linguistic gaps. In their training the medical interpreters had studied mainly how to translate medical terms from one language to another; the concept of bridging between cultures was not focused on. Michal raised several examples in which medical interpreters were faced with the need to bridge cultural gaps, and they discussed how to approach these differences. This discussion was important for the interpreters, since previously many had focused mainly on language translation, and the concept of cultural bridging, although an important intuitive aspect of medical interpretation, had not received as much attention. It was now brought front and center.

Afterward, participants split up into groups according to mother tongue. Each group discussed specific issues pertaining to medical interpretation in that language.

Thanks to Sha’are Zedek for the mention! And of course, many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for their continued partnership in our Cultural Competency efforts throughout the past decade and into the future!

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Palestinian Municipal Social Workers Learning Hebrew

We’ve told you here and here the importance of learning the ‘other’s’ language. Hebrew-speakers learning Arabic, Arabic-speakers learning Hebrew. Our MiniActive volunteers have been studying Hebrew for the past two years, and haven’t stopped singing the praises of the course.

Studying Hebrew with Medabrot Ivrit (illustration)

Studying Hebrew with Medabrot Ivrit (illustration)

Given this success, answering a request from Palestinian social workers, from different branches of the municipal welfare office in East Jerusalem, to offer courses in Hebrew. These courses are important for them professionally in their interactions with their colleagues and the overall welfare system. Like the courses for the MiniActive women, these courses were also given by the Medabrot Ivrit (Speaking Hebrew) volunteer-based group.

Thirty-four women participated in 2 courses, 2 levels of Hebrew. The women met for 3 hours each time, for 28 meetings. They ran from 9 March to 6 July.

There are a number of success stories from this course. One social worker, who’s been working in the municipal system for 10 years, told her class how she was able to write a report in Hebrew by herself for the first time. This is one example of how these classes are enabling Palestinian women – especially professionals – to be more independent, and to be able to communicate better and more effectively with the Hebrew-speaking system. It is part of our efforts to make Jerusalem culturally competent – enabling all populations to better access – and demand when necessary – the rights that are guaranteed them by law.

The Jerusalem Foundation was a full partner to this effort, in connecting, designing, and eventually in providing the required funds.

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MiniActive – A Tale of Two (Former Makeshift) Garbage Dumps

They were smelly times, and they were actually quite dangerous times. Garbage overflowed in huge garbage receptacles and in empty lots throughout East Jerusalem, but they were rarely emptied.  Garbage kept piling up, especially in Kufr Aqeb, and it became a public health hazard. Sometimes, residents burned the trash, just to get rid of it. But that, too, was a public safety and health hazard.

A really horrible sight

A really horrible sight

Until one day, after MiniActive’s almost 2-year ‘We Won’t Live in Filth!‘ campaign, municipal trucks came and emptied the receptacle. And many were happy – for a minute.

 

Until they saw what the garbage trucks had left behind…….A whole lot of garbage, probably enough to fill another truck. And then it became a public health AND safety hazard, as residents started to burn the garbage in an attempt to get rid of it.

 

We called the attention of this ugly sight to city council members and a deputy mayor through the 0202-A View from East Jerusalem Facebook page, and they promised to take care of it. Indeed, a few days later, it was cleared up. Here’s the tractor that was brought in:

Tractors worked hard to clean up

Tractors worked hard to clean up

Congratulations MiniActive! Good job 0202! Here’s the post from the 0202 English page summing up the incident:

 

And in a second achievement, another public health hazard was cleared away this past week in Wadi Joz, also the result of both MiniActive’s campaign. Our director, Dr. Hagai Agmon-Snir, told the back story in a Facebook post:

Some time 20 years ago, someone did work with large sewer pipes in Wadi Joz in East Jerusalem. It might have been the East Jerusalem Development Corporation, it might have been the Gichon (or what was before the Gichon, can’t remember exactly when the Gichon was formed). The contractor, who did the public works, just left broken or extra pipes, each of them 2 meters in diameter, in an empty field, and left, together with more building waste from work that had been done. There was no oversight on him.

An empty field with building waste is a great way to attract more building waste, or just plain waste, isn’t it kind of like a garbage can? And in this way, the situation in this field kept getting worse and worse, and the field became a serious safety and health hazard.

Three years ago, some residents had had enough and began to ask that the field be cleaned up. It’s private land, but there’s no doubt that most of the waste was left there from public works. At one point, our MiniActive volunteers in the area took it upon themselves to get the field cleaned up. They turned to the Gichon, who were very polite and explained that it wasn’t them, it was the East Jerusalem Development Corporation. The East Jerusalem Development Corporation said that they have no records from 20 years ago….After the MiniActive volunteers met with everyone, they sat down and wrote a letter to the Jerusalem Municipality, which said something to the effect of, “Look – we weren’t able to find out who’s directly responsible, but at the end of the day it’s Jerusalem – please take responsibility as the Municipality. Research, examine, demand – whatever you think fit – the main thing is that this hazard – which is also a serious safety hazard – is taken care of.”

The Municipality – from the regional cluster director to the Director General’s office – worked very hard to find solutions. And on July 12, there suddenly appeared heavy equipment that came to take the building waste away.

The area, after cleanup

The area, after cleanup

Hats off to MiniActive for another impressive achievement! Hats off to the Jerusalem Municipality for taking responsibility. Here’s a video of the newly-cleaned area:

 

Here’s Hagai’s Facebook post (in Hebrew):

 

And here’s the explanation of the event that was posted on 0202-A View from East Jerusalem:

 

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

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2017-07-30T12:26:59+00:00 July 15th, 2017|Blog, Effective Activism, MiniActive, Palestinians/Arabs|

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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Why a Community Cleanup Operation is Such a Big Deal

Community clean up operations are always good – they show citizen involvement, a desire for the resident-on-the-street to make a noticeable different in his or her immediate surroundings, more pleasant environment. But sometimes, they represent much, much more.

Cleaning up, repairing stairs in Ras al-Amud

Cleaning up, repairing stairs in Ras al-Amud

The community clean-up that took place in Ras al-Amud in mid-May by students of the Boys Comprehensive Junior  / Senior High School, is one of those cases. For the first time, this community clean-up operation was organized and overseen by a newly-trained Parents Association.

Continuing to work

Continuing to work

Over the past year, we’ve been working, steadily and surely, with Parents Associations in Ras al-Amud and Silwan, as well as in Sur Baher. This work has included training on the rights and obligations of the Parents Association, on how to hold meetings and elect members, on potential work directions, and more. Slowly but surely, Parents Associations have been formed in 5-6 individual schools, plus central Parents Associations in each of the neighborhoods to coordinate efforts. Successes include:

  1. Organizing a graduation ceremony at a school in Ras al-Amud after the principal decided not to organize one.
  2. Organizing the community clean-up operation seen above
The stairs after. Well done!

The stairs after. Well done!

After the Ramadan holiday, all Parents Associations are already gearing up for the upcoming school year, creating lists of repairs that need to be made, setting out potential activities that can be organized and implemented, and more. May this be the beginning of fruitful partnership of the parents in East Jerusalem in their children’s education.

Many thanks to the Leichtag Foundation for its support of this program.

 

 

 

 

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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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MiniActive Women Leading Ramadan Food Drive

MiniActive never stops. Not even for the month-long Ramadan holiday. During this time, which commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad, many Muslims fast during the day and eat before dawn and after sunset. It is considered a festive month, so although Muslims do not eat during the day, much time, effort and food are invested in preparing the nightly evening meals, (or Iftar).

Food ready to be divided up

Food ready to be divided up as part of a MiniActive food distribution project

Given the severe socio-economic standing of most Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem – some 80% live beneath the poverty line – the month of Ramadan can often be a difficult financial burden. In response to this difficulty, the MiniActive network ran a Ramadan food drive for 100 needy families during the first week of June. MiniActive women not only led the drive, they were the ones who donated and collected the foodstuffs. Afterward, the MiniActive staff prepared and distributed the packages.

Baked goods waiting to be distributed

Baked goods waiting to be distributed

Foodstuffs were distributed through baskets and re-usable shopping bags. Packages included staples such as flour, salt, sugar, rice and oil and pasta, canned goods as well as other goodies, that will make their Iftar meals festive occasions.

Food packages ready to go

Food packages ready to go

Ramadan Kareem!

Here’s 0202’s English translation of the original Facebook post:

And here’s the original Facebook post in Arabic:

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

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MiniActive – Continuing to Go International

Do you know where Brno is? Did you know that Brno is the second largest city in the Czech Republic (pop. 380,000) with a considerable population of Roma (est. 15,000 – 17,000), most of whom live in abject poverty?

City of Brno

City of Brno

We reported here about a delegation from an organization from Brno, Czech Republic, who work with the Roma (gypsy) population there, who came to Jerusalem to learn about MiniActive.

In April, Intisar, director of the MiniActive program, and Daud, director of the Atta’a Center, traveled to Brno to provide workshops and hands-on learning to representatives of the IQ Roma organization, one of the largest organizations that works with the Roma population in Brno.

The IQ Roma building in Brno

The IQ Roma building in Brno

It was quite an intensive, 3-day trip. The IQ Roma organization has been working with the Brno Municipality for the past 12 years, includes a rights department, a welfare department and a child care / development center. Intisar  met with professionals, activists and residents. She learned about the Roma population through these meetings, as well as through a trip to the Museum of Romani Culture, which is housed in Brno. She toured the houses and apartment buildings where the Roma population lives (mainly public housing). She answered questions – lots of questions – about the process of the MiniActive program, about challenges, personal and professional, that she encountered, about achievements that they’ve accomplished.

Meeting with residents

Meeting with residents

Through these visits, Intisar learned about the similarities and differences between the Roma population of Brno and the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem. They both feel that they are suffering both because of the government actions (or lack thereof) and because of the actions of individuals in their own communities. Both populations have high rates of poverty. However, in contrast to the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem, the Roma population does not have a sense of belonging to Brno or the Czech Republic, nor is education for their children a high priority.

Presenting MiniActive

Presenting MiniActive

The latter part of her visit was dedicated to exploring if and how principles learned through MiniActive can be applied in Brno. This included meetings with the person in charge of dealing with the Roma population in Brno and his staff, none of whom were Roma themselves. One of the first recommendations (that was accepted) was to hire a member of the Roma community, to be able to better understand their needs on the ground.

Presenting even in IQ Roma's in-house cafe

Presenting even in IQ Roma’s in-house cafe

Intisar also became part of municipal policy planning for the Roma community. Most of the Roma receive welfare payments, but are required to do 20 monthly hours of community service in order to qualify. She, together with the municipal staff, began planning a program that would include cleaning public areas as part of the required community service. It is hoped that by starting with small steps and the satisfaction of seeing results quickly, will spurn further action and hope for the future.

Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for their continued support of the MiniActive and the Atta’a Center programs.

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