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Building Bridges : Chapter 3 - The Experiential Approach

Though many "experiential" programs involve encounters, the emphasis is less on dialogue than action, particularly joint activities that highlight the participants' similarities rather than their differences. By engaging in activities of mutual interest, coexistence is promoted without ever discussing the concept.

Beit Shmuel's Jewish-Arab Coexistence Project brings adults with a common interest in studying language together for extracurricular activities like cultural evenings and tours.

Beit Hagefen's programs are explicitly designed to facilitate social and cultural encounters between Jews and Arabs of all ages.

Youth movements are very popular in Israel. Re'ut Sadaka is one that encourages coexistence through year-long encounters and programs. Unlike school-based programs, Re'ut's philosophy is to distinguish its activities from compulsory studies.

The Leo Baeck Education Center runs a number of programs that promote coexistence. These include a summer camp, kindergarten and photography class. It also runs a community center that welcomes all groups.

Interns from all over the world are paired and live and work in a Jewish and/or Arab city for a period of up to two years through Interns for Peace. The participation of Jews and Arabs in joint community activities breaks down stereotypes and builds trust among people of different political and cultural backgrounds.

For decades, people of all faiths have gone to the International YMCA in Jerusalem to participate in social, cultural and sporting activities. The YMCA has also developed more formal programs for promoting coexistence, notably an integrated nursery school/kindergarten and a youth leadership program for teens.

One unique approach to promoting coexistence is the investigation and reenactment of the practices of ancient civilizations at the Museum of Archaeology at Kibbutz Ein Dor. By familiarizing themselves with the region's ancient culture, participants learn to reexamine their own lifestyles and customs.

SHEMESH offers everything from adult education courses to leadership training to an integrated choir as part of its program to promote coexistence in the Galilee.

The effort to promote coexistence in Israel is not limited to the elites or self-selected groups interested in bettering relations with their neighbors. Even children at-risk, whose primary concerns are poverty, abuse, malnutrition and neglect, are brought together in the interest of coexistence. The Neighborhood Home run by Friendship's Way, is a daily, after-school enrichment program for fifty Jewish and Arab children of families at high risk.

David Yellin Teachers College sponsors a training program, Education for Peace and Coexistence, which aims to teach — and teach educators how to teach — pluralism, tolerance, humanism and democracy, and to further mutual understanding, respect and peace between Jews and Arabs in Israel. Students from the school study the academic aspects and then apply them in Jerusalem-area nursery and elementary schools.

Another of the more unusual approaches to promoting coexistence is the Traditional Creativity in the Schools Project developed by the Centre for Creativity in Education and Cultural Heritage. This is a three-year program for 5th through 7th graders from Jewish and Arab schools in Ramle and Jerusalem. Throughout the year, students examine their own cultural environment and folklore, collecting information from parents and grandparents. The aim is for children to learn more about their own folklore and about the culture of the various other ethnic and religious groups. Teachers, parents and grandparents participate and serve as role models of coexistence and multi-culturalism.

Keshet is a JDC-Israel project to train community and social workers to help immigrants, mainly Ethiopians, integrate into Israeli society. The program is based on the experience that active intervention is needed to aid integration.

Jewish-Arab Coexistence Project


David Ariel-Yoel
Beit Shmuel
6 Shama St.
Jerusalem 94101
Tel. 2-620-3461


To establish opportunities for contact and the development of mutual understanding between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs.

To teach Arabic or Hebrew language skills to each respective group.

To provide information and promote understanding regarding each other's social, cultural and religious patterns.

To create shared learning activities for Jews and Arabs that encourage personal contact and the establishment of interpersonal relationships.

To develop a format for inter-ethnic and inter-cultural social, cultural and economic activities.

Target Population:

Professional adults in the Jerusalem area

Program and Activities:

Beit Shmuel is the Education-Cultural Center of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. It was established in 1987 as a community center designed to serve the primarily secular Israeli public. As a result of the growing Jewish-Palestinian conflict in Israel in general, and in Jerusalem in particular, increasing effort at Beit Shmuel has been devoted toward fulfilling a sacred Jewish mandate: "Seek Peace and Pursue It" (Psalms 34:15), which means to pursue opportunities to overcome one's fear and distrust of the "other" (or in stronger language, the "enemy"). Tangibly, this means to break down the walls that prevent human contact, and to build up mutual understanding and basic knowledge about whom this "other" really is.

Beit Shmuel is dedicated to reducing tensions between Jews and Arabs by conducting programs that promote mutual contact, awareness and tolerance. Beit Shmuel relates the Jewish-Palestinian problem in a humanistic, religious-cultural manner, rather than just politically.

The Jewish-Arab Coexistence Project has two components. The first is the Language Training Program, which includes Hebrew and Arabic tracks. Courses meet two to three times a week for three hours in the evenings. Those studying Hebrew are mostly Palestinian business people who must command a sufficiently high level of Hebrew language skills to engage fully in their field within the larger Israeli context. Studying Arabic are Israelis whose professions fall primarily within the fields of civil service, social work, business, law and finance, and who require Arabic language skills.

The objectives of the classes are far broader than "mere" language acquisition. Also important — and meant to be transmitted through the language courses — is the understanding of another ethnic group's religious, historical, cultural and social foundations. Language instructors are selected on the basis of their pedagogic skills and their ability to represent, in an engaging and interesting manner, the fundamental ethos of the ethnic group behind the language.

Beit Shmuel is especially well-suited to meet the needs of this project because it is situated at the meeting point of western and eastern Jerusalem (prior to the 1967 Six-Day War, it was considered no-man's land between Israel and the Jordanian-controlled Old City). Arabs consider Beit Shmuel a "neutral" environment because it is a non-governmental entity.

Two semesters of Hebrew courses were offered in 1995 as part of the Jewish-Arab Coexistence Project. The language acquisition stage is intended to prepare both Jews and Arabs for the personal encounter. This part of the program offers a number of joint field excursions and cultural activities. Participation is voluntary, though each encounter is generally attended by roughly the same number of Jews and Arabs. The nature of the field excursions is such that Jews and Arabs travel together to various parts of Israel to meet with a third ethnic group that is somewhat unfamiliar to both. These ethnic groups include Golan Druze and Negev Bedouin. The excursions include bus travel, outdoor activities, site tours, the ethnic meetings and presentations with question and answer periods. Most Arabs have never traveled around Israel or gone to places like the Israel Museum and get their first opportunity in outings with Jews in the program. In 1995, the groups began to travel to Jordan.

The fourth quarter of the project year also saw efforts to develop a new aspect of the program, with academic discussions, lectures and tours highlighting the similarity and contrasts among the three monotheistic religions. Subjects covered included the views of Judaism, Islam and Christianity toward the land of Israel, toward Jerusalem and toward each other.

The overall Jewish-Arab Coexistence Project offered the following activities in 1995:

• Arabic language courses (two semesters) — 200 Jewish participants.

• Hebrew language courses (four semesters x five classes) — 480 Arab participants.

• Eight cultural evenings — 2,300 Jewish and Arab participants.

• Eight experiential tours — 875 Jewish and Arab participants.

• Three group trips to Jordan — 173 Jewish and Arab participants.

When the program began in 1992, 50 Jews and 50 Arabs participated. Twelve months later, that number had reached 1,750, with the addition of the excursions and encounters. Total participation in 1995 exceeded 3,000.


Coexistence, as such, actually appears nowhere in the program. The idea is to engage Jews and Arabs side by side in other, unrelated activities such as language instruction and cross-cultural events which, by virtue of the close proximity promote coexistence.

Participants feel comfortable because meetings are held in a "neutral" environment.

The study of language can be used as a bridge for coexistence.

Opportunities for Cooperation:

Beit Shmuel provides a good model for bringing different groups together to participate in joint activities of mutual interest. The program could be adapted to take students from different language programs on field trips, for example, to each other's religious institutions and neighborhoods, or to visit a third ethnic or religious community.

Beit Hagefen


Motti Peri
Beit Hagefen
2 Hagefen St., POB 92421
Haifa 35662
Tel. 4-525-252/1, Fax. 4-529-166


To organize and foster nonpolitical meetings and cultural activities for Arabs and Jews.

To develop intercultural relations between various religions and communities.

To disseminate the idea of coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Israel and all over the world, and help in the establishment of additional centers with similar ideas and goals.

To increase and enrich Arab cultural activities in Israel.

To initiate and develop cultural ties with Arab countries and with the Palestinian Authority as part of the peace process.

Target Population:

All ages.

Program and Activities:

Beit Hagefen was founded in 1963 to create a meeting place for social and cultural encounters between Jews and Arabs, and to encourage and promote understanding and coexistence. Beit Hagefen sponsors a wide range of activities for both Arabs and Jews, including cross-cultural encounters for all age groups, extracurricular activities, women's clubs, Arabic theater, a Visitors Center, an Arab/Jewish folklore troupe, a library, an art gallery and a training center for Education for Democracy and Coexistence. Beit Hagefen also sponsors special events, such as the annual Arab Book and Culture Month and Days of Friendship and Fraternity (Hanukkah-Christmas-Ramadan art exhibitions, concerts and activities).

The target population of the Visitor Center is high school students and tourists. Its activities include guided tours of sites of interest in Haifa, hospitality provided in Jewish and Arab homes in Haifa, Arab villages and settlements in northern Israel, and workshops and lectures given by Jewish and Arab guest lecturers and by members of the Beit Hagefen professional staff.

The training center for Education Towards Democracy and Coexistence has several programs. One aimed at students from fifth through eleventh grades, is conducted by a Jewish and Arab instructor, with the goals of acquainting Jewish and Arab students, eliminating stereotypes and prejudices, creating an atmosphere of mutual tolerance, emphasizing commonalities of Jewish and Arab Israeli citizens, acquainting participants with the national and cultural identities of the two peoples and stressing that common citizenship is a basis for coexistence.

Before the two groups meet, preparatory sessions are held to examine stereotyped thinking, generalizations and prejudice, analyze situations and events relating to Jewish-Arab relations and explore the problems and the possibilities for cooperation based on their identity as Israeli citizens. The first and second meetings, held alternately in a Jewish and Arab school, begin the process of personal and cultural acquaintance. They play mutual trust games, study language, play sports, engage in drama productions and work on joint art projects. Older students have lunches in the homes of participants. The third meeting is held at Beit Hagefen. This session is designed to deepen awareness of national identity and civic topics and air issues related to the reciprocal relations of Jews and Arabs. The group also watches short films related to democracy, pluralism and coexistence and discusses them, participates in simulations and other activities to develop coping strategies. The fourth meeting is a joint activity, such as a sports day, field trip or theater excursion. A similar program for kindergarten children brings Jews and Arabs together for games, language instruction, creative drama, puppet shows and theater.

High school principals and center staff choose 14-20 students for a two-year Young Leadership program that meets every two-three weeks. The first meetings focus on getting acquainted, learning about their shared interests and values. Later, they begin to discuss differences in religion, culture and stereotypes. The political conflicts are not ignored, but they are not the main subject. The group visits each other's homes, travels together and works on joint projects.

The "Good Neighbors Project" for adults seeks to raise consciousness, interest and curiosity in the Jewish and Arab residents of Haifa, to bring about social meetings for personal, social and cultural acquaintance, to initiate joint creative-cultural activities and projects and to foster mutual tolerance, understanding and coexistence. A variety of joint projects are held at community centers, such as festivals to mark holidays, discussion forums, sports tournaments, picnics and folk dancing.


Sessions to examine stereotyped thinking, generalizations and prejudice are important to prepare groups for encounters.

Joint activities that involve the communities and parents foster mutual tolerance.

Having students go to each other's homes for lunch makes the encounter more intimate and meaningful.

Opportunities for Cooperation:

The "Good Neighbor Project" is an applicable model for promoting relations between communities in the United States. Another project that might hold promise for the United States, and would be easy to implement, is a cultural festival modeled after the one held in the Arab neighborhood near Beit Hagefen. Works of art are exhibited in homes, stores, even falafel stands. Visitors follow a route through the neighborhood and have the chance to see beautiful art, explore the community and meet the residents. Similar festivals could be designed to bring Jews, for example, to black neighborhoods and vice versa.

Re'ut Sadaka


Michael Raphael
Educational Supervisor
Re'ut Sadaka
20 Allenby St.
Haifa, 33265
Tel. 4-526926, Fax. 4-8528392


To educate young Israelis, members of all national, cultural, and religious groups living in this country, toward a multi-cultural society based on tolerance, respect for others and the common construction of an Israeli society for the benefit of all its constituent parts.

Target Population:

Jews and Arabs ages 14-18 and high school graduates.

Program and Activities:

Re'ut-Sadaka (Friendship) is a Jewish-Arab youth movement that forms connections between Arabs and Jews and encourages coexistence. Re'ut's motto is "to respect diversity and build unity." It is a nonformal education group and, unlike other youth groups in Israel, is not connected to or funded by a political party. Founded in 1982, Re'ut-Sadaka now has many branches throughout Israel. In Re'ut-Sadaka, young people are educated according to the principles of coexistence and equal rights — for Arabs and Jews, men and women, and for the different ethnic groups in Israel.

Re'ut believes that differences between Arabs and Jews in Israel exist on a basic, cultural level and that conflict stems from miscommunication on this cultural level. Re'ut believes its goals can be achieved through lengthy interaction between the two peoples. Activities include weekly meetings, special topical seminars, trips, youth exchanges, a year of service, volunteer projects and public and social activity.

Re'ut combines the encounter and experiential methodologies, though the preference is for the latter. Re'ut works with more than 500 young people each year. At any one time, 10-15 groups of 15-20 16-17 year-olds participate in programs that last nearly a year. The meetings take place after school to distinguish the activities from their compulsory studies. Each group has a Jewish and an Arab facilitator, both specially trained, and consists of Arab and Jewish students from the same geographic area. For the first 4-5 weeks the groups use games and interviews to become acquainted. The rationale is to create a positive climate before delving into the conflict. The next 4-5 weeks serve as an introduction to Jewish and Arab culture. The third period begins to look at stereotypes and the final meetings involve discussions of identity and politics. Ongoing contact enables participants to break down stereotypes and prejudice, and to respect diversity. The weekly meetings are supplemented by in-depth movement-wide seminars on specific topics such as political and moral issues facing Israeli society.

As a second-best alternative, Re'ut also sponsors intense two-day "encounters," as well as special social and educational excursions to various sights throughout the country. In addition, Re'ut participates in exchanges with youth movements throughout the world., which broaden the horizons of participants and allow for the sharing of information with young people in other countries. Also, Re'ut carries out special leadership seminars and discussions for members who will one day be counselors.

Re'ut also runs a project called "One Year of Life for Coexistence." Participants in this project are high school graduates who choose to do a year of service and delay their military service or other plans. These Arab and Jewish young people become counselors to old groups, form new ones, and participate in volunteer work within their respective communities. During this year, they share an apartment — living the principles of coexistence day by day and learning problem solving techniques from experience. This program develops leadership among young Jewish and Arab Israelis with the goal of influencing the two communities toward peaceful coexistence and cooperation.

To encourage members of the group to take personal and social responsibility, Re'ut initiates volunteer projects each year. Members of the group set up volunteer work camps in poor neighborhoods while organizing educational activities for local youths.


It is important for projects to be consistent and ongoing.

The programs take place after school to distinguish the activities from their compulsory studies.

Opportunities for Cooperation:

Teachers from Ahlen, Germany, worked with Re'ut to learn how to teach coexistence to teens. That city was dealing with problems between Germans and immigrant Turks. Re'ut counselors helped organize youth groups in Ahlen to combat racism and held seminars for professionals to teach their methods. Re'ut is particularly interested in finding U.S. partners and working to develop joint programs with U.S. student groups that visit Israel. The "year of service" offers an interesting model for a kind of service corps that would provide services to communities while promoting coexistence.

The Leo Baeck Education Center


Rabbi Samuel
The Leo Baeck Education Center
P.O. Box 6283
Haifa 31062
Tel. 4-833-1080, Fax. 4-833-6582


To foster tolerance.

Target Population:

Ages four to adult.

Program and Activities:

The Leo Baeck Education Center is an organization dedicated to the advancement of progressive and humanist education in Israel. Connected with the World Union for Progressive Judaism (the Reform Movement), the Center encompasses several institutions, including a junior and senior high school and a community center.

For eight years, the Center has run a summer camp for Jewish and Arab children to encourage the formation of a group identity. The camp's activities include getting to know you games, competition and contests between the groups, arts and crafts, computers, sports and field trips.

One innovative aspect of the camp is the approach to language. Since Arabs usually know Hebrew, but Jews do not know Arabic, Hebrew is the dominant language. To avoid this, all instructions for group activities were written in both languages so the Jewish and Arab counselors had to help one another to read and understand them. The intermingling of the languages in the instructions was on the sub-sentence level, so neither counselor could understand the whole sentence without help from the other. In this way, mutual assistance between the counselors and an equalization between the Hebrew and Arabic languages was achieved.

In the future, the plan is to continue some of the camp's activities during the school year to change the infrequent and superficial nature of contact between the two populations, and to dismantle any prejudices and mistrust between them by allowing a natural growth of friendship.

The Arab-Jewish Photography class, "Film for Thought," is aimed at ninth graders. The project seeks to add social meaning to the production of photographs and to give an artistic meaning to the social interaction between Jewish and Arab teens. The group travels on field trips to sites that reflect the diverseness of Israel's social fabric. Teamwork is emphasized in professional training of photography skills.

As with other programs, the idea of working with young children, from kindergarten up, is to expose them at an early age to the "other" so they will grow up more tolerant. "Gan Yachad," Leo Baeck's day care center aims to provide the special educational attention needed by children, ages 4-9, from extremely distressed emotional and economic backgrounds, to introduce Arab and Jewish children to one another at an impressionable age so they can learn to identify with one another and recognize their mutual humanity, and to serve as a model of coexistence.

The classes are separate, held in mirror-image wings, with a joint courtyard and play area. Daily interaction between the two groups of children facilitates their education in tolerance and coexistence. Joint programming is conducted in both Hebrew and Arabic, with the aim of providing both groups of children rudimentary knowledge of the other group's language.

While many coexistence projects involve people who are predisposed toward tolerance, that is not the case in this program because of the population's poverty and emotional problems. Hungry, neglected children are not best suited for participating in coexistence activities; they are struggling hard enough merely to exist themselves. Therefore, the work done by the social worker and house mother to help these children is a crucial first step toward helping these children believe in themselves. Once this step has been taken, the next step, of helping the children to believe in one another, Arab and Jew alike, can be taken.

Leo Baeck also promotes tolerance of immigrants in the way it integrates teenagers in the classroom. Newcomers have two conflicting needs: a) to understand the language and b) social integration. The Center's solution is to integrate immigrants in classes that are not language-based (e.g., math) and segregate them in home room for subjects like Bible and literature that are language-based.

A less formal model of coexistence is the community center run by Leo Baeck, which is open to Arabs and Jews.


The use of language differences to promote interdependency, making Arabic and Hebrew speakers reliant on one another to carry out the programs.

The use of enjoyable, experiential activities to promote the formation of friendships between the Arab and Jewish children.

Opportunities for Cooperation:

The summer camp, kindergarten and photography class are models that could be replicated in the United States. In addition, the example of a community center that welcomes all groups might be applied in areas with Jewish community centers. This would provide a place for Jews and other groups to mix for mutually enjoyable activities, as opposed to forced encounters.

Interns for Peace


Rabbi Bruce Cohen
International Director
Interns for Peace
35 Ge'ula St., P.O. Box 5796
Tel Aviv 61047
Tel. 3-517-6525, Fax. 3-517-7995


To establish cooperative community work projects between Arab and Jewish cities.

To train professionals in Jewish-Arab relations, democracy and human rights.

To increase democracy and human rights by public policy initiatives to build a more equitable society.

To increase respect among all clans and groups to create a more tolerant society.

To educate Jews and Arabs about cooperative projects for promoting peace.

To develop models of conflict resolution for other areas in the world.

Target Population:

College graduates and adults.

Program and Activities:

The Interns for Peace (IFP) program brings Jews and Arabs together for joint community activities. The assumption is that personal, emotionally-laden experiences are the most vital components in breaking down stereotypes and building trust among people of different political and cultural backgrounds. IFP believes that lacking personal relations with their fellow Israeli Arab citizens, most Israeli Jews fear them.

Interns come from Israel and other countries. Most now come from Israel. The average age of an intern is 32. Interns have flexibility, cultural respect and a high tolerance for ambiguity. They view difficulties as challenges or opportunities for improvement. As a training program for community peace workers, IFP builds trust through cooperative action in community development on a regional level among the Jewish and Arab citizens of the State of Israel. One well-trained, motivated and talented intern can effectively bring together thousands of Jews and Arabs — adults and youth. Peace workers undergo an intensive one month orientation program prior to placement in the community. Usually interns are paired and live and work in a Jewish and/or Arab city for a period of up to two years. Interns are paid a stipend and receive health insurance and travel money. They receive free housing from their host communities.

IFP projects fall under six main categories:

• Mutual Community Development — Highway safety, ecology and shared resources.

• Business/Industry — IFP initiated the "Center for Jewish-Arab Economic Development" to encourage economic development in the Arab sector.

• Education for Democracy — Pairs neighboring Jewish and Arab school systems for interactions that are held every six weeks for grades 5 to 12, and which actively involve teachers and parents.

• Sports — Mixed teams/clinics in soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis, rugby and other sports.

• Cultural Interaction — Regional art, music, dance, theater festivals and clinics.

• Women United — Brings Jewish and Arab women together for projects and discussions related to health, safety and careers.

The major project is Education for Democracy, which began 20 years ago. The project pairs neighboring Jewish and Arab schools for a series of carefully structured monthly interactions in each other's communities for fifth through twelfth graders, where the youth do or learn together instead of talking at each other. Due to IFP, thousands of Jewish and Arab youths visit each other's schools, communities and homes during school hours.

The project begins by IFP senior staff identifying Jewish and Arab school principals who agree to take the project to their teachers. Once the teachers agree to be active implementors of the project, the educators, IFP staff and interns meet with the parents to receive their approval. Any parent may elect not to have their child participate. If widespread parental resistance is encountered, then all the parents are invited to visit the neighboring community/school before their children actually begin the project. Once the project starts, parents, both those who are resistant and those who are positive, are encouraged to be chaperones for the actual interactions.

After receiving parental approval, the interns, Jewish and Arab teachers meet together to plan a year-long series of interactions on a particular theme. The final selection of the theme is determined democratically by the children. On the junior high level, the Jewish and Arab pupils are encouraged to form a Pupil Council to plan the interactions throughout the year.

Each interaction is preceded by two preparations and followed by one feedback session with each side separately. It is in these uni-ethnic sessions that pupils are encouraged to reveal their fears and stereotypes, openly evaluate the previous interaction and prepare for the next one.

During the past 20 years, IFP trained 180 Jewish and Arab interns. Many graduate interns become professionals in coexistence. IFP graduates have founded and staffed many of the organizations working on Jewish-Arab relations. Other IFP graduates become rabbis, Jewish communal leaders or community workers. IFP's Arab interns often become communal leaders or community workers to strengthen indigenous non-governmental agencies in the Arab sector.


The IFP affective (emotional) versus cognitive (dialogue) methodology creates positive attitudinal change by uniting Jews and Arabs in actions that satisfy their mutual interests while promoting respect for each culture.

By having interns commit themselves to long-term service to the community, the importance of the project is reinforced.

Pairing of people from groups in conflict as interns creates bonds between the two individuals and sets an example for the community.

The active involvement of parents and educators is essential to a project's success.

Opportunities for Cooperation:

IFP can be a model for adding another layer to existing community service programs in the United States. Interns here could also be paired with someone from another group and sent to work together in a community. In fact, IFP is already initiating a project in New York to bring together African-Americans, Hispanics and Jews. Ultimately, the project is aimed at the broader goal of integrating all ethnic groups in Metropolitan New York. This pilot project will concentrate on five areas: networking to create a domestic peace corps, bringing Black/Hispanic and Jewish/White schoolchildren together on a regular basis, networking Black/Hispanic and Jewish/White business leaders for involvement in the Harlem/South Bronx Empowerment Zone, pairing traditionally Black churches with Jewish synagogues for regularly scheduled shared events and bringing Black/Hispanic and Jewish/White youth together to learn agricultural and horticultural skills.

International YMCA


Rizek Abushrarr
Associate Director General
International YMCA
26 King David St.
P.O. Box 294
Jerusalem 91002
Tel. 2-257111/253-433, Fax. 2-253-438


To foster tolerance and coexistence.

Target Population:

Kindergarten to adult.

Program and Activities:

The Jerusalem International YMCA was formed in 1878 and is a branch of YMCA U.S.A. It is a voluntary association of members joined together for service, leadership, self-development and fellowship. From the outset, the center has served as a meeting place for people of all races, faiths and political persuasions and is run by a board comprising Jews, Christians and Muslims. The YMCA's mission, inscribed at its entrance, is to be "a place whose atmosphere is peace, where political and religious jealousies can be forgotten and international unity fostered and developed."

The YMCA has many programs throughout the year designed to foster coexistence and tolerance. Two particular programs are pursued aggressively:

The Youth Leadership Club brings together 32 15-17 year-olds, split evenly between Jews and Arabs, who are identified by Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam (see pg. 18). The group meets for three hours every Thursday. For the first three months, they focus on activities like going to a movie and out for pizza. Later they use simulations to discuss issues and political problems (e.g., the future of Jerusalem). These young people get practical experience as assistant leaders in the spring, summer and fall camps and graduate into leaders for the "Y" and other community centers. The program lasts two years and the third year the graduates can become teachers. One or two are assisted further if they choose to pursue a career in social group work on a higher education level.

The Integrated Nursery/Kindergarten Program has 50 Jewish and Arab boys and girls, ages 2-4. The integrated program comprises two separate classes of Jewish and Arab children, each of whom has two teachers — a Jew and an Arab. Each group learns about its own culture, language and folklore, in addition to learning about each other in joint activities. This group affects 500 persons — parents, grandparents and other extended family members. Once a month an activity is organized for the parents, mostly lectures, picnics and home visits. In most instances, it is the first exposure of parents to a different culture. Stereotypes are broken and barriers removed unconsciously.


A neutral site encourages participation in coexistence projects.

It is important to train leaders.

Leadership training can incorporate conflict resolution methodologies.

Parents of children in coexistence programs should be included in activities.

Coexistence education can begin with young children.

Opportunities for Cooperation:

YMCA's exist all over the United States. They could be vehicles to adopt programs modeled after the Jerusalem YMCA programs to promote coexistence between groups in conflict in the communities where the Ys are located.

Ein Dor Museum of Archaeology


Carmela Arnon
Director and Curator
Ein Dor Museum of Archaeology
Kibbutz Ein Dor, Mobile Post Jezreel Valley, 19335
Tel. 06768333, Fax. 06768440
E-mail: [email protected]


To teach mutual cooperation and respect through the investigation and reenactment of the practices of ancient civilizations.

Target Population:

Arab and Jewish pupils in grades five and six.

Program and Activities:

Kibbutz Ein Dor is located in the eastern section of the Lower Galilee, a demographically diversified region. The staff of the Museum of Archaeology sees part of its function as affording a common meeting ground for the different communities and encouraging the undertaking of joint ventures between them. By familiarizing themselves with the region's ancient culture through investigation and the reenactment of ancient practices, museum visitors will hopefully learn to reexamine their own modern-day lifestyles and customs.

The emphasis in this project is on the ties made between Arab and Jewish children. The museum interests both Arab and Jewish children and thus provides an excellent setting for a meeting between the two communities. Through joint participation in an educational project it is hoped that Arab and Jewish children will get to know each other, and learn cooperation and mutual respect. The present-day realities of suspicion, animosity, fear and estrangement are direct products of the distance and alienation which this project aims to combat. By affording the opportunity of a common positive experience through a systematic educational program where the other side's point of view is also examined, the museum staff hopes to bridge the gap between the two sides.

Students in grades five and six were chosen because the Arab children have mastered enough Hebrew to communicate with the Jews, and all the children are still young enough to be open to positive influences on the subject of coexistence. Approximately 150 pupils from four different classes participate in the program.

The schools represent a wide range of social groups in Israeli society. Of the two Arab schools, one is from a city (Nazareth), and one is from an agricultural village (Kfar Masr). The Jewish schools are from a development town (Migdal Ha'emek) and a kibbutz (Gazit).

The first steps in the project are to select schools interested in taking part in the project; pair each Arab school with a Jewish school from the same area, find teachers within the participating schools willing to work toward the project's success and conduct monthly meetings between the schools over a ten month period. Preparation for the meetings is done by a committee comprising the museum staff and a special task force from each school that includes interested parents. The committee devises a creative, experiential, and educational enterprise for each meeting and works free time into the course of each meeting in which participants can meet in a more open environment.

The group is divided into subgroups of four pupils each (two Arabs, two Jews). An adult (teacher or parent) is then assigned to each subgroup. Parents are also invited to join the project as active participants. Meetings last three-and-a-half to four hours and include the following: study, hands-on experience, creative endeavors, free time and a break for food and drink.


The museum program provides a unique arena for Arabs and Jews to reconfirm their desire to live and learn together. The program organizers do not ignore the day's events but afford the participants an opportunity to address them spontaneously and freely, and most important, together. Since the schools selected are from the same geographic area, neighborly relationships are being formed and mutual visits are being organized. As the fears and suspicions are slowly peeled away, a first step in the desired goal of coexistence between Jew and Arab in the area is being taken.

Groups are brought together to engage in an activity that is interesting in a place that is non-threatening.

Each meeting is recorded on video to better analyze the course of events.

Opportunities for Cooperation:

Ein Dor could provide a model for American museums to create joint programs for groups of school children from different backgrounds.



Harry Rhodes, Director
Yasser Faour, Chairman
MATA Misgav
D.N. Misgav 20179
Tel. 4-980-0039, Fax. 4-980-0389
E-mail: [email protected]


To promote friendly and positive relations between Jews and Arabs of all ages in the Galilee.

To foster mutual understanding of the two separate communities' cultures and ways of life.

To encourage joint educational and cultural undertakings.

To spread the ideal of Jewish-Arab coexistence throughout the lower Galilee and, ultimately, throughout the country.

To actively work to bring about equality between Jews and Arabs.

Target Population:

All ages.

Program and Activities:

In Israel today, approximately 80 percent of the population is Jewish and 20 percent Arab. In the lower Galilee however, the situation is the opposite: 80 percent Arabs and 20 percent Jews. As in the rest of the country, most Jews in the towns and rural settlements associated with the Misgav regional council have little or no contact with their Arab neighbors. There is little tension in the area, yet both Jews and Arabs are deeply influenced by unrest in other parts of the country. Children grow up with racist stereotypes, and the cycle of hatred and fear persists.

To break this cycle, residents from Moshav Shorashim and the village of Shaab created The Shaab-Shorashim Good Neighbors Program, which after six years culminated in the formation of SHEMESH (Shorashim-Misgav-Shaab).

SHEMESH has grown beyond Shorashim, Misgav and Shaab. Today it is a regional, nonprofit organization (Amuta) that includes members from many Jewish and Arab localities in the lower Galilee, however, it continues to be a grassroots organization. SHEMESH is not affiliated with any institution or political movement, but it enjoys the support of the municipal authorities in the area.

The progress in the peace talks has changed the atmosphere in Israel. Israeli Jews and Arabs are now more open to cooperative ventures. SHEMESH has sponsored many such programs in the past and is always looking for new and creative ideas that will bring together Jews and Arabs in a natural setting. The program list for 1995 included:

The Good Neighbors Summer Camps — This summer camp is the mainstay of SHEMESH programming for Jewish and Arab children, 6-13 years old. After seven years, the camp has grown from one session with 60 children from just Shorashim and Shaab, to a regional camp including two sessions with nearly 300 participants from many locations in the lower Galilee.

During the first session, a two-week long day camp for 6-11 year old Jewish and Arab children, the campers spend an intensive period together getting to know one another through arts and crafts, sports, music, day trips, community projects and an overnight camping trip. Parents are encouraged to participate actively in the program, including a special evening of entertainment for all the families involved. In 1995, SHEMESH offered a second session of this camp for 12-13 year olds, those who have outgrown the original camp.

Youth Leadership Training — More than 20 Jewish and Arab teenagers from Misgav and Shaab meet together regularly in a program that includes leadership training, community and social action, and field trips and social activities together that stress group cohesiveness. This project has proven to be a successful method for bringing together Jewish and Arab teenagers and for building a trained staff for SHEMESH activities.

Chugim — Joint extracurricular activities (chugim) are a way to bring Jews and Arabs together through informal education in community schools. Jewish and Arab children, aged 10-12, meet weekly throughout the school year and participate in a wide range of activities, which have included computers, soccer, arts and crafts and cooking. Each year, new chugim are introduced. This combination of extracurricular activities, social events and multi-cultural learning is a novel way in which to change the accepted norm of separate Jewish-Arab education.

NEIGHBORS — A student newspaper in Hebrew, Arabic and English is produced by Jewish and Arab eighth and ninth graders. The editorial staff meets regularly to decide on the content and layout of the newspaper. They learn together throughout the year how to publish a newspaper and what should be special about a joint publication. The process of working and learning together is just as important as the end product. SHEMESH plans on involving more schools so that it will become a regional student newspaper.

The Inbal Choir — A joint choir of approximately 30 children, ages 10-14, began working together in the middle of December 1993. The children in the choir come from the Misgav and Shaab community schools and from local schools in the village of Sakhnin. Music is an international language which should be used to build bridges between the two communities.

Adult Courses — To break down barriers between Jews and Arabs, communication is essential; therefore, SHEMESH has offered adult spoken Arabic courses for the past seven years. The Arabic courses stress the learning of spoken Arabic and Arabic culture. Included in the course are guest speakers from different Arab villages and visits to museums and other places of interest in Arab villages in the area.


Parents are encouraged to participate actively in the program.

Leaders are trained to build a cadre of future staff for SHEMESH activities.

Prospective leaders meet regularly to develop group cohesiveness.

Joint extracurricular activities provide an informal education in schools.

A joint newspaper is a project of mutual interest to diverse groups.

Opportunities for Cooperation:

SHEMESH offers a model for developing community-wide activities to promote coexistence.

The Neighborhood Home


Beth Martin
Assistant Director
Friendship's Way
Bat Ami St., #3
P.O. Box 8349
Jaffa 61082
Tel. 3-681-6713, Fax. 3-518-0403


To develop long-term relations between Jews and Arabs based on friendship, mutual respect, tolerance and equality.

To insure the primary physical and emotional needs of disadvantaged, inner-city children of Jaffa are fulfilled by providing nutritious meals, proper medical care, a strong sense of security and safety, and the tools necessary for a successful integration into society.

To provide positive experiences and a supportive environment that promotes the child's self-esteem.

To offer high-quality educational and social activities in a homelike, loving and supportive atmosphere.

Target Population:

Children at risk, ages 6-12, parents and immigrants from the former Soviet Union.

Program and Activities:

Friendship's Way: The Jewish-Arab Association for the Child and Family is a grassroots, multi-service organization that seeks to improve the conditions of socially, economically and educationally deprived Jewish and Arab children and their families. It was created in 1983 by Jewish and Arab volunteers tutoring Arab youngsters in Hebrew and Arabic. Starting in the homes of the children, Friendship's Way later shifted its work to empty classrooms made available after school hours. To make up for the lack of funds, volunteers initiated profit-making endeavors, working as private gardeners for two years in Tel Aviv. They donated their earnings to pay for the rental of two floors of the current building.

The Neighborhood Home is a daily, after-school enrichment program for 50 Jewish and Arab children of families at high risk. The majority of kids are referred to the Home by school guidance counselors and social workers. Approximately 80 percent of the children are from welfare-supported families. Many children involved in the Neighborhood Home, who would otherwise be placed in a boarding school or foster home, receive an enriched education, social activities and a hot, well-balanced lunch and dinner. The Home allows children to maintain daily contact with their families and offers a haven from dangerous surroundings. The majority of children in the Home come from environments characterized by substance abuse, poverty, neglect, malnutrition, violence and abuse.

The Friendship's Way minibus brings the children directly to the Center at the end of their school day (2:00 p.m.). Upon arrival, the staff and children share a hot lunch together like a family. Throughout the day, the kids participate in a range of educational and social activities. At 5:45, the children take a break for an informal group discussion over sandwiches and tea. By 8:00 p.m., most of the children are returned home by the Friendship's Way van. The remaining 16 kids consist of those from the most high risk family situations. Spending an additional hour at Friendship's Way, they receive dinner and extra time for enrichment activities and personal attention.

It is Friendship's Way's philosophy that education is a path to equality. One of the main differences between the Neighborhood Home and other after-school centers is that children receive assistance with homework in addition to approximately fifteen hours a week of formal and informal lessons in Hebrew, Arabic, English and math. Special interest clubs are also offered in sports, drama, chorus, music, science, dance, arts and crafts and health education.

Periodic consultation meetings take place with school psychologists, guidance counselors and teachers. In addition, Friendship's Way provides regular updates to Jaffa's Welfare services, reporting on the children's physical and emotional welfare and family situation. In cases of severe neglect and abuse, a Child Protection Official/Social Worker may remove children in danger from their homes as a result of Friendship's Way intervention.

To best meet the needs of the child, the Friendship's Way staff works in close coordination with their families. Parents are required to play an active role in their children's education. They meet regularly with the Friendship's Way staff and pay a monthly symbolic fee. Fifteen mothers participate in a weekly discussion group on issues of child raising.

Special consideration has been placed on teaching the children tolerance and respect. Activities include group discussions that deal with stereotypes and prejudices, and celebrations of Jewish, Muslim and Christian holidays and traditions. They learn about each other's folklore through songs, dance and stories. All written material appears in both Hebrew and Arabic.

The cost for running these activities is minimal, since they are led by professional volunteers on the premises of Friendship's Way. The volunteer staff includes 30 Arab and Jewish university students and academicians, parents and community activists. Volunteers come from around the world and commit themselves to at least one year of service.


Friendship's Way is the only program in Israel where an equal number of Jewish and Arab youngsters in distress interact daily over a long period of time.

The essence of the program is based on a multicultural atmosphere. All languages are spoken, the staff is mixed Jewish-Arab, all holidays are celebrated.

Opportunities for Cooperation:

Friendship's Way offers a model for an integrated after-school program for youth at-risk.

Education for Peace and Coexistence


Ms. Hadara Keich
Janusz Korczak Educational Center for Peace and Coexistence
David Yellin Teachers College
POB 3578
Jerusalem 91035
Tel. 02-651-3111, Fax. 02-652-1548


To study the society and culture of Israeli Jews and Arabs.

To encourage the self-expression of all cultural communities enrolled at the college.

To develop, produce and implement teaching materials relating to coexistence at the early childhood, elementary and junior high levels.

To teach the theory and use the theme of coexistence in a multi-disciplinary framework.

To serve as a local and international resource to further coexistence and peace.

To identify, encourage and develop leadership traits and skills that will later be used to initiate projects to further disseminate the theme of coexistence and peace in their careers and local communities.

Target Population:

Arab and Jewish undergraduates of David Yellin Teachers College who come from communities throughout Israel.

The administration and teaching staff of the Jerusalem-area nursery and elementary schools where College students teach and consult, as well as the students and their parents.

Jews and Arabs who are attracted by the work the Center is doing and take courses for laymen and education professionals in the field of coexistence.

Program and Activities:

"Education for Peace and Coexistence" aims to teach — and teach educators how to teach — pluralism, tolerance, humanism and democracy, and to further mutual understanding, respect and peace between Jews and Arabs in Israel. To achieve these goals, the course is planned so the:

a) Intellectual learning processes shared by Jews and Arabs result in dialogue, prejudices are replaced by new openness and understanding and deep professional and personal friendships are formed.

b) Graduates will promulgate the principles of coexistence and tolerance learned in the classroom, and their shared teaching experiences, by observing and teaching them in the Israeli school system, and by developing related projects with their colleagues in the "real world."

The two-semester course, "Education for Peace and Coexistence," is a study of the historical, cultural, sociological, psychological, educational and didactic aspects of coexistence, taught by four instructors (two Arabs, two Jews). The course is open to all students, but an equal number of Jewish and Arab students must be enrolled since they study and work in pairs (one Arab, one Jew) throughout the year. Outstanding students are awarded prizes for their work at the end of the year, and one pair or more are invited to attend the annual conference of the International Korczak Association.

In Stage I, Arab and Jewish students and faculty study the similarities and differences between them. This phase is on both the theoretical/academic and social levels. The core course meets for three hours weekly and includes a group dynamics workshop led by a psychologist, which comprises about 25 percent of the course hours, and a large number of guest lectures by experts in such fields as Arabic and Hebrew children's literature and Palestinian nationalism. This stage is part of the regular course work required of all students in the Korczak Center.

During their academic/theoretical studies, students visit Jewish and Arab schools to examine the social, political and cultural foundations of the educational system. They also visit Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam (see page 18), to study a mixed classroom and community. The course opens with an "encounter" weekend at Neve Shalom.

Stage II consists of the preparation and construction of models and curricula for teaching coexistence in the school system and in informal educational settings. Students create curricula and teaching materials for separate preparatory activities in Jewish and Arab classrooms, as well as for combined activities that follow between the groups.

In Stage III, joint teams of Arab and Jewish students teach and conduct formal activities — drawing and painting, singing and dancing, nature hikes, drama and games — within an educational framework (elementary schools, day camps). These activities, with both Arab and Jewish participants, demonstrate the similarities and differences between the cultures, teaching the lesson that it is possible for one culture to get along with the other.

The final stage involves the production of a videotape incorporating the shared experiences from the academic, practical and social components of the program, and evaluating how those experiences affected and changed the attitudes of the participants. The results of the project are assessed and published.


It is important to hold a comprehensive, preliminary preparation component for the faculty — which should, ideally, be composed of members of all groups or communities involved in the conflict — to become familiar with and respect the "other" group. This can include theoretical studies, discussions and group dynamics techniques.

The students should be members of all groups or communities involved in the conflict — in numbers that would enable them to study and work in pairs.

Theoretical studies should include cultural activities and the arts, and should encompass all activities relevant to the daily life of the communities involved, such as holiday celebrations and religious ceremonies. Once the students have internalized their opposite's culture, they will be better equipped and motivated to initiate activities to promulgate the principles of tolerance and coexistence.

Young children are more receptive to new ideas; consequently, projects are created for kindergarten and the lower grades of elementary school. The program has shown that differences of culture and language can easily be overcome at a young age.

Working with young children requires a very structured project, with a preparatory period in which each group is taught separately by a mixed pair of students to prepare them for the later stage of combined group activities.

The project must first win the sincere support of the adults involved — the school faculty or the community center staff. These are essential for the smooth running of the project.

The support and cooperation of the children's parents are an essential component of the success of the project. Many parents found this an excellent opportunity to meet members of the opposite community and benefitted from the same learning experience that had been planned for their children.

The Jewish and Arab students who study, work and create together in these courses and in their practice teaching assignments build mutual respect and, often, long-lasting personal relationships that extend from the professional to the social sphere.

The nursery and elementary school children who participate are exposed, often for the first time, to the concepts of tolerance, openness and mutual respect. For them, it is a major revelation when they suddenly discover that, whether Arabs or Jews, "the `other' children look just like us, go to school just like us, play games and learn just like us." For many, especially the younger ones, this is the first and, for some, the only opportunity to see the other children and their families in a non-threatening, equal-status situation.

The concepts and pedagogic methodologies taught at the College ultimately influence the entire educational system through the careers of the program's graduates.

Opportunities for Cooperation:

The College could work with U.S. institutions to build an academic program and to create a community center or school project. The staff could also develop original teaching materials for use in schools and other educational frameworks.

Traditional Creativity in the Schools Project


Dr. Simon Lichman
Centre for Creativity in Education and Cultural Heritage
Korei Hadorot 20
Talpiot, Jerusalem
Tel. 2-723-934


To design and implement innovative education projects that help create a climate of cultural pluralism and intergenerational understanding through strengthening participants' interest in their own cultural heritage.

To build lasting relationships between neighboring cultures and generations in each community.

To involve parents and children in the research of their own traditions at home.

To bring parents into the schools as educators.

To bring parents of Jewish and Arab communities into contact with one another.

To provide educators in both communities the opportunity to work together.

Target Population:

Students in grades 5-7 and their parents.

Program and Activities:

In the process of creating a unified national culture and integrating immigrants from diverse backgrounds, pressure is felt to join the mainstream, with the result that home-cultures in both Jewish and Arab sectors of society have often been rejected by the younger generations and even looked down upon. Children have become alienated from their parents and grandparents, dismissing their home-culture as irrelevant to their modern lives, while the older generations lose their traditional audience for the transmission of their culture. Furthermore, contact between different communities, even those living side by side, is often limited to the workplace, with little opportunity to gain direct, positive knowledge of one another. Information coming through the media often reinforces negative stereotypes.

Since 1991, the Centre has been concentrating on a folklore and coexistence project called Traditional Creativity in the Schools, which focuses on three problem areas: cultural pluralism, social integration and generation gaps within each community, and coexistence between neighboring Arab and Jewish communities.

The program is conducted with pairs of Jewish and Arab schools in Ramle and Jerusalem. These schools were chosen because the communities have mixed populations and the participants are more likely to encounter each other than in many other places in Israel. The program will soon be expanded to include schools with large populations of new immigrants.

Classes participate for a three-year cycle, meeting one another between 10-15 times over this period. Throughout the year, the children examine their own cultural environment and folklore, collecting information from parents and grandparents. The paired Jewish and Arab classes come together three-five times per school-year to explore, for example, both communities' traditions in play, food and oral history. So far, programs have been conducted in four schools involving 520 children, 120 active family members and 35 teachers and principals.

The aim is for children to learn more about their own folklore and about the culture of the various other ethnic and religious groups and receive a window into each other's daily life and traditions. With various family members helping to create a mosaic of family history and cultural heritage, the Centre expects to see a refreshed relationship between generations, with parents and grandparents acknowledged by the schools as having wisdom to impart. The two schools' staff work together on education whereas ordinarily they have no framework even to visit each other's schools. The children see their teachers, parents and grandparents working together, visible role models of coexistence and multi-culturalism. The ultimate objective is that groups of people (children, parents, grandparents, teachers), having worked together for several years, help to develop a climate for coexistence, tolerance and self-respect.

The programs run throughout the school year. They are ongoing from one school year to the next. The Project Team works with pupils and Form Teachers in weekly class meetings in each school. Joint activities between the paired Jewish and Arab classes take place every 5-6 weeks in alternate schools; separate or joint feedback classes are held every seventh week. Exhibitions and joint End of Year community events are also organized.

The themes for fifth and sixth grade, respectively, are Traditional Play and Traditional Foodways. Subjects of study are chosen in consultation with the school staff and pupils, based on folklore and traditions found in the students' homes. Pupils ask their parents and grandparents questions about these subjects and bring information and examples to class. Background lessons are given by project staff and teachers on, for example, outdoor games around the world, food acquisition and preservation in hunter/gatherer societies, and the way information passes by word of mouth from one generation to another. The paired Jewish and Arab classes meet for joint activities. Members of students' families (as folk artists) teach, according to different traditions and practices of their childhood, activities such as jump rope and hopscotch, the making of rag dolls, hand puppets, kites, pickles and clay pita ovens.

The third year theme (grade 7) is Learning From Ourselves: Active Archives. Students assemble and maintain bilingual Active Archives out of recipes, photographs, cassettes and oral histories they collect over the three years. They record stories and songs from family members and work on family photograph albums and histories. In joint meetings, the pupils sing each other's songs and introduce their family stories. They annotate photographs of their joint past activities, reinforcing both their sense of having shared experiences and the knowledge they have acquired of each other's life. They design photographic exhibitions that are open to their communities.

Participating schools receive teaching hours from the Ministry of Education, giving the program official recognition in the curriculum and assuring that teachers are paid for project work.


Feedback sessions are held with children to evaluate success from their point of view, what they want in the future (e.g., more play/discussion/activity) and to summarize what they learned about the subject and about each other. Project staff and teachers talk with participating and nonparticipating parents and grandparents. The Centre also has a series of evaluative videotapes of class and joint activities. The photographs that are taken for ethnography and documentation purposes are also used as evaluation tools with children, parents and teaching staff. All feedback is reviewed with teaching staff.

Over the past five years, the project has developed an ongoing relationship between each pair of Jewish and Arab schools and the Centre has gained the confidence of the communities. The children show sustained interest in each other's way of life and in their own heritage. They call for information about various customs and express a stronger desire to learn Arabic and Hebrew respectively. They enjoy seeing their parents in project activities and encourage them to participate. Outside of project activities, there is ongoing communication between children that does not stop at times of tension.

By involving students in activities that are exciting and fun, educational and taxing, they can achieve a level of intimacy. As people participate in the project over a period of three years, long-term relationships between individuals, and an ongoing relationship between each pair of schools, as institutions, have been created. The two principals believe the programs contribute to the overall atmosphere of coexistence in their school-communities; they work to maintain the relationship between the schools and, furthermore, argue that involving more classes and schools could have an even greater impact on the cities.

The project provides participating children with a framework through which they can ask their parents and grandparents questions about their lives, the "history" they have experienced and the way they lived as children. Most parents and grandparents cooperate, and those who come to the schools are always ready to come again, even if the activity is not directly in their area of expertise. Building Active Archives out of the data collected from the home encourages the children to consolidate what they learned about their own traditions and about each other's community. The products in themselves are active records of the cooperative spirit in which the two school communities view one another and of the specific families' involvement with their children's education.

The children are in the program for a period of two-three years, meeting quite often over this period of time.

Participation in the program is in itself an experience of coexistence. Children work on their own heritage rather than the gap between communities, learning about each other's culture as they experience their own. An atmosphere of pluralism is encouraged through the acceptance of differences between groups as well as the discovery of similarities. Members of the extended family are brought into the process in their expert capacity as tradition-bearers and have a crucial role in planning program content. Where folklore projects usually see preservation of tradition as their main task, this project shows participants how the wisdom of tradition, transmitted as ongoing and dynamic, can facilitate social cohesion.

The project focuses on whole communities rather than on the individual students in the classroom. Since it is a "folklore project," participating children involve members of their family when learning about their home-culture, and the joint activities between the paired classes themselves are designed around specific folk artists from some of these homes. The Centre does not work for a predetermined amount of time in any community but rather as an ongoing part of the local system of education, adding new pairs of classes as the older grades "graduate." In some instances, parents now have their third child in the project, fostering an ongoing relationship with parents and teaching staff of the other community.

Opportunities for Cooperation:

The Centre offers an interesting model for combining the study of culture and folk art with coexistence.



Victor Shebar
POB 3489
Jerusalem 91034
Tel. 2-655-7271


To encourage integration between new immigrants and veteran Israelis.

To increase the awareness of professional intervenors of the necessity and the difficulties of integration.

To teach the intervenors techniques that will help them gain the trust of their target populations and overcome cultural differences.

To enlarge the number of integrating projects all over the country.

Target Population:

Social workers and community workers who concentrate on the absorption of immigrants, especially those from Ethiopia.

Program and Activities:

As a result of the various waves of immigration, the Israeli society comprises many groups with different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. To prevent the isolation of certain groups of immigrants and to reduce conflict between the immigrants and the veteran Israelis, it is necessary to encourage integration between these groups. To integrate, each of the populations has to adapt to a certain extent, but they also should keep their own ethnic and cultural identity. It is also necessary to increase contact and understanding between the various populations. The basic assumption of the program, which has been found to be correct, is that the passage of time alone is not enough to reach this goal of integration. Instead, active intervention is needed.

The participants in the Keshet program are organized in four regional groups that are guided by senior professionals. In the course of a year, seven central workshops are held, where all the participants meet for a whole day to receive theoretical and experiential training on issues that are important to the process of integration. For example, conflict identifying tools are taught, lectures are held and the participants take part in group dynamic activities. In addition, seven regional meetings that are practically oriented are convened to help the participants with the task of setting up an integration project.

The conflict resolution model developed in this and previous programs includes four strategies of intervention. They focus on:

• Attitudes — A better understanding of one's own internal fears can explain the interaction that develops with external entities.

• Specific conflict — Each one of the groups in conflict should list their fears of losing out in the conflict, and their expectations of winning, in order of importance. Consequently, the parties discuss the points they have marked as less important and thus reach a greater level of agreement.

• A mutual project — This approach advocates the establishment of a project on a neutral issue. This will help both parties work together in a more pleasant atmosphere, while each of the groups gets a chance to modify its attitudes toward the other.

• The professional training of each of the members of both groups — This way the spotlight is placed on what they have in common and the attention to differences is minimized.


Focusing on professional intervenors (social workers and community workers), who work with immigrants and veteran Israelis, has been found to be more effective than the employment of outside specialists who are not involved in the community and not trusted by the target population.

It is vital to include the veteran population in the program of integration. Often, all of the absorption efforts are directed at the population that is absorbed, while the absorbing population is neglected, which affects the process negatively. To minimize or solve conflicts during the course of the absorption, one should recognize that the veterans feel threatened in their identity and that they may feel disadvantaged. Consequently, this group should be convinced of the need for integration and be helped and included in the process.

Opportunities for Cooperation:

JDC has programs around the world and offices in the United States, so it is well equipped to work with U.S. organizations to adapt its programs. Given the difficulty of absorbing newcomers to this country, a program to train Americans to prevent the isolation of immigrants would be extremely helpful.