Campus Update 11/23:
As the temperature in Israel begins to cool down, Givat Haviva maintains its warmth. Over the past month and a half since the war commenced, we've encountered numerous challenges and have successfully cultivated a beautiful community. The evacuees we're accommodating at our campus, hailing from diverse places, cultures, and perspectives, have united akin to a varied orchestra playing in perfect harmony.
Under the leadership of Jessie and supported by "HaShomer Hatzair" alumni, our team has maintained a diverse and vibrant routine. This routine ensures that evacuees can enjoy music performances, artist-led classes, a barbershop, and soccer training. Our schedule is packed with top Israeli pop artists and children's theater performances, providing our guests with opportunities to create positive and enduring memories despite the hardships they are enduring.
We're delighted to share that the evacuees at our campus now have the opportunity to begin rebuilding their lives following the horrors of October 7th. This tragic event not only evoked deep existential fear but also instilled a persistent sense of insecurity and danger. However, as the evacuees find themselves in a more stable environment and begin to process their experiences, we witness the return of color to their faces.
Furthermore, signs of healing are becoming apparent among the evacuees. Initially arriving in a severe mental state, after a month and a half, the efforts we've invested are showing results. Our guests have been regularly visiting the mental health clinic we established for them. At our art center, we've implemented a routine of classes focusing on art therapy methods, allowing both children and adults to process their trauma creatively. Volunteers lead various classes, and we've already conducted around 10 different arts classes exclusively for the evacuees.
As schools resume in safer areas across Israel, we've ensured that each evacuee is placed in the best-suited school considering their background near Givat Haviva. Additionally, we've facilitated transportation to and from these schools. While the art center, which has provided daily activities for children over the past month and a half, is gradually resuming regular programming, the director and dedicated staff recognize the ongoing need to keep it open for a select number of evacuees, despite its booked schedule for months ahead, all aimed at extending further support.
In just a month and a half, the evacuees have forged a strong community, each contributing in their unique way, reminiscent of a small kibbutz. Children play on the grass, mothers share laughter, and teenagers gather in the afternoons. Even on rainy days, our campus exudes warmth.
While not all wounds can heal in such a short time, we've witnessed noticeable improvements in the evacuees' state. Our campus and team have transformed this place into a home for those most in need. We've successfully built a community in a remarkably brief period, all thanks to our exceptional people, the incredible support of over 40 volunteers, and, of course, our extraordinary guests. Yet, none of these efforts would have been possible without the generosity of our donors, supporters, and dear friends from around the world.
We extend our heartfelt gratitude to our incredible donors, especially the Jewish Federations of North America, The Givat Haviva Friends Associations worldwide, and all our private donors, for making this crucial initiative possible.
Promoting Peace and Unity: Responding to the Ongoing Crisis
Working Together for a Shared Future in Israel
After discovering the scale of the recent atrocities committed by Hamas, it is still hard to digest the fear, suffering, and horrors that we Israelis saw and will continue to see in the coming days.
In these moments of terrible shock, Israeli right-wing extremists irresponsibly have called for revenge and are trying to ignite violence within Israel between Jewish and Arab citizens. We need to remember that it was not only Jewish citizens that were affected, but Israeli Arab society is also feeling the impact from the events last weekend.
We have complex and difficult days ahead. We are committed to exercising restraint and responsibility as we respond to the extreme forces with collaborative initiatives among Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel. We maintain the partnership between us as citizens and as humans to protect ourselves and our children, to protect what we have, and to try to see the hope and the light that will rise at the end of the darkness around us.
What have we been doing to address the needs of Israeli citizens during this crisis?
As an organization with Jewish and Arab staff, Givat Haviva is navigating this situation within our community, holding space for grief, anger, anxiety, and empathy.
Our role in Israeli society is more crucial than ever.
In order to prevent violence from breaking out across the nation, we are reorienting our work to meet the needs of the current crisis. The scale of these events will change the way young Jews and Arabs relate to each other, and we need to take action now to prevent this from happening.
Here are four major initiatives we are immediately undertaking:
Givat Haviva has opened the campus to around 260 people from the Kibbutzim in the north and south.
To mitigate the possibility of Israeli Jewish extremists inciting violence, Givat Haviva has been bringing together Jewish and Arab mayors and community leaders to figure out how citizens can come together during these times instead of growing an already deep divide.
Being very vocal in the media about this crisis and will continue to be as appropriate.
We are restructuring our programs to fit the current crisis- we will send facilitators to schools to conduct educational programs while increasing teacher training capacity.
We will continue to update our supporters on programmatic initiatives and changes as we adapt to the current situation. Thank you for your prayers, financial support, and commitment to our mission. They are needed now more than ever.
Givat Haviva has developed many programs that work to connect, empower, and educate Israel's citizens while creating a space for dialogue, and reducing fear and mistrust.
We do this through cross-community projects, leading training and capacity-building activities, facilitating seminars, workshops, and conferences, and ultimately, by working to make real change happen on the ground.
FoGH supports this critical work by raising awareness of, and support for, Givat Haviva.
Who We Are
Friends of Givat Haviva is the U.S.-based nonprofit that supports and empowers Givat Haviva in Israel, an NGO that has been dedicated to bridging the gap between Israel's Jewish and Arab citizens for nearly six decades.
Givat Haviva is a civil society organization for social change associated with the Havatzelet Group. We strive to create a model society in Israel, emphasizing the importance of a Jewish and Arab shared society. Our vision for a shared society is anchored in principles of mutual respect, trust, pluralism, and intrinsic equality between citizens. We work to promote a prosperous, democratic society for all citizens of Israel, one that strives for peace with its neighbors and the solidarity of all peoples. Our programs focus on education, language instruction, culture, and art. The Jewish-Arab partnership within the organization is the foundation of Givat Haviva's unique expertise and a central value underlying our worldview and practice.
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