"I believe with all my heart that the future of our existence in this world lies in our ability to connect with different and diverse people. The Shared Language Program creates a way for this action."
-Ron Amir, Hebrew teacher at Alanhada School in Kfar Kara
Givat Haviva program participants spend time together outside
When I think about this past year, I think of the crises, tragedies, and injustices that we are witnessing in the US and abroad. With the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, political unrest in Iran, and mass shootings throughout the United States, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the suffering in the world. However, I still remain hopeful. Every single day I witness incredible acts of generosity and compassion. I see people like you take action in times of crisis to help people who are half a world away. Thank you so much for your support. I want to tell you a bit about the impact you had. This year, the Ministry of Education adopted the Cross-Sector Teacher Exchange as one of the programs they will support. This support will encourage more schools to participate, and it will make the program more accessible to schools across Israel. This academic year we have already seen schools’ interest in this program double since last year.
You have given students (and teachers) the opportunity to bridge cultural gaps, create meaningful relationships, and have honest and open conversations about political and social issues through this program.
I want to share with you a story from one of our Jewish teachers that shows the impact of this program.
Hodoya Friedman, a Jewish Teacher who taught at an Arab school
Hodaya Friedman, a Jewish teacher in an Arab school, describes a moment on a field trip when her students were waiting for the bus, and she noticed some girls from another school point at her students and whisper to each other.
“I stood there, the Jewish teacher at the Arab school, wanting to tell this girl, you don't understand, you don't know what class this is, my favorite at school, how much I wait for them all week.
How they ask the hardest and smartest questions, and their eyes sparkle with curiosity. They sit next to me during the break, they teach me Arabic; they don't give up on me until I get the most perfect guttural kh.
On the bus back, they danced and played music too loud for me, they had sand on their feet and were reliving moments from the field trip. I remembered the riots of last year, how I drove scared in the streets of Nazareth, and how I was received by students then compared to what I was experiencing now.
At the end of the school year, one of my students stood up in class and asked, "Teacher, who are you for, Israel or Palestine?"
And I looked at him, proud that he phrased the question in Hebrew.
And I answered him in the little Arabic that I knew,
"Ana ma kol hada wa kalboho tayyeb" I am for everyone whose heart is good.
My students applauded my answer.
Through limited Hebrew, but tons of goodwill, we were able to talk about the deepest things, simply, with love. I brought them into my world, pictures of my children, of the Shavuot ceremony on the kibbutz, we lit Hanukkah candles, and they opened a gate to their world, first to customs, food, music, and then also to the heart, and told me of disappointments, joys, and pains. With our partial vocabularies, we were able to express whole feelings.”
None of this would have been possible without you!
Thank you, for not just believing in a better future but for creating it.
Through moments of connection, Jewish and Arab Israelis can build trust, empathy, and compassion. Without our programs, these life-changing interactions could not happen.
I think about these students and teachers going out into the world armed with this experience.
I think about how much better prepared they will be to handle conflict and how much more empathetic they will be when interacting with someone from a different background.
These students are the future of Israel. They are future leaders and citizens who are now equipped to talk about difficult topics and to see the humanity in others. This is the future we are working toward. This is the future of peace.
Friend, we need your continued help to create this future. Together, we can build a better Israel and a better world.
You can donate now on our website, or send a check (and avoid credit card fees) to: Friends of Givat Haviva 500 7th Ave 8th floor New York, New York 10018
Director of Strategy
We would also love it if you shared these stories with your friends and family, by forwarding this email or posting it on social media.