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November Newsletter: Resilience in Action on Givat Haviva's Campus

Updated: Nov 22, 2023


A message from CEO Michal Sella

Dear Friends,

After enduring a month and a half of mourning, fear, and pain, the distressing situation we are collectively facing as a society seems to have settled into a routine. Over the past month, approximately 50 families have found refuge at Givat Haviva's campus, becoming an integral part of our community alongside the students and staff of Givat Haviva's schools.

In these past few weeks we have witnessed attempts to organize daily life amidst the shadows of conflict. Academic institutions are grappling with the challenge of resuming studies and effectively integrating a diverse mix of Jewish-Arab students. Schools are reopening, seeking guidance on managing diverse teaching staff and addressing students' fears. Simultaneously, businesses and employers are navigating how to maintain diverse teams while serving the Israeli customer base.

These moments, inseparably linked to the war, grief, and our collective Israeli experience, resonate deeply with our mission. The imperative challenges of fostering trust and civil relationships within Israel between Jews and Arabs, particularly as Arab society grapples with silence and fear while Jewish society faces an unprecedented level of uncertainty, will be our primary focus in the coming years.

We are adjusting our strategies wherever possible to positively influence morale, uphold peace within Israel, and diminish the impact on Jewish-Arab relations among us. This encompasses efforts within Givat Haviva, within our schools, in collaboration with local leadership, and notably within the education system. Our objective is to lay the groundwork for rebuilding fractured trust between citizens and our country's institutions post-war. We aspire to reinstate a sense of security for Jews and Arabs alike, ensuring that everyone feels equally valued, indispensable, and, above all, welcomed by our nation.

Michal Sella

Executive Director

מיכל סלע מנכ"לית

ميخال سيلع مديرة عامة


We opened our Hearts and Pockets to Provide Support on Campus for Evacuees

Jessie Colton, director of the Givat Haviva campus, took office just weeks before the outbreak of the war in Gaza. She swiftly became the driving force behind the campaign to host and support families displaced from Otef Gaza (the area surrounding Gaza) and later from the northern border.

"On that day, my team and I received constant calls from people seeking refuge and shelter," she recalls. "The mobilization and dedication were immediate and a collaborative effort among both Jewish and Arab staff at Givat Haviva. Within a month, we established a sort of small town. Volunteers arrived and promptly set up a comprehensive psychological support system. We opened a kindergarten, tended to all needs from laundry services to beauty treatments and holistic therapies, and even inaugurated a café. Our shared art center promptly engaged in the mission, expanding swiftly to four different areas, including pottery, painting, and various workshops with a team of volunteer artists beyond the usual staff."

"Crucially, the foundation for this effort was the involvement of the Hashomer Hatzair community and the alumni movement," Colton adds. "From day one, we operated in perfect synergy, enabling us to provide extensive support to evacuees."

"Our objective from the outset was to minimize feelings of vulnerability and instability among the evacuees and cultivate activities promoting self-reliance to help them navigate this challenging situation," explains Colton. "We formed committees covering all aspects of life and appointed family representatives. It's evident that in every project on the campus, the evacuees actively participate and contribute, driven by their enthusiasm and commitment."

"One of the most moving moments for me," she recounts, "was the ceremony we organized in memory of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Despite hosting families from diverse sectors with differing political views, the youth showed tremendous enthusiasm to actively participate in the ceremony."

Unlike typical reception centers or hotels, Givat Haviva serves as more than just a temporary accommodation. Each day, we witness the resilience of our community, fostering hope!


Brief Updates

Givat Haviva staff with german ambassador in front of the joint art gallery

We had the privilege of hosting the German Ambassador to Israel, Mr. Steffen Seibert, at Givat Haviva. He met with Givat Haviva's management, engaged with representatives of evacuee families, and toured the facilities involved in hosting and supporting families displaced since the beginning of the conflict, both from the South and the North.


Members of the Knesset from the Yesh Atid and Yisrael Beiteinu parties, namely Vladimir Beliak, Yorai Lahav-Hertzano, Sheli Miron, and Yaron Levy, visited Givat Haviva. They interacted with displaced families and gained insights into life at Givat Haviva over the past month, and the complexities faced by those hastily leaving their homes due to the war. Additionally, they met with the staff of the International School to learn the ways in which Jewish and Arab students successfully study and live together at Givat Haviva during wartime. Uzi Shmuel, CEO of HABITZALAH, and Ilan Sadeh, Head of the Menashe Regional Council, joined the visit.


In collaboration with the youth movement AJYAL, the Jewish-Arab Center at Givat Haviva organized a special meeting with AJYAL's youth leaders. The meeting focused on the role of youth leaders in emergencies, providing tools to guide youth during crises.


Mohammed Darawshe, Director of Strategy at Givat Haviva, and Yuval Devir, Director of the International School at Givat Haviva, delivered a lecture to around 180 Arab students beginning their academic studies at universities and colleges in Israel. The lecture was organized by the Alrowwad Association, which focuses on promoting higher education in Arab society, covering preparedness for the current situation, familiarity with Israeli society, and coping strategies within academic frameworks.


In the News

An Arab-Israeli Paramedic Was Killed on Oct. 7. His Cousin Strives for Peace | Amanpour and Company

Mohammed Darawshe, Director of Strategy at Givat Haviva, discussed the complex and sensitive position of Arab citizens in an interview with CNN, highlighting Givat Haviva’s role in resolving and constructing a shared and equitable society in Israel.

'Arabs in Israel face systematic persecution, fear to show support,' an opinion article by Michal Sella, CEO of Givat Haviva, on the Mako website.

Mohammad Darawshe quoted in New York Times article 'Between Israelis and Palestinians, a Lethal Psychological Chasm Grows'

Mohammed Darawshe, Director of Strategy at Givat Haviva, was interviewed on Radio 100FM.

(In Hebrew)

Check out our "in the media" page to read more: Click Here


Givat Haviva's Jewish Arab Center for Peace

Supporting Shared Society Educators

During these challenging times, we are all seeking sources of strength. To provide immediate support to our communities and educators, we organized a session with the Joint Learning Organization and Abraham Initiatives, a thought-provoking gathering for civil society organization leaders and advocates for a shared society.

Together, we concluded that there is a significant need for a platform promoting shared dialogue encompassing the personal, collective, and professional spheres, providing tools to cope and draw strength from the crisis.

The inaugural webinar in the series, facilitated by Dr. Noa Walden, a social and educational psychologist, and Natasha Obolski, a social psychologist from Akko, delved into understanding psychological responses and guiding principles influencing our coping strategies during this period.

The second webinar featured Dr. Amjad Musa, a senior psychologist specializing in diagnosing and treating trauma with unique models tailored for Arab society. In this session, which drew more than 100 attendees, participants acquired additional tools to fortify mental resilience.

The webinar series, which offers knowledge and practical tools to educators, is conducted online, free of charge, and is open for registration.

Learning day: How to Cultivate Resilience in Crisis

The employment sector within Arab society has been a focal point in recent years for both governmental and third-sector entities. The economic integration of Arab citizens into the Israeli economy has been and continues to be a pivotal objective for shared economic and social growth, encompassing both Jewish and Arab communities.

Due to the ongoing war, new, unfamiliar challenges have emerged in the realm of integrating Arab citizens into the job market. Currently, around 40 active organizations are grappling with this sector, navigating the new reality. In this context, the Jewish-Arab Center at Givat Haviva, in collaboration with The Joint Distribution Committee, organized a distinctive learning day aimed at offering guidance and space for fresh perspectives for all organizations involved in promoting employment in Arab society.


Givat Haviva International School

With approximately 100 students from the Arab society, the Jewish community, and various countries worldwide, the school has resumed its studies and communal life. After a few quiet weeks, the campus once again resonates with the sounds of students engaged in studies, laughter, conversations, and communal activities. Nothing compares to the blessed daily routine of classes, clubs, sports, and community activities, providing everyone with a sense of sanctuary around the campus.

The dedicated staff at the school is tirelessly working towards reestablishing the study routine while conducting daily dialogue sessions with the students, offering all students the opportunity to express their emotions and thoughts in this challenging time. Additionally, students at the school volunteer with displaced families residing on the campus.

The current situation has piqued the interest of numerous families considering joining the school in the forthcoming academic year. Students entering 10th and 11th grades next year, eager for more information and to schedule a tour in the school, are encouraged to contact Yardenah Specter, Student Recruitment Manager, at 052-3270727.


Joint Art Center

The Joint Art Center and Givat Haviva Gallery are delighted to invite you to view the digital art sale of 'Art with Dawn,' supporting artists affected by the events of October 7th and the subsequent conflict.

The sale featured hundreds of artworks by leading Israeli and international artists encompassing a variety of mediums and styles, catering to diverse price ranges. You can view the artworks online at

We have curated a collection of over 600 artworks with exceptionally varied prices, ensuring accessibility for everyone to find a piece of art that resonates emotionally and is within reach financially. We are profoundly moved by the voluntary participation of artists in this significant initiative and perceive it as an opportunity to express our gratitude to them.

We invite you to bring art into your homes and uplift your spirits. By doing so, you'll bring joy to many other hearts as well.

This art sale marks the inaugural action of Israel's Art at Dawn Foundation – a newly established foundation dedicated to facilitating recovery, rehabilitation, and continued artistic activity following the events of October 7th and its aftermath.


Shared Art Gallery

Ahuva Livneh, Destruction of the Temple, 2023. Various shades of ceramic material.

Photo: Tal Bedrak

The 'Feel at Home' exhibition, launched in September 2023, delves into the concepts of where and how one can find belonging in present-day Israel.

Following the tragic events of October 7th, the exhibition takes on deeper dimensions while also providing solace and comfort to visitors at the activity center established for displaced families.

We extend an invitation to visit Givat Haviva. The exhibition explores the seemingly straightforward yet particularly intricate question inherent in Israeli society: Where can we truly feel at home?

Curators: Avner Zinger and Anat Lidoror

Participating Artists:

Michal Alon, Dudi Bikal, Michal Gavoa, Leonid Gusin, Avner Zinger, Nitzan Yolzari, Ahuva Livneh, Michal Niv, Atel Pisarf, Hadas Provizor, Roti Kaplen, Moshe Rouas, Rachel Rosner, Jana Shimunov, Leon Sharkeya.

The exhibition has been extended and will remain open until December 16, 2023.

Opening Hours: Sun-Thu 9:00-14:00, Sat 10:00-14:00


We want to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped us by donating, liking, sharing our Facebook posts, and sending our updates to friends and family. Your support is greatly appreciated and needed as we work towards a more peaceful future.


Sadie Baker-Wacks

Development Coordinator

(212) 989-9272 (ext. 3)

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