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From our Executive Director
Dear Friends and Partners,
This is the month of Ramadan. Here at Givat Haviva, its blessed spirit was a noticeable presence this year.
For the first time, we held an Iftar (Ramadan break the fast) dinner at Givat Haviva. This meal symbolized the great blessings of the deep partnerships forged in our region and in our country through the Shared Communities program.
Our Muslim friends broke their fast together with many Jewish, Christian, and Druze friends and partners. Three hundred people from the Shared Communities in the Wadi Ara region sat down together for a meal expressing our connection and gratitude and the great value of our ability to learn from one another, expanding and enriching our cultural and spiritual worlds.
The event, led by Riad Kabha and the team from the Jewish Arab Center for Peace, opened with a fascinating welcome from the Minister of Religious Affairs, Dudu Azoulay from Shas. This is Shared Society at its best: Shasniks alongside kibbutzniks, Muslims alongside Jews, stirring blessings from the Greek Orthodox Priest from Saknin and the Muslim Qadi from Kfar Kara. All feasting together and celebrating the diversity that builds hope.
We were blessed this month to be a host and a driving force for many other Iftar meals that took place at Givat Haviva, of joint working teams and shared communities celebrating their partnership during this special month.
Yaniv Sagee
Executive Director, Givat Haviva
Representatives from Givat Haviva, led by Executive Director Yaniv Sagee, joined the March for Equality led by Yeroham mayor Michael Biton with the heads of many other peripheral cities and councils in Israel, calling on the government for equal apportionment of resources for education and welfare in Israel’s periphery. In his speech to the assembly at Bet Shemesh, Yaniv noted that Arab mayors and council heads could not participate in the march, due to the Ramadan fast, however as director of Givat Haviva who works with Arab municipality heads in our Shared Communities program, he represents our Arab friends and partners in this call for equality.
Our festive Iftar dinner, organized by a team from the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace for our friends in the Arab and Jewish communities in neighboring countries, was open to the public, held under the full moon of the lunar month of Ramadan. The event was exciting, festive, dignified, and full of good spirits. Hundreds of guests came to the table – a response beyond expectations from our guests and partners in Givat Haviva’s extensive activities – and good food was plentiful for all.
Among the Jewish and Arab guests were council members of the partner municipalities, mayors and council heads, steering committee leaders, notables, participants from our many courses, and Givat Haviva staff. Among the guests of honor who spoke at the event were Minister of Religious Affairs David Azoulay, Qadi Iyad Zahalka of Kafr Kara, head of the Muslim Sharia courts, Menashe Council head Ilan Sadeh, mayor of Baka al Garbiyeh Mursi Abu Moch, Reverend Father Salah Khouri, Greek Orthodox Priest of Sakhnin, junior high school principal Ms. Noel Kana'ane from Kafr Kara, local government representative Pini Kefalu and more. We also heard from Anat, representing the teachers in Givat Haviva’s Hebrew Enrichment Program for Arab Schools.
After blessings were read by Yaniv Sagee, Riad Kabha, Director of the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace, awarded certificates of appreciation to the heads of Zimmer and Emek Hefer Councils as the newest pair to join Givat Haviva’s Shared Communities flagship program.
Megiddo – Maale Iron: The forum leading the partnership, including both council heads and all the members of the various teams, met for a seminar on developing a vision. The teams worked to sharpen their vision of future they toward which they will work.
Menashe – Baka el Garbiya: The environment forum is continuing work on the Neighbors’ Path. In the next step, the route will be marked and signs placed noting various points of interest along the way, including activities for children and adults.
Zemer – Emek Hefer: Following the seminar that closed the initial stage of the partnership, the steering committee began creating work plans in a number of areas: community, formal and informal education, environmental issues, and joint economic development, including construction of a joint industrial area and expansion of employment opportunities for both communities.
Another new joint initiative involving the new pair is being led by the management of the Emek Hefer Industrial Park, Yoram Cohen and Itay Levin from the center for significant learning, the Givat Haviva Education Department, and the principals and representatives from the junior high schools “Ma’ayan Shahar” and “Alhanda”. The project will be a pilot for 50 8th grade students in the two schools during the coming school year, when they will take part in an interactive learning game incorporating an imaginary dilemma relating to the fate of the students and community residents. We see this pilot as the beginning of an interesting and original activity, which will instill values important to us as citizens of a single country.
June brings the end of the school year, with end-of-the-year wrap-up activities for the old year, and preparations for the coming year. The Children Teaching Children pairs met for the last time this month, and preparations are being made with the schools for next year. The schools were pleased with the program, and also expressed a desire for more meetings and strengthening connections of the pairs. We are planning for the addition of two more pairs in 2016-2017.
The final two preparatory meetings of the Heart to Heart Delegation to Canada were held this month, including one meeting for the children’s parents. The children’s meeting focused on putting together a joint Jewish-Arab day that the delegation is organizing for the summer camp they will attend, to give the other campers a taste of Israeli society.
Other activity this month of the Educational department focused on recruiting schools for our one- and two-day Youth Encounter Seminars next year. There has been a large response, and we expect to host thousands of high school students in our seminars next year. Department heads Samer Atamneh and Shimrit Biton-Semo have also been busy working with the bureaus of education in our newest pair of Shared Communities, Zemer-Emek Hefer, as well as those of Jisr-a-Zarka and Hof Hacarmel toward implementing our programs in their schools.
The Bara’em Hi-Tech Seeds students finished their classwork in their second course, Object Oriented Programming, and are busy preparing for the final exam at the Netanya Academic College. After this, they will begin their summer semester to complete the first year in the program. Registration is also underway for next year, which will commence in October. In this program, promising Arab and Jewish high school students from the region study together to complete college-level courses toward a degree in computer science. This is parallel to army sponsored programs that are not open to Arab students. The Arab students also receive enrichment courses in Hebrew language, to improve their readiness for coursework and eventual employment.
The last Special Hebrew Language Day of the year in the Yihye B’seder - Hebrew Language Enrichment for Arab Schools program was held in the Bartaa junior high school. Seventh graders sang “Shir L’Ahava” (a song of love), and eighth graders gave speeches and spoke of how much they enjoy the special Hebrew lessons they attend through the program. At the end of the day, the students took part in a workshop in which they tried their hand at juggling and walking on stilts, all in Hebrew, of course. Their teacher, Dorit, noted, “They needed to use Hebrew, but it was combined with unique activities that the students experienced for the first time in their lives.”
As summer begins, the Givat Haviva staff is gearing up for this year’s Soccer for Peace camp for 100 Arab and Jewish boys from the region. The German embassy generously donated official team jerseys for the camp. In the photo, Executive Director Yaniv Sagee, Jewish-Arab Center for Peace Director Riad Kabha, one of the counselors and three kids from the camp receive the shirts from Deputy Ambassador Monika Iwersen at the German embassy in Tel Aviv. The camp will take place at the Givat Haviva campus August 8-11.
The Annual Ceramics Exhibition at the Givat Haviva Art Center opened on June 29. The exhibition includes five hundred pieces of ceramic art, the result of the year’s work in the ceramic studio by 120 artists. The exhibition will remain on display at the Givat Haviva Arts Center for one month, until July 30th. At the same time, registration is underway for five summer art marathon classes on a variety of topics, including ceramics, art from recycled materials, and sculpting with wire, as well as a rich offering of innovative classes for the fall.
The English speakers finished their semester at our Arabic Studies Institute with a delicious and enjoyable Iftar meal for the students and the teaching team. As one of the teachers said, “In learning the language, you have opened a gate for yourselves to Arab culture around the world, and you have joined our family.” Immediately following the end of the course, the students set out for a tour of Jordan, where they had many new experiences, participated in Iftar meals, and, most importantly, spoke Arabic throughout the trip.
Once again this has been a very busy month for the International Department with groups or individuals from all continents: Asia, Africa, North and South America, Europe and Australia! North American students and young professionals in Israel with Birthright-Taglit were the largest number from any one country, but Germany was well represented with journalists, educators, students and a group of Protestant ministers who are members of a Christian-Jewish dialogue organization.  A 2-day seminar for volunteers in kibbutzim brought together young people from no less than 15 countries, and a large group of young West Bank Palestinians meeting with Jewish and Arab youth from Israel over a weekend also came under the auspices of the International Department.
We continue to live up to our reputation of providing seminars and tours for very diverse groups of adults, students, teens and families from all over the world, ensuring that Givat Haviva’s educational messages and high hopes for a shared society in Israel and beyond are carried to far flung corners of the globe.
Left: North American Hasbara Fellowship students get acquainted through an International Department tour with the Green Line, Security Fence and the Shaked Jewish settlement block in the northern West Bank and right:
Right: German Protestant pastors at the Givat Haviva Peace Pole and library.
Copyright © 2016 Givat Haviva, All rights reserved.

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