Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids

by American Friends of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam
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Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids
Binational School for Jewish and Palestinian kids

At the Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam Primary School, there is something that happens that is unique in Israel. Look at the recent three months  - home to the holidays (and holydays) of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. What abundance these children have to share!

          Can you imagine the learning that comes out of weeks of preparations for three such holidays? Children write their updated versions of the stories or they recreate the historic narrative. They write, they perform, they prepare foods and works of art and they share it all with the whole school, families and friends.

Beginning at the end of December with Milad a-Nabi, Hannukah and Christmas, the school’s traditions continue through Purim, Easter and Passover.  Isra’ and Miraj will have their turn in May.  When the students create a modern interpretation of a traditional story, research and explanation are part of the shared process. In the Purim recreation, Facebook and Twitter were used for some sections. For all holidays there is music, art, story and food with all children are engaged in each part whether preparing a modest meal for Passover, involving grilling potatoes on a fire and baking matzot on a griddle or putting on a red hat and beard and carrying a sack of handmade gifts for sharing. Always, for every holiday, there is the singing of traditional music.

         

What is so great about students celebrating holidays together? How about having everything in both languages, flowing easily, by all the children and the teachers?

How about having all of the children learning about each other’s traditions with depth and empathy, sharing their own family traditions and narratives, and coming to understand very different ones?

         

How about finding the values and themes that are common among these traditions and finding those universal values where we all can join in?

…and finally, how about strengthening the children’s individual identities while strengthening their  shared identity for their shared future? That’s a pretty terrific outcome for just celebrating holidays together.

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Not just slogans!

Equality, respect and acceptance of the ‘other’ are guiding principles for the first binational, bilingual and multi-cultural school in Israel, run jointly and equally by Jews and Arabs.

In a region where everything, even the olive harvest, is politicized, Palestinian and Jewish Primary School classmates picked olives together, surrounded by teachers, parents and community members. These students worked together to harvest the fruits of the dozens of olive trees planted 40 years ago and more on their school land. Hebrew and Arabic songs and conversations floated across the warm air, everyone’s olives were mixed together for the pressing. At a time when hearing others speaking Hebrew or Arabic can foster a sense of fear or of belonging, connections across language, village and history were made by these children’s parents.

The children will lead: The 6th grade class has a dream for a peaceful resolution of the conflict between the Jewish and Palestinian peoples, so they prepared a program for parents, students and friends, held in the Eisenberg Auditorium, where they spoke about the meaning of democracy and narrated key events of Yitzak Rabin’s life and tragic death. Students took turns, in Hebrew and Arabic, to voice messages of hope and peace.

We the students of Wahat al- Salam-Neve Shalom School call on everyone to strive for human unity, advance tolerance and understanding, and put an end to wars and violence.”

            “Now is the time to strengthen our determination and remind the world that a different way, based on equal coexistence, mutual respect and sharing of responsibility is possible.”

Courage can be contagious

Classroom

Instead of being dismayed by Israeli-Arab conflict outside the village, the Primary School decided to grow by 12% this fall as it welcomed a second first-grade class, with equal numbers of Israeli Palestinian and Jewish children. Plans are now in place to admit two first-grade classes each year for the next five years, effectively doubling the student body. The place where today 200 Jewish and Palestinian Israeli children live, learn and play together in Arabic and Hebrew, will grow into a community of 400 children

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Hope increases in hard times:

Amid the increased levels of mistrust and conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam’s Bilingual/Binational Primary School saw an increase in applications! An additional class of first-graders was welcomed for the opening of the 2015-2016 school year. They were greeted by the 6th graders in what has become a tradition at the Primary School.


Principal Carmella Ferber knows the power of music as a tool for peaceful dialogue, opening new pathways to learning as well as opening hearts. The opening of the school year was led by the new music teacher.

Playing the oud, he had the children singing in Hebrew and Arabic. A few weeks later, two internationally known musicians- Israeli Udi-Bar David playing cello and Palestinian Hanna Khoury, playing violin – both now living in Philadelphia, performed for the children, and then offered the children an opportunity to sing some well-known folksongs while being accompanied by world-class musicians!
Coming from a dozen towns and villages within a twenty-mile radius, every day the children return to their communities and families with the evidence that learning and living together is not only possible, it is enriching. Families begin to see their world a bit differently every day, and step by step- following the lead of their children- families, neighbors and then communities come to see the power of mutual respect and a shared future.

As a parents committee representative said on opening day,"Our school is a growing garden and you are its flowers,"

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Every year, Primary School participates in Good Deeds Day, where students and teachers focus on helping and improving the lives of others. This year, the 5th grade students, along with the help of their teachers, the Village biologist and gardener, representatives of the student environmental committee, and the NADI Director, carried out a project over the two weeks leading up to Good Deeds Day. The project set out to help the Bustan Snobar (Pine Tree) Kindergarten, an Arab kindergarten that takes care of 8 autistic children. On Good Deeds Day, everyone came together to clean up the school, paint the outer wall, place birdhouses created by PS students from recycled materials, install beautiful mosaics and wind chimes, plant flowers and other plants the 5th graders selected from the PS Greenhouse, and set up an irrigation system.
To honor the memory of both nationalities, the teachers of our Primary School conducted programs for both the Palestinian and Jewish children. Listening to each other’s stories of what it means to live together in coexistence and peace, respecting each other’s narratives, helped everyone understand the impact of the conflict. The children came together to draw pictures symbolizing what living together in peace meant to them.

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Primary School Kids
Primary School Kids

The Primary School encourages students to work with the community and reach out to others through their artistic skills. The Primary School has displayed their pieces in various art events through the years. In mid-February, the school kids, teachers and families came together to work on adding a part of themselves to the school. This was done with the help of artist Benjamin Swatez and his two colleagues Robert Markey and Shira Shvadron, who were guests at the village for a week. Everyone collaborated by preparing a mural for the school, creating a beautiful mosaic with fish and birds at the entrance of the school building and working on individual drawings. As part of the program, our pupils also selected their favorite drawings and painted it onto canvases which will be exhibited at the United Nations in New York City

Last fall, a group of German pupils and teachers visited the Primary School from a primary school in Dusseldorf called Freiherr-vom-Stein-Realschule. Both schools have been working together on class projects and communicate with each other on a regular basis. In an effort to continue expanding the children’s horizons and cross cultural relationships, the 6th grade class, accompanied by English teacher Raida, and Carmella, the principal took a trip to Germany to see how the German students spend their days learning. This exciting educational trip was a memorable experience for the 6th grade class. The trip nurtured the relationships between the two classes as well as both schools; there are already talks of expanding this class exchange to a family exchange.

Soon to be published, Dr. Alon Fragman and Dr. Aura Mor-sommerfeld have recently completed their first round of research on the Primary School bilingual educational model. The research set out to test the Arabic language proficiency of Hebrew-speakers in the Primary School, grades 2-4. The results show that the Primary School students scored as much as 50 points higher (on a scale of 100) than Israeli high school students studying Arabic. “The exposure to both Arabic and Hebrew already begins in kindergarten through elementary school, in a well-organized systematic bilingual program conducted by teachers who are familiar with second language pedagogy. This unique concept of the bilingual Arabic-Hebrew school of Neve Shalom seems to have a major effect on the acquisition process”, say Fragman and Mor-Sommerfeld.

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Project Leader:
Abir Elzowidi
Associate Director
Glendale, CA United States
$38,302 raised of $80,000 goal
 
619 donations
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