In one of his blessings, Pierre writes “All over the world, there are millions of people who serve in silence, who do good around them, who sow seeds of love and compassion, unheralded and infinitely modest about their achievements. However, they are the glue that holds our society together.” Here are two examples.

A school in Jerusalem brings Arab and Jewish kids together to boost understanding.

When the bell rings at Jerusalem’s Hand in Hand school, you hear something that’s not common in Israel: the sound of young people’s voices rising together in laughter and conversation in both Hebrew and Arabic. Israeli society is largely segregated. The separation begins at kindergarten, when Jewish and Arab children are sent to different schools and experience completely separate education “tracks” or systems. “Arabs go to Arab schools in their neighborhoods and Jews go to Jewish schools in the areas where they live,” says Nour Younis, events manager for Hand in Hand.

Hand in Hand was founded in 1998 by a group of parents who wanted their children to grow up differently. What began as two kindergarten classes in Jerusalem and Galilee has now become six campuses nationwide, with some 2,000 students. The school’s eventual goal is to create a fifth track of education within the Israeli school system. Today there are four options: Arab schools and three Jewish tracks — secular, religious and ultra-Orthodox. The students at Hand in Hand campuses are around 60% Arab and 40% Jewish. There is a waiting list of Arab children who would like to attend. Since Oct. 7 … this school has become a rare oasis of freedom for Palestinians who say they can be harassed or worse for expressing their anguish over the war. “For our students, this is a safe place, a safe environment,” says school vice principal Engie Wattad.
Source : January 23, 2024, NPR…
Image credit Hand in Hand, by permission

Wahat al-Salam / Neve Shalom (Oasis of Peace)

Wahat al-Salam – Neve Shalom (pronounced “waaḥat’ as-salaam/nevei shalom”) is Arabic and Hebrew for Oasis of Peace: is a vil¬lage of Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel ded¬icated to building justice, peace and equality in the country and the region. Situated equidistant from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-Jaffa, the community was established in 1970 by Fr. Bruno Hussar on land of the Latrun Monastery. It is a model of equality, mu¬tual respect and partnership that challenges existing patterns of racism and discrimination as well as the continued conflict. The community has established educational institutions based on its ideals and con¬ducts activities focused on social and political change. Many of the village members work in peace, justice and reconciliation projects. It has a population of 70 families and will grow to 150 families.