by Sara McArdle, Kids4Peace Seattle Chapter Board Chair

On Friday, January 26, I had the pleasure of hosting my second-ever “Dialogue Dinner” in support of Kids4Peace Seattle. As a board member, one of the things that we’re invited to do (and I happily oblige!) is host an intimate fund- and/or awareness-raising event for our communities once every couple of years.

This time, eight of us gathered around two big tables in the community room at my complex in North Seattle and shared a deep, meaningful discussion about the issues that are most important to each of us. The group consisted of Muslim, Jewish, Christian and non-religious friends of mine who care deeply about the future of our nation and our youth. Most of my guests did not know each other before getting together that night.

As a special treat, I ordered a cornucopia of delights from Gorgeous George’s Mediterranean Kitchen, owned and operated by Kids4Peace friends and Jerusalem natives, George Rashed and Rula Saleh. We feasted on mouth-watering tabouli, falafal, salad, pita, hummus, babaghanouje, dolmas, makdous, grilled vegetables, salmon and chicken.

We spent the first half an hour mingling and getting to know each other a bit. Then, we sat down to eat and pondered some big questions. We gave each person around the table the space and close attention to articulate what was on their hearts and minds, without interruption.

The gist of the questions I posed to the group were: 1) With all that’s currently going on in our country and the world, how do you choose which of the numerous, deserving causes/events/activities to give your time, energy and attention to? 2) What kinds of things do you do to take good care of yourself and make sure you’re saying “no” to the things that are lower priority for you? and 3) How do you handle conversations with loved ones who see issues differently than you do? (Or, do you even get into it?) The conversation was rich and varied, and I left with some new ideas and inspiration.

K4P Dialogue Dinner at Saras 2018

Guests enjoying delicious food and rich conversation.

 

After we talked for about an hour and a half, I shared how these concepts relate to the work of Kids4Peace; in our community, we get together and regularly ask big questions about what we want to do to make a difference in our communities, how we can support each other and how we can care for ourselves in the process. Then, we take action.

So, I took action by inviting this little community of mine to give to Kids4Peace Seattle so that we can make a real difference in the issues that so many of my community care deeply about, like youth, equity and anti-oppression, nonviolence, living in greater harmony with each other and our planet, etc.

In addition to their financial generosity, I was delighted to see some of my guests exchanging contact information and brainstorming how they might collaborate together in the future on their overlapping projects and visions. These kinds of exchanges are exactly why dialogue dinners can be so powerful!

One meaningful piece of feedback I received was, “I am so nourished by the care and thought you put into whom to invite, what to eat and what questions to ask. I loved meeting such a mix of people, and really liked getting to respond to those questions.”

I highly recommend hosting a dialogue dinner for any cause you care about! (No need to ask for money, either, if that’s not a fit for you.) In a society that’s constantly busy, on the go and multi-tasking, it feels like a real treat to sit across the table from one another and be heard for what moves us deeply, as individuals.

 

Jill Levenfeld1Jill Levenfeld2Jill Levenfeld3Jill Levenfeld4Jill Levenfeld5Jill Levenfeld6

On January 14th, 80 youth from the greater Seattle area gathered for a workshop called “Make Your Voice Heard”.  It was the day before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, drawing inspiration from King to empower youth to speak up about issues they care about.

The first part of the event was an opportunity for participants to hear from three different speakers. Max Patashnik who is the Government Affairs and Community Relations Senior Manager at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle did a presentation on Judaism and Antisemitism. Jasmin Samy is the Civil Rights Director at CAIR-Washington State and she did a presentation on Islam and Islamophobia. Finally, Essam Muhammad who is a local Spoken Word Artist and Poet, and is active in the South Seattle community, performed a spoken word piece for all in attendance. This was a way to get the participants thinking about issues in the world and lead them into their breakout session. As participant Maryam said, “We may not realize it but discrimination and hate happens all around us”.

DSC_0099

In the second part of the workshop, youth had the opportunity to participate in one of four breakout sessions. The sessions were News Media, Talking About Issues You Care About, Film, and Spoken Word. Each session gave the youth a different perspective on voicing their opinions and speaking up for what they believe in. The tools that they were given could help them speak up against Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and any other issues they care about.

We heard from two participants of the Spoken Word breakout session, and they were certainly inspired. “Poetry is a way to express yourself, and it seems like something I can do after school” said Maeve. Elizabeth said “I liked the free writing, and I want to tell my friends about this”.

20180114_143101

DA8A2502

Throughout the event, participants met back at their table groups to discuss what they were finding. They talked about what this experience meant to them, Nathan said “Through the learning, I feel empowered”. To him, this event was not only about speaking up, it was about learning about other people’s view of the world. Habiba said “We should all use our voice because it is a privilege, we should use it before it’s taken away. We need to use it for ourselves, and those who don’t have a voice”. Going along with speaking up for others, Mariam said “In the world we tend to only stand up for ourselves and our friends, but we should stand up for everyone”.

To finish off the workshop, we had participants further their call to action by writing down what they want to use their voice for. It was a way to remind participants that this workshop gave them tools, but they are the real voice of change in their communities.

Untitled design

Click here to find lots more photos from our event in our Facebook Album!

Written by: Viktorina, Kids4Peace Seattle Communications Intern

by Lauren Fialkow, K4P Intern

The halls of the beautiful Brigham Young University campus, situated overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem, were bustling with families of local Christians, Muslims, and Jews.  The hundreds of people in attendance came together to honor the 15 years that Kids4Peace has been creating its community.  Each person present has been touched by the work of Kids4Peace, and watching these kids naturally playing together and parents casually laughing together demonstrated to me the power of the work being done by this community.

IMG_2928Despite the lively conversations, exciting capoeira performances, and tubs of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream consumed, the event did not ignore the stress and confusion that some of the community might have been feeling.  A typically joyous time of year surrounding Christmas, The Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, and Hanukkah, this year’s annual event came just a week after the President of the United States announced the US’s acknowledgement of Jerusalem and the capital of Israel.  At a time when many Palestinians and Israelis are processing the news and deciding how to react, many questioned why Kids4Peace would come together to celebrate at such a rough time.  

In the words of Meredith Rothbart, the Jerusalem Kids4Peace Co-Director who spoke that night, “Our work does not stop here. Not now. …It is not enough just to be together. We have to take action to influence the situation around us….It is not upon us to complete the task, or to solve all of the political turmoils of our leaders. But we cannot stop trying.”

IMG_3035The number of families in attendance was proof of the strength, mission, and unstoppable spirit of this community. When teens and parents got on stage to speak about what they’ve gained from Kids4Peace, the hope for a brighter tomorrow became very tangible.  

Many ask, what would peace look like, is it even possible?  The firsthand stories shared by students Hussam, Loure, and Nadav demonstrated an authentic relationship between friends where different backgrounds, perspectives, and opinions can’t break the trust and support they have for one another.  They spoke of getting into a heated argument regarding Jerusalem politics while having a picnic on the grass after visiting Congress in Washington DC.  They had expressed their beliefs strongly and never came to consensus, but afterwards they went “right back to being the friends that they are.”  Building a world where people come together to build relationships that look to understand the ‘other’ may seem like daunting task, but our 16-year-olds in Jerusalem are showingus that it IS possible, what it looks like, and how to do it.

I found the energy and friendships of these teens so inspiring, but I was equally blown away by the parents and their stories.  We heard from two fathers, a Muslim Palestinian, Maher, and an orthodox Jewish Israeli, Yisrael.  We often look to the younger generation to build peace because it’s perceived that the older generations have too many scars from past conflicts and are too set in their ways of being.  

DSC_9039Because of this, the genuine sensitivity, respect and care that these fathers had for each other was incredibly moving but also undeniable as they embraced–standing with their arms around each other–and told the story of how they met, initial expectations and what that relationship grew into.  Maher spoke of how touched he was by Yisrael’s thoughtfulness when he brought a gift on his first visit to Maher’s neighborhood.  You could see in their eyes and by their enthusiasm that they were speaking from the heart, that their perceptions were changed through experiences with Kids4Peace and that they felt gratitude for these new relationships and cultural discoveries.

Kids4Peace has a few catch-phrases and “hashtags” like “Together Peace is Possible” and #KeepHopeAlive.  When hundreds of members of a movement for peace come together to celebrate, share stories, and bridge gaps—despite the political volatility of the time—it’s clear that Kids4Peace’s work stands for itself and by just talking to some members it’s easy to see how together peace is indeed possible and how this community is absolutely keeping hope alive.

by Jordan Goldwarg, Kids4Peace Director of Chapter Development

On Saturday, October 28, a group of friends gathered in a home in Seattle for dinner. They came together for a facilitated discussion about this question: What is one thing that is frustrating you right now about our city/country/world? What in your personal experience makes you care about this thing? How are you acting on those frustrations (if at all)?

The hosts of the dinner, Emily Patton and Matt Oppenheimer, are longtime supporters of Kids4Peace. They value the work that Kids4Peace does to build a community of interfaith youth peace leaders, but they were also looking for the opportunity to have their friends experience the magic of Kids4Peace. This led them to invite people to dinner to see for themselves the power of the honest dialogue that Kids4Peace helps facilitate.

After an hour of conversation about the night’s question, the evening culminated with the creation of Team Oppily (a combination of “Oppenheimer” and Emily”), a Kids4Peace giving circle. A giving circle is a group of friends who come together to support a cause in a variety of ways. Financial support can be an important aspect of a giving circle, but Team Oppily will also be giving to Kids4Peace through things such as providing snacks for youth meetings, mentoring youth through sharing their experiences during K4P meetings, and helping to set up for larger K4P events.

image1

The first gathering of Team Oppily!

 

Team Oppily is also pooling financial resources to provide a matching challenge for Kids4Peace’s year-end fundraising efforts in Seattle. They will match up to $1500 in year-end gifts, essentially allowing people to double the power of their contributions.

“All of us have experienced frustrating things in our lives,” said Emily. “While some people may resort to hopelessness, I am continually inspired by the youth and adults involved in Kids4Peace. I talk about the program all the time, so I wanted to find a way to have my closest circle of people reach a more comprehensive understanding of Kids4Peace, too. It was a really meaningful evening and I’m so grateful for our friends who were able to attend the dinner and commit to giving of their time and resources.”

We thank Emily, Matt, and all of Team Oppily for their commitment to building peace in our communities! If you are interested in starting a Kids4Peace giving circle, please contact Jordan Goldwarg, Director of Chapter Development, at jordan@k4p.org.

On Sunday, October 22, 2017, youth in Seattle and Cincinnati gathered with their communities for an afternoon of learning and friendship. Here is just a little taste of what the day held for everyone!

In Seattle…

Our October meeting was busy! Chances are we all left feeling a little overwhelmed, but in the best possible way. The school year is shaping up to be full of continued learning, advocacy work, planning and running workshops for other youth in the community, diving deeper into case studies of conflict, critically examining current events, and so much more!

DSC_0940

DSC_0903

Some highlights:

Our 10th graders, fresh from spending part of their summer in Washington DC, are taking on some local advocacy work with the De-Escalate Washington Campaign.

Our 9th graders are spending the year preparing for their trip to Washington DC next summer. They will be continuing to hone their leadership skills and deepen their understanding of advocacy. We started out their preparation with a crash course in the structure of the United States Government! The 9th graders will also be working together to plan and implement a workshop for younger youth later in the year, a workshop that will share some of the core messages of our work in Kids4Peace!

Our middle school students began the year critically examining some stories of conflict that we find in the sacred scripture of our religious traditions. This began their journey of exploring conflicts from around the world in preparation for heading to International Camp next summer with youth from both the United States and Jerusalem.

DSC_0912

Finally, we all worked together to begin planning our upcoming holiday celebrations – a time when our whole community can come together and share about our personal family traditions and the holidays we celebrate throughout the year. Our youth were excited to serve as party planners for this event and we can’t wait to celebrate together at our first event on November 4th!

In Cincinnati…

What do eight campers, twelve staff members, 40 plants, and one arching tree all have in common? Kids4Peace, of course! The Cincinnati chapter gathered on Sunday for a tree planting ceremony in Cincinnati’s historic cemetery, Spring Grove Cemetery. Having purchased a ‘peace plot’ earlier this year, participants were able to plant some seeds and saplings in the ground, leaving a remnant of their work and love for K4P.

After two months of being apart, the community came together with families and staff to celebrate the season of fall. It was a gorgeous day for planting. With running and jumping embraces youth greeted old friends who they had not seen since August. Shouts and laughter were exchanged over bags of chips and trowels. Hands and knees were strained, digging and planting in the soft ground. A lovely time was had.

IMG_5611

After the participants finished planting—dandelions, roses, sunflowers and one large tree—we gathered together for a tree-planting service to make the day more sacred. Bible verses, poetry, and prayers from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam were shared and chanted. Songs were sung; and cheers were shouted.

PeacegardenF10222017DSC_0969_edited-1

The day was wrapped up with a historical tour of the cemetery. The campers got an up close look at some of the monuments and mausoleums. Some even got close to the swans and snails that lined the lakes and ponds’ surfaces. It was a day of becoming close with another and with nature. Our community remains strong, as we continue to grow together from the same root. What an exciting day it was!

IMG_5622

The Cincinnati chapter will get together again in just two weeks on November 10th to worship with the Islamic Center in Westchester, Ohio.

For more photos from these events see the Seattle or Cincinnati Facebook page!

Posted by: Viktorina, Kids4Peace Seattle Communications Intern

On October 8th, 2017, 25 youth participants gathered at the University of Washington to explore some of the differences that can divide us. More importantly, participants and facilitators worked together to strategize how we can overcome difference and step out of our comfort zone to get to know others that we encounter in our daily lives.

The Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS) and OneWorld Now! (OWN) brought activities and wisdom from their experiences working with diverse youth, joining Kids4Peace Seattle to organize this workshop, which drew youth from around the Greater Seattle area.

dsc_0765-e1507597830297.jpg

As the middle and high school participants gathered they had the opportunity to engage in different activities. From exploring the different religious traditions to being introduced to the many ways to say “hello” around the world, participants began actively thinking about the things that divide us, and their own reactions to these things. The participants became conscious about differences in age, culture, gender, and more, before moving into deeper learning about languages with OWN and cultural differences with FIUTS.

DSC_0759

 

Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a person in a language they understand, that goes to their head. If you talk to a person in their language, that goes to their heart.” As youth began their breakout session with OWN, participants got the hang of phrases in Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, and French, learning a variety of survival phrases like “Hi, Bye, Yes, No, Thank You, Where is the Bathroom, etc”. Not only did they learn to communicate by speaking, they learned how to communicate with their actions.

This exploration of language introduced the youth to challenges they may face when meeting different people. As this session came to a close, youth reflected on the importance of language as a means of connecting with people across language barriers, and began to build empathy and deeper understanding as they encounters others in the future.

DSC_0857

The breakout session with FIUTS began by assigning a few people in the group a specific behavior. Because some of these behaviors were a little bit silly, this immediately broke the ice and began a deep discussion on what it is like when your actions, specifically the ones rooted in your culture, are misunderstood by those around you. Using the analogy of an iceberg, youth explored the 20 percent of culture that is visible above the surface, and the other 80 percent hidden under the water. The fact that you may only see a small part of a person requires the often difficult work of digging deeper to become aware of the things that make them unique.

DSC_0859

As the event came to a close, whether it meant telling a friend about what they had learned, writing a story for their school newspaper, or posting on social media some of their takeaways (#dialogueacrossdifference), all of the participants were challenged to find a way to take action in the coming week!

Just as we asked all of our youth participants, how can you be inspired to engage in conversation with someone who is different than you?

Written by: Viktorina, Kids4Peace Seattle Communications Intern

Tareq Samman

Jerusalem native and Brandeis alum joins Kids4Peace staff

Kids4Peace is excited to welcome Tareq Samman as Co-Director of the Jerusalem office.  A Palestinian Muslim originally from the Wadi Joz neighborhood of Jerusalem, Tareq will be responsible for all youth, parent, and community programs.

For 14 years, Tareq was a public school teacher in Kufr Aqab and then pursued masters degrees in Coexistence/Conflict Resolution and Sustainable International Development from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.

He has been a volunteer with the Interreligious Coordinating Council of Israel and was a facilitator and seminar leader for Auburn Seminary’s interfaith youth program Face to Face, Faith to Faith.

Tareq has taught Hebrew to Palestinians and Arabic to Israeli students. He considers language a tool of communications and bridging the gap between the two people.  Tareq lives in Shuafat and has been working with Kids4Peace this summer as part of his graduate school program.

I am very grateful for being given this opportunity to work with youth, as well as to be a member of Kids4Peace in order to achieve a positive change in our city. There is a lot of work to be done regarding support for the Palestinian community, and other communities in Jerusalem. I strive for Kids4Peace to expand, and to one day have a chance to include all Arab and Jewish children in our efforts.  – Tareq Samman

c3c14a_2fb17a0a960346c9a62903567a5ef0f5

Meredith Rothbart

Tareq will work alongside Meredith Rothbart, who will continue permanently as the other Co-Director of the Kids4Peace Jerusalem office.  Meredith is primarily responsible for external relations, communications, fundraising, and strategic development.

Meredith Rothbart moved to Jerusalem in 2007, and joined Kids4Peace as a volunteer in 2009. She holds an MA in Community Development from Hebrew University and a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from University of Pittsburgh.

Meredith’s previous work includes government relations, project management and communications with NGOs, the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and other government agencies, including projects at the grassroots level as well as national and international initiatives. She lives in East Talpiyot with her husband and children.

In honor of the United Nations International Day of Peace, celebrated annually on September 21st, youth in Kids4Peace Seattle share their reflections on peace:

“Peace is the acceptance of others in all communities across the world.”

–Jacob, 10th Grade

Dialogue - Three Photos

“Life is a constant battle for peace. Those who choose to advocate are the warriors.”

–Tallulah, 10th Grade

IMG-20170720-WA0021

“Peace is the bridge between anger and love.”

–Alex, 9th Grade

20161125_120347

“We can find peace everywhere, we just have to look.”

–Annabelle, 8th Grade

This past spring, youth from Seattle shared about their experiences in KidsPeace. Together they shared their story about the meaning and impact of this work in their lives and in their communities. As you hear their story in the video below, we invite you to reflect on your own stories and definitions of peace.

We truly believe that together, peace is possible.

Kids4Peace Cincinnati

“It’s a revolutionary concept when you think about it which is to create tolerance at an early age and even, I would call it, passion or love for each other’s faiths and backgrounds, is huge.”
-Jacob Young, Counselor 2016

Passion for others experience flourished at the Kids4Peace Day Camp in Cincinnati, Ohio. This harmony amongst the campers was birthed from what Ryan Houston, a reporter with The Now Cincinnati who spent a day with the campers, calls a goal of showing the campers “we’re not all that different after all”. Jack, a camper, certainly found this to be true, noting that “we’re actually very similar,… and we worship one God, and actually the same God too.” Learning of these crucial similarities has helped Jack to also feel like he “has more empathy for other people of different ethnicities.” Another camper Jocelyn, a rising seventh grader from Wilmington, has had her perspective shaped since learning more about other faith tradition as well, finding she can now “see out more into the world the troubles that each religion is facing”. Upon visiting a Jewish House of Worship, the Adath Israel Synagogue, Katie, a rising seventh grader from Wyoming, discovered a significant similarity between the Jewish service and her own faith community “in that they teach you to be nice to one another and make the world a better place”.

However, being nice was put to the test as the campers formed a Human Knot- an activity in which campers stand in a circle and join hands until a monstrous lump of intertwined limbs remains. The challenge: become unraveled. As one can likely guess and as Lourdes, a rising seventh grader from Cincinnati, can confirm, everyone was “laughing all about it while they were stuck”. Lourdes found the moments of laughter to be quite meaningful- “At least we were laughing!” However, between the laughing and the “relief of finishing it and successfully getting untangled” lies quite a bit of hard work and communication. Kai, a rising eighth grader from Cincinnati, actually relished the teamwork, and seeing that “everybody was working together” was his favorite thing about the activity.

That teamwork led to the formation of trust in the community: Lourdes had to “trust that DSC_8608they care about me being stuck like they do”, Kai still had to trust that they would eventually be untangled “even though they realized they had an impossible knot.” A little trust goes a long way. Especially for Noura, to whom her fellow campers “are very important”. She trusts them, for “they treat her like family”. This being her second year in the program, returning to camp felt like “oh, we’re back home”. And for Noura, who has experienced discrimination at school, and many others, a loving community helps with facing the world each day.

Luckily, these campers seem ready to lead change in their many communities following camp. Jocelyn was inspired by learning some of Jesus’ Parables from the Christian faith. Particularly, the stories of the mustard seed and Good Samaritan have helped her to realize she “can help anybody no matter what the cause and no matter how small of an idea I have, I can grow it into a larger one.” Being the only Jewish person at her school, she seeks to “share and teach people about her own faith,” much like the mustard seed.

Isaac, a rising seventh grader from Milford, feels prepared to create change after learning more about Islam. Gaining more knowledge “makes him more aware of what they do, so that I can become a better friend to those who have been bullied”. He also seeks to bring peace by following the commandments of Judaism such as “giving tzedaka to the poor, treating your neighbor with respect, and loving all creatures”.

Wali feels empowered as a part of the Kids4Peace community, believing “it’s really great that kids do” the program, for “adults don’t always want to stray away from” the engrained intolerance passed down through generations. “But kids, they usually have a more open mind.”

These campers are already fulfilling the goal as described by Judy Chamberlain: “to build peace, one person at a time.”

Contributors: Isaac (7th grade, Milford), Jack (8th grade, Cincinnati), Jocelyn (7th grade, Wilmington), Kai (8th grade, Cincinnati), Katie (7th grade, Wyoming), Lourdes (7th grade, Cincinnati), Noura (8th grade, Cincinnati)

Written by: Emily Combs, US Media Coordinator

DSC_8902