Last Thursday, Muslim, Christian & Jewish youth, families and staff gathered at Kol Haneshama, the reform synagogue in Jerusalem, for Kids4Peace’s second annual winter event. More than 250 members of the Kids4Peace community came together from neighborhoods across East & West Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Leaders from the three religions opened the event with blessings.
Rabbi Michael Melchior, a former Member of the Knesset and leading religious voice for peace, spoke about the biblical story of Joseph. At first, he said, Joseph dreamed only of himself — believing that the world revolved around him. But Joseph learned to “listen to other people’s dreams,” and to let go of the desire to crush all the others. In the end, Joseph became an interpreter of dreams, and the dreams changed. “We are not destined to fight and kill each other,” he told the group. “The time has come” to give up dreams of crushing the other side. The time has come for peace.
Shaykh Hussein offered a teaching on peace from Islam. He emphasized the need to love and help others, and for Muslims to live together with Jew and Christians. “If you hurt someone from another religion,” he said, “it’s the same as hurting someone from your own.” And Pastor Ibrahim Azar of the Lutheran Church retold the story of Mary and Joseph, and named peace as the true meaning of Christmas.
The Jerusalem Youth Chorus of the international YMCA was up next. This group of teenagers from East &West Jerusalem spread the message of peace with songs in Hebrew (Hine Ma Tov) and Arabic (Adinu). They closed with a rousing version of Philip Phillips‘ song “Home.” The words of the song touched the heart of our community, since many youth and families find a “second home” in Kids4Peace.
“Don’t pay no mind to the demons / They fill you with fear / The trouble it might drag you down / If you get lost, you can always be found / Just know you’re not alone / Cause I’m going to make this place your home”
Kids4Peace’s Executive Director Fr. Josh Thomas was visiting from the United States. Along with the Jerusalem Steering Committee, he led a time of appreciations, where we honored our most senior Kids4Peace staff, present and past:
- Hanan Abu Dalu, Muslim advisor and Coordinator
- Zoubaida Salman, Muslim advisor and Coordinator
- Arwa Hussein, Muslim advisor and Coordinator
- Yakir Englander, Director, Kids4Peace Jerusalem
- Steve Israel, Co-Director of first year programs, Facilitator
- Samar Musarsa, Christian advisor and Coordinator
- Ramia Saleh, Christian advisor
- Rula Saleh, Christian advisor, Coordinator, Logistics director
- Saed Mashal, Muslim advisor and Coordinator
- Jill Levenfeld, Jewish advisor and Coordinator
- Naomi Sullum, Jewish advisor and Co-Director of Continuation & Leadership programs
- Reeham Subhi, Muslim advisor and Co-Director of Continuation & Leadership programs
The staff is made up of dedicated educators from Jewish, Christian and Muslim backgrounds. They work together as interfaith teams, to provide year-round programs for parents and youth. With their partners in the USA, they co-lead international summer camps.
Activity Stations, Community Service Project & Raffle
Co-Directors Mohammad Joulany and Rebecca Sullum announced a new community service partnership with Haddassah Hospital. The hospital provides medical treatment to Christian, Muslim and Jewish children, including many from the West Bank. Kids4Peace will lead activities with the children during visits to the hospital. The children there will meet new friends from the three religions, and our K4P youth will practice the importance of charity and community service in our traditions.
After the formal program ended, parents, staff and youth counselors joined activity stations, including cookie decorating, drumming, a Kids4Peace quiz, and an art project where we made gifts to bring to the children at Hadassah hospital.
Kids4Peace youth sold raffle tickets to help raise money for Jerusalem programs. The grand prize winner received a free night at a hotel in Tiberias, courtesy of Guiding Star travel agency. Others received gift certificates for local restaurants and businesses.
The annual event was covered by several local media companies. Check back for updates as more links are added