More than 250 Youth, Family Members, Staff & Community Leaders gathered together on Thursday December 19, 2013 from across East & West Jerusalem and the West Bank. For many, the event was the first time venturing outside after days of Jerusalem’s most intense snowstorm in over a century.
The Kids4Peace community was honored to receive blessings by prominent local clergy members from the three religions including former MK Rabbi Michael Melchior, Father Sanni Ibrahim Azar, and Emam Hosein Abed Gomaa. The community was inspired and encouraged to continue coming together amid rising regional political tension, an unpromising peace process, and increased violence. Rabbi Melchior challenged the community to “listen to other people’s dreams and change our destiny.” He proclaimed to the audience boldly, “We are not destined to fight and kill each other.”
After the blessings, the Jerusalem Youth Chorus of the YMCA performed songs in Hebrew and Arabic, filling the auditorium with cheer and song. Executive Director Josh Thomas honored Kids4Peace’s longest-serving staff, and Jerusalem Co-Directors Mohammad Joulany and Rebecca Sullum announced a new community service partnership with Hadassah Hospital. Staff and volunteers then led activity stations, including art, drumming, and cookie decorating.
The art station featured an array of gifts for the youth to decorate which Kids4Peace will be donating to children hospitalized at Hadassah Hospital as part of a new volunteering relationship with the Mount Scopus branch of Hadassah Hospital. Kids4Peace Jerusalem will be visiting the pediatric ward regularly to run activities for the youth in the hospital.
For the first time ever– Kids4Peace Grandmother Jihan Raouf led an incredible cookie-decorating station, featuring her own homemade cookies! Guests had choices of toppings, spreads, icing, candy and sprinkles for the most colorful and exciting cookies Jerusalem has ever seen.
Kids4Peace counselors in training created and ran a Kids4Peace game with prizes including new Kids4Peace merchandise.
The Fundraising Raffle was a huge success and congratulations to Leap4Peace member Aviya Cohen on selling the most tickets! Special thank you to our sponsors: Guiding Star Travel, Sbitany and Sons, and the Village Green.
The event was a blast for all who attended as community members of all ages rekindled their connections and friendships. Thank you to everyone who participated and we look forward to next year’s winter event already!