Thanks to the support of USAID – Kids4Peace has launched a three-fold tour where we will explore the fabric of the Old City through guided tours and personal stories from Kids4Peace youth and staff. This is an exciting initiative that we believe in deeply. Taking a step further from our usual meeting places and set events with our youth and community, Kids4Peace wants to bring our message and community to the streets of Jerusalem, exploring our city together and weaving through our intricate and complicated histories, identities and neighborhoods, as a community of Israelis and Palestinians.
“We live together, Muslims, Christians and Jews. It’s normal, and I like to walk around with everyone in my home.”- Yusuf, a K4P 8th grade participant, lives in the Old City.
Yesterday, March 5th, Kids4Peace toured the four quarters of the Old City with professional tour guide and K4P Father, Jared Goldfarb. Moving away from the traditional holy sites and stories one is used to seeing and hearing in the Old City, Jared took us through the tapestries of the people and homes within the walls. We wanted to meet the residents of the Old City and learn about their relationships to this place and each other within the walls. Besides the millions of visitors from around the globe that come each year to connect to the holy sites, we wanted to ask: who are the locals that get to live so close to the center of the monotheistic world? What defines their various identities, where have they succeeded as communities, and what challenges do they face dwelling in such an intense place?
“I enjoy being here with everyone together. The Old City is like my second home, I wish it was my first. It feels special and good to be here with everyone. It’s Jerusalem, it’s a city for peace.” -Ghadeer, mother to 6th grade K4P participant, lives in Shuafat.
As we walked through the ancient Jerusalem stoned streets, we discussed population breakdown and percentages, and how interesting it is that a Muslim or a Jew for example who comes to visit the Old City and their holy sites, might not know that Christians are the majority in the Old City and that they own a vast amount of the real estate within the walls. Jill, the parents program coordinator and a facilitator, spoke about religious symbols and monuments as informing our understanding and connection to space and location.
Being a group of Jews, Muslims and Christians together, wandering the streets of the Old City and learning the history of the people that live within the walls was a unique and gratifying experience, and we look forward to the tours to come!