A school in Jerusalem brings Arab and Jewish kids together to boost understanding
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of NPR
Posted: January 29th, 2024
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.
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