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Min HaBe’erot Principals Meet President Rivlin

Be’eri Partnership for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel - creating hope between Jews and Arabs in Israel - receives support from Israeli President

Arab and Jewish school principals participating in the  Min HaBe’erot program and Shalom Hartman Institute President Donniel Hartman met Israeli President Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin on April 20, 2015.

The group, comprising 15 Jewish and 15 Arab principals, meets weekly throughout the year for joint study of Islamic, Christian, and Jewish sources relating to issues of coexistence as citizens of the State of Israel.

During the visit, the principals described the challenges they face, shared experiences of the program and their plans as educators, and expressed their appreciation for the way he has and continues to encourage coexistence.

President Rivlin responded that discourse enables connection and that connection enables partnership, and without dialogue there is no understanding. He said that the Min HaBe’erot program creates a necessary dialogue, as the participating educators are molding the future generation of Israeli leadership.

"We must continue to work to create a relationship of trust between all parts of the Israeli public; working always to enforce the values of a democratic, Jewish State," Rivlin said.

The Min HaBe’erot Partnership for Jewish-Arab Education, launched in December 2014, promotes coexistence by bringing together school principals of different faiths in northern Israel to address issues related to their shared background as citizens of the State of Israel.

Through the study of traditional Muslim, Christian, and Jewish texts, joint Min Habe’erot study strengthens personal identity, social and moral values, and mutual respect, empowering educators to forge a cultural identity based on respect for oneself and for the other. Enhancing the commitment of each group to its own heritage, makes religion and heritage the basis for dialogue and connection between people, a common denominator, not a differentiator.

Running through August 2015, the pilot program for school principals comprises 12 days of seminars, with the opening and closing sessions taking place at the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. All other meetings take place in northern Israel in close proximity to the participants. Each five-hour session includes one or more lectures, discussion, and study of traditional Islamic, Christian, and Jewish texts and philosophical literature. Study is guided by Islamic, Christian, and Jewish faculty and facilitators.

Dr. Zvika Reiter, principal of Reut, a Jewish School of the Arts in Haifa, said the meetings have helped him find "sanity" in the midst of a very tense reality, calling the program "an island of sanity."

"I have the honor of studying with a peer group of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish school principals and educators, sponsored by the Hartman Institute’s Be’eri program this week," he said. "The program brings together principals from diverse backgrounds and faiths for joint study. This week we discussed the value of life and man. I learned that Islam and Christianity also believe that man was created in God’s image. Together we studied each other’s texts, and I was thrilled by the shared experience. It was as if we found an island of sanity in the midst of a chaotic Middle East and world."

Working with the educational faculties in partner schools, as well as directly with students, Be’eri is transforming coexistence education into a meaningful part of the curriculum and school culture, leading to a joint commitment to create a unified citizenship in the State of Israel.

Tamam Wakiddabbah, a Muslim school principal said: "Min Habe’erot has helped me keep my serenity among all violent waves of racism and aggression locally, regionally and globally. That serenity which is essentially needed for a junior-high school principal who is mainly responsible for nurturing new generations year after year. Before joining this humanistic program, I felt alone and very often too weak to lead my staff and community in paths against racism and violence. It was like swimming against strong streams.This program has given me more reasons to continue my path towards real peace. It has offered me the partners and it also offered me the needed emotional-religious strength. Thanks to the innovators, to those who donated and to those who worked this valuable program out."

Min HaBe’erot has already begun garnering support from governmental partners in the Ministry of Education, who are working with Be’eri to recruit future cohorts of principals.

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