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A Message from Hand in Hand's CEO, Dani Elazar

Long before I came to Hand in Hand, this organization has been defying the limits of what was considered possible in the Israeli education system. Soon we will celebrate almost a quarter century of work, and I appreciate the long view that this milestone represents. In this time, we have grown into a countrywide network of over 2,000 students, but our journey and the mission continue.

Hand in Hand recently took a critical step forward on this path, helping to organize a major conference at the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) on shared and bilingual education. A cabinet minister and 10 Knesset Members from five different parties vocalized ardent support for Hand in Hand, and the acute need to bring children together from different sectors of society. Knesset Member Gilad Kariv announced a bill to formalize Arab-Jewish education as a recognized stream in the Ministry of Education—ensuring state support for an integrated educational campus in any mixed Jewish-Arab region in Israel. Each of these campuses will serve as a beacon for shared society, and greatly expand access to shared schools to thousands more families. Watch a recap here.

As of July 2022, this proposal is still a pending bill, and the legislative route through the current, unstable political environment in the Knesset will be challenging. Yet the importance of expanding and institutionalizing shared education in Israel cannot be overstated.

To illustrate, Hand in Hand succeeded in launching our Kafr Qasim-Rosh Ha’ayin program during an especially tough chapter of the Covid pandemic and without core governmental support. Yet despite two years of effort, we remained unable to access the public resources needed and sadly had to close our local school program at the end of this year. Yet Hand in Hand will continue community-building activities with Kafr Qasim-Rosh Ha’ayin families until the school can be reopened, and we will remain active in our legislative campaign. This experience wholly underscores the importance of established government support for shared education.

Looking back, this past year has indeed been one of both hurdles and opportunities. Educators renewed programming as students settled back into consistent classroom learning. Our community organizers brought members back together after pandemic-mandated separations and the polarizing events of May 2021, investing meaningful efforts into strengthening trust and solidarity between us. We launched Israel’s only intentional Jewish-Arab University Student Community, bringing together college students in Jerusalem for a year of dialogue, volunteering, and learning. We also expanded our preschool partnership program, providing 15 public preschools in the cities of Jaffa and Nof Hagalil with staff training and materials in multicultural education. The affirmative impact of these encounters has been a galvanizing reminder of the importance of our mission.

With great pride, I wish a very hearty congratulations to all our graduates this year, including the first graduating class of the Hand in Hand Haifa Elementary School. With many blessings for the future, we hope our graduates know that Hand in Hand will always be their home.

Thank you to our educational staff for all of the excellence and warmth that they brought each day. And thank you, our supporters, for sticking with Hand in Hand during these turbulent times. We are grateful that you share our vision and join us on this ongoing journey to change education in Israel. We hope to see you soon!


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