Tzedakah is a Jewish imperative – if for individuals, how much more so for Jewish organizations? For this reason, each year Congregation Shir Tikvah budgets money to give tzedakah to a worthwhile Jewish organization. This year the Steering Committee voted that the money go to the Jewish-Arab children’s educational initiative “Hand in Hand.“
Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel was founded by Portland resident Lee Gordon in 1997 to help build partnership and coexistence between Jews and Arabs in Israel through the creation of integrated, bilingual schools. Together with Israeli Arab educator Amin Khalaf, Lee helped establish three schools in Israel, and later a fourth, with a total now of over 1,000 students enrolled.
In Israel today 20% of its citizens are Arab and 80% are Jews. But they lead highly segregated lives and the relationship between these two communities is characterized by a high level of conflict, fear, ignorance and distrust. Hand in Hand is making an important impact for the breaking down of these barriers and building a sense of “Shared citizenship” between Arabs and Jews. Hand in Hand welcomes visitors to its schools in Israel.
One of our members, Dale Schwartz, has volunteered with “Hand in Hand “ for several years, and said of her involvement, “I wanted to do something that I could see directly impacting the possibility of peace in Israel and I was so impressed that an individual could take their dream and make it reality. It gives me hope that we can all make a difference.”