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Newest Hand in Hand Community Launch: Nof Hagalil (Nazareth Illit)

If you haven’t heard, Hand in Hand is opening our SEVENTH community – this time in Nof Hagalil (formerly Nazareth Illit).

Nof Hagalil is a small and growing city in Israel’s North, with about one-third Arab residents. The municipality has yet to build a single school for Arab families, who either bus their children out or send them to local Jewish schools where their language, culture, and religion are not part of the learning. The prevailing atmosphere in the city has long been one of separation and discrimination toward Arab families, and we know that the road ahead is long.

Yet we have also faced such challenges before. We know that encounter by encounter, the Hand in Hand story has the power to change hearts and minds. Hand in Hand is now laying the groundwork to launch in Nof Hagalil, and we have hired a local, Nisreen Dabayat-Bitar, to be our new community organizer there. Nisreen is recruiting new families and meeting local leaders to gain support for Hand in Hand in the city.

Nisreen, an indefatigable force, recently organized one Hand in Hand’s largest local community events. In order to get the word out and forge relationships with local institutions, Nisreen organized a bilingual family festival at the Green Community Center in the Har Yona neighborhood, where we aim to open the new Hand in Hand preschool. The Green Community Center is named for Don Green, a wonderfully generous supporter of institutions in Nof Hagalil, including Hand in Hand’s new community-building efforts there.

We were absolutely thrilled that over 150 people came, Arabs and Jews, parents and kids! The event included craft stations and a bilingual performance, and people who had lived in the same city for years got to know one another for the first time.

The politics between Jews and Arabs in Nof Hagalil are delicate, but we are laying the groundwork for much-needed spaces of integration and mutual respect. Bringing Hand in Hand to a place like Nof Hagalil is revolutionary, and we are so excited to be a new engine of change in the city.

Thank you to the staff and CEO of the Green Community Center, who shared: “Hand in Hand is a natural partner for us. This will be the first of many events like this.”

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