Written by Phyllis Richards
Each summer Glenview Community UCC in Illinois hosts Israeli and Palestinian teenagers in an attempt to break down barriers of hate and mistrust.
The Hands of Peace program began in 2002 when a Jewish mom and a Christian mom from Glenview, seeing how well their children played together despite their differences, wanted to do something about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Preparing to celebrate its 10th year, the Hands of Peace Middle East Alumni Club hosted an alumni seminar in Jaffa, Israel, in the spring of 2012. Due in large part to funding received from One Great Hour of Sharing, the organization was able to bring together 33 former Hands of Peace participants, including Palestinians from the West Bank, Palestinian Citizens of Israel, and Jewish-Israelis. The students came from all over Israel and the West Bank to spend a weekend in this multi-cultural city located just south of Tel Aviv engaging in dialog and looking for ways to improve their shared future together.
In 2012, the Hands of Peace Summer Program continued its trajectory of growth by engaging seven Jewish-Israelis, seven Palestinians, four Palestinian citizens of Israel and 14 American teens in another intense and emotionally enriching two-week experience hosted in Glenview, Ill. Addressing the geographic, religious and cultural diversity issues that flavor the Israeli-Palestinian reality, the program once again witnessed a group of teenagers who progressed from anxious and wary strangers at the beginning of their time together, to crying and hugging friends when it came time to say goodbye.
For the second year, Summer Program participants produced videos on themes of peace that can be viewed at the Hands of Peace website — handsofpeace.org.
One Great Hour of Sharaing supports Hands of Peace in its efforts to help teens explore peaceful coexistence and celebrates the program’s efforts as it gears up for its 10th full program year in 2013!