The EU-funded “Dialogue and Identity” program, which holds meetings between Jewish and Arab educators and pupils from twinned school throughout the country, will mark 16 years of activity in a festive event: “Sabah El Shir” on Wednesday 25.5.2022, 24 Iyar 5742, in the morning at the Yad LaMaginim Theater in Kibbutz Yagur, in the presence of the Ambassador of the European Union, Mr. Dimiter Tzantchev, with the participation of 1,200 Dialogue and Identity students, 38 principals and 76 teachers.
The Dialogue and Identity Program is a joint initiative of the TALI Education Fund, one of the leading and most influential educational organizations in Israel working for Jewish renewal in the Israeli education system, and the Rossing Center for Education and Dialogue, a one-of-a-kind interreligious organization that works to create an inclusive society.
The uniqueness of the program is in creating absolute balance between the two sectors, the Jewish and the Arab, from the level of management through the partnership in the facilitation to the students themselves. The educational vision of Dialogue and Identity is to build a better and more just Israeli society, aware of the many differences between its components, and able to create direct and complex channels of communication – between school students and teachers and program staff, who see diversity as a blessing.
Throughout the school year, four meetings are held between each pair of schools. Students visit and are hosted in schools – in their familiar environments. They jointly take classes on tolerance, respect and appreciation for other traditions, learn about the holidays of the three religions, the various rites of passage and the sources of the Scriptures and visit a synagogue, a church and a mosque together.
On Wednesday, May 25, 2022, in the morning, a festive event will be held to mark 16 years of the program’s activity. In honor of the event, a new song was written and composed especially to be performed in Hebrew, Arabic and English by the program’s students. The song “At Eye Level” written by Inbar Ofek and Kobi Luria expresses the values of “Dialogue and Identity” and encourages the building of connection, communication and empathy between the parties.
According to Eva Halachmi, co-director of the Dialogue and Identity program on behalf of TALI, “One of the beautiful things about the program is the constant movement that exists between the discovery of the self and the discovery of the other.”
Hussam Elias, Co-Director of the Dialogue and Identity Program on behalf of the Rossing Center for Education and Dialogue adds, “Dialogue and Identity opens a door for acquaintance around the cultural-religious axis. The program arouses curiosity and a desire to learn and get to know the other. ”
“Our school believes in connecting people from different places, we learn to respect each other, and learn about the different cultures. We are happy to take part in this important project,” said one of the students in the program.
“We live in a diverse society that includes people from different cultures and with different identities. The Israeli reality often presents us with challenges in everything related to Jewish-Arab relations. Our job at the school is to talk transparently and understand this complexity, and most importantly not to make generalizations,” said one of the school principals participating in the program.
Thanks to a grant received in 2020 from the European Union, the ‘Dialogue and Identity’ program has expanded and today 38 schools from all over the country participate, half of them Jewish state-run, led by the TALI Education Fund, and half ecclesiastical schools that have joined the program through the Rossing Center for Education and Dialogue. Ambassador Dimiter Tzantchev, EU Ambassador to Israel, said: “The European Union will resolutely continue to support peace efforts in Israel and between Israel and its neighbours. The potential that youth have in bringing about peaceful societies is unparalleled, and we are proud to support this very important project.”