TALI’s ‘Morning Song – Sabbach al Shir’ Brings Together 1,000 Jewish, Christian and Muslim Students!


What happens when you place 1,000 Jewish and Arab schoolchildren together for a morning?

You get a whopping, wonderful rich tapestry of fun-loving, excited and loud children at Morning Song or as it called in mixed Hebrew and Arabic: ‘Sabbach al Shir.’

Children at Morning Song – (Photo Shai Birnbaum)

Sabbach al Shir is the annual culminating activity of the Dialogue & Identity educational initiative. All of the children and teachers in Yagur’s Yad Lemaganim auditorium spent the morning happily singing and swaying and clapping to a song created in Hebrew and Arabic specifically for the program, which they had practiced in their classrooms prior to the event.

Morning Song Children clapping with song (Photo Joshua Shuman)

Dialogue & Identity is a program created as a partnership between the TALI Education Fund and the Rossing Center for Education and Dialogue. It pairs secular schools which work within the TALI network and schools from the National Network of Christian schools, in which both Christian and Muslim students are educated. The program is co-funded by the European Union.

The long-term program created by Rossing and TALI educators has run non-stop, even during COVID, for the past 17 years. Growing from six schools – always ½ Jewish ½ Arab, the program has matured into one with 36 schools from around the country.

Andrea Pontiroli, deputy ambassador of the EU in Israel, reported, “The event in Yagur was beautiful. I was very moved to see so many children from different backgrounds get together, with the common goal of building a better future for this region. Peace is at the very foundation of the European project. We believe that peace is possible here in the Middle East as well. And that is why we continue to work toward bringing the two sides, Arabs and Jews, closer together. Nothing does more to create conditions for a sustainable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than seeing with our own eyes that we’re all human, that we all have so much in common and that we are so have so much more to gain by being united rather than by fighting each other. Unfortunately, it seems that a final status peace agreement is not imminent. But seeing the positive energy of the children who are part of the Dialogue and Identity project is giving me hope for the future. We are proud to partner with the Tali Education Fund and the Rossing Center in this amazing project!”

Andrea Pontiroli, – center in blue shirt -deputy ambassador of the EU in Israel, singing with children (photo Nir Sha’anani)

Dialogue & Identity instills values – personal, cultural and collective – primarily into elementary schools with some junior high schools participating. TALI and Rossing educators work with the schools to create programming that develops and strengthens personal cultural identity. With a clear, more well defined identity, the schools are ready to meet others within Israeli society who have different cultural identities.

Starting with the principals and senior staff members, Dialogue & Identity finds the common ground among educators prior to bringing hands-on programming to students.

This year, for instance, the principals from Haifa’s Shalva and Saint John’s schools met to chart out their joint activities. Yuval Tzarfati and Grace Salama, the respective principals, found their similarities and differences regarding the teaching of identities and cultures bound up in their different religions. Staffs from the two schools met during winter holiday time (Hanukah and Christmas) sharing how they celebrate their religious holidays.

Christian and Jewish teachers share holiday cheer (Photo TALI)

According to Dr. Peri Sinclair, Susan and Scott Shay TALI Director General, “First, we work with principals and teachers and then they engage their students to independently explore their personal cultural identity: Jewish, Christian or Muslim. Then we bring the children together to talk about issues, about values that they might share or see differently.”

Sinclair notes, “The idea is looking at the Jewish and non-Jewish Israelis living together as a majority and minority though a cultural lens which highlights ideas of shared society from Jewish, Christian and Muslim points of view, asking what is our responsibility, not only as people, but as Jews, Christians and Muslims to treat our neighbors in a certain way? To make sure that they have what they need it order to celebrate their traditions?”

Singing children (Photo Nir Sha’anani)

Rossing’s Executive Director Dr. Sarah Bernstein, stressed the need to work with the teachers and students to break down stereotypes and prejudice. “When children never meet each other, and only hear about the other society through the media, they develop fear and hostility. We have to educate our young people to understand that we are all entitled to live in peace and security, to feel free to express our different religious and national identities. We have to learn to live together.”

Hussam Elias, Rossing’s Dialogue & Identity program director comments, “It is important that Jewish society gets to know and understand the Palestinian minority, both Muslims and Christians. The program educates children to embrace diversity, rather than feel threatened by it – which means children need to strengthen their own identities, whilst remaining open to meeting and living alongside people with other identities.

“Interactions, small as they may be, are a key element of Dialogue & Identity,” says Eva Halachmi, Director of Dialogue and Identity at the TALI Education Fund. “One of the goals is to change the perception of the ‘other’ into a positive one leading children and students to see reflections of themselves with the same interests and likes.”

Children playing outside prior to ceremony (Photo Joshua Shuman)


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