Grace, Gratitude and Beyond
Dear Friends,
Our recent pilgrimage to Jerusalem filled our hearts with the experience of one word - gratitude . Only gratitude can express all we at Jerusalem Peacebuilders (JPB) feel after an autumn overflowing with blessings.
Indeed, in three months, JPB programs and partnerships in the Holy Land have accelerated beyond every expectation. Much of what was planned for the next 18 months is already accomplished. This progress impacts the Israeli, Palestinian and American peace-builders whom we serve and us in new and exciting ways.
  • Scope and Scale: New partnerships with peace-building organizations and individuals expand our pull beyond Jerusalem. Now teens and adults from Nazareth, Tel Aviv, Gaza, Central Israel, and the West Bank will also have access to JPB's transformational programming. This summer we expect 90 participants. With more donations and support that number could be 300. This is our goal.
  • Schools Initiative: JPB is now teaching in three notable Jerusalem area schools with a fourth within tantalizing reach. Rather than struggle with after-school programming, JPB offers in-school elective classes in peace-building and leadership. In-school classes allow for consistent impact on students and for systemic impact on the faculty and wider student-body. 

  • Summer Youth Institutes: In response to this upsurge in demand, JPB will operate four programs during July and August 2017. Keep an eye on our new advanced Service-Learning program for 15 year-olds at Camp Allen near Houston. Camp Allen can eventually accommodate 200 participants in several simultaneous programs. This premier facility is a key asset for JPB's growth.
  • Adult Programs: To foster spiritual growth and informed entry-level involvement, JPB organized three adult educational excursions to the Holy Land in 2016. Furthermore, strong early interest suggests that EXCEL - JPB's adult training of trainers program - will be over-subscribed in July. Adult programming is a strong source of impact, volunteers and income.

Clearly, we stand together at a turning point. For these many blessings and for the promise of peace, we are grateful and we ever thankful for your friendship.
Fr. Nicholas Porter and Stuart Kensinger
Because the future of Jerusalem is the future of the world
One pilgrim's account of a recent trip to the Holy Land
In late October and early November, twenty-five Christian pilgrims from Houston's Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian church traveled to the Holy Land with JPB co-founders, Canon Nicholas Porter and Stuart and Angie Kensinger. Our journey began with the Holocaust Museum,  Yad Vashem , and Jesus' Nativity, and it ended with the Via Dolorosa and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
We visited and prayed at holy sites in Bethlehem, the Judean Desert, the Galilee, and Jerusalem. While in the Galilee, we visited Nazareth, including Mary's Well and the home of Joseph the Just. Orthodox tradition remembers the Archangel Gabriel first appearing to Mary at the well, and terrifying her. She ran home, where he appeared to her again.

Checking out the Ethiopian Monastery near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
"Mary" shortens the name "Miriam," a name meaning "stiff necked" or "stubborn," suggesting that in agreeing to carry the Lord, Mary had to overcome her own nature. St. Gabriel's Greek Orthodox Church in Nazareth contains an icon of the Annunciation in which Jesus already appears in Mary's womb: perhaps at the very moment she said "Yes!"
Throughout the trip, we met Middle Eastern women and men of different faiths working with Jerusalem Peacebuilders. Courageously, patiently, they overcame the history of the region as well as their own personal histories in order to say "yes" to becoming advocates for peace rather than for conflict.
Morning prayer at sunrise 
on  Mt. Tabor
JPB Program alum discusses life in 

Like the stones we saw at the 1st century home of Joseph the Just - the lintel framing the door of the house, a street immediately beyond, and a stone that covered the entrance to a tomb - these are living stones that reinforced our own faith journey with Christ Jesus. As Fr. Nicholas regularly reminded us, "Holy places move." We, too, can become holy places of peace in our joyous, sometimes painful, and blessed life together.
~John Wallace
Because the future of Jerusalem is the future of the world


JPB leaders inspire hope for
peace  in a divided world.

Please help us in raising the  next  generation 
of peace-builders.
"This year, I feel like all I ever read is news of violence. I choose to donate to JPB because I have witnessed them enact and embody - not simply discuss - peace. I cannot imagine a better investment."
~Recent donor

Donation checks should be payable to  "Jerusalem Peacebuilders" and sent to:

Jerusalem Peacebuilders (JPB)
3300 Chimney Rock, Suite 301
Houston, TX 77056 USA 

Jerusalem Peacebuilders (JPB) is a tax-exempt organization per section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and is further classified as a public charity. Donations may be made directly to JPB and deducted under Section 170 of the Code. JPB's federal tax identification number (EIN) is 45-2233148

Thank you for supporting the pioneering work of peace
Because the future of Jerusalem is the future of the world
JPB participants present speeches at Jerusalem high school
As part of following through with JPB's Service-Learning program, participants were tasked with taking their service speeches back to their home communities and sharing them with family, friends, and neighbors, thus reaffirming their commitment to leadership and peacebuilding. At the Sts. Tarkmanchatz Armenian School in Jerusalem, three alumni had the opportunity to present their speeches to their classmates during both an all-school assembly and our recent adult pilgrimage in late-October. Because we were so moved by these speeches, we are going to share one with you now:

" If you ask a group of people what the word service means, you will see that everyone will have a different answer. This shows that the definition of the word 'service' differs between each person and culture. Some people might say service is to give, to be kind and generous whereas others might define it using only the word help.
From the beginning of all monotheistic religions, service has been very significant. It's one of the few things that is commonly shared between people of different backgrounds. It does not matter what you have faith in because believing encourages you to serve.
In Islam, we've seen different types of service in the Quran and Hadith. Service is when you treat someone the way you would like to be treated, for instance, when you share a warm smile with others. Simply, every good deed is service and charity. Similar to Islam and Judaism, Christianity teaches one how to be generous and merciful. Each religion teaches people the correct way to live as mentioned in the Bible, the Torah, or the Quran.
'We learned how service is our duty; to tend to those in need. We learned leadership, respect, sharing and gratitude. We learned how to speak confidently. But most importantly we learned 
how to listen.' 

One of the ways that this program helped us improve our leadership skills and how much we serve others is by having field activities. For example, we visited IRIS (Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services), a local refugee facility, and helped foreign families to learn English and to move into new apartments.
We've also learned to serve by volunteering in the Christ Church Soup Kitchen. Food was made by kind volunteers who despite their busy schedule came on a daily basis and cooked for the homeless and the needy. Each and every participant had the opportunity to assist either by filling up empty metal trays, by giving away small slices of bread or by seating the ones who came. At the end of the day, we gained an unforgettable experience which involved meeting the homeless, listening to their stories, and feeling their pain.
As participants of this wonderful program, we learned MANY important life lessons especially during the dialogues we had almost every night. We learned how service is our duty; to tend to those in need. We learned leadership, respect, sharing and gratitude. We learned how to speak confidently but most importantly we learned how to listen. One of my peers named Mohammad said, 'I can't wait to share all the skills that I've learned throughout this program back at home, serving my community, my people, and yours.'
Strangers who we never even dreamt of meeting suddenly became our closest friends. We lived like a one big family, joked around; laughed with, shared personal stories and cried with. Food was eaten around one very long table and the bread was shared. We even had ice cream for dessert! My peers and I learned a lot from each other and all of a sudden became our own teachers. Now those  are memories one would never easily forget.
By the end of this program, I became aware that people are not that different. From what I've observed, I learned that too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears. Conflict and culture do not determine who we choose to be and who we choose to be with! I believe that this life-changing program that was founded by two people has had an impact on our lives and hopefully will on others throughout the years ahead. Just remember, peace starts with you."
~Sarin, Armenian, Christian

Because the future of Jerusalem is the future of the world
JPB alumni share their learning
Last week in Jerusalem, JPB introduced four Christian, Muslim, and Jewish program alumni to a delegation of fourteen adult peacebuilders and dialogue facilitators from the 
Compassionate Listening Project (CLP) for a special evening of dialogue and sharing. 
With the guiding question,
"how does the situation in Israel/Palestine affect you?", the teens not only spoke at length about their hopes and concerns for the future, but also gave testimony to the impactful learning experiences they had at the Service-Learning program in New Haven, CT this past summer.    

JPB teens benefit immensely from these types of engaging events with adults where they can confidently express themselves and practice their communication and leadership skills in a safe and supportive space. The CLP group helped facilitate this atmosphere by their exceptional care and kindness,  leaving everyone feeling inspired, hopeful and connected at the end of the night. JPB is grateful to CLP and looks forward to facilitating more of these powerful meetings in the years to come!
Because the future of Jerusalem is the future of the world
Junior counselor discusses JPB and beyond
Participating in a dialogue about Israel/Palestine
This past summer, while working as an intern for the JPB EXCEL adult program in Vermont, I had the privilege of listening and participating in daily workshops, dialogues, and activities. For two weeks, I was surrounded by twenty-five Israeli, Palestinian, and American role models who don't just believe in peace, but are spending their life actually doing something about it. I learned about politics in the Middle East, I challenged my personal values and stereotypes about the "other", and I heard inspiring personal stories about persevering through difficult and trying times.

At times, I struggled with not always feeling able to fully contribute because I lacked sufficient knowledge in Middle Eastern history to share in sessions with the adults, and it was hard for me to thoughtfully formulate beliefs and opinions about what is going on in the Middle East today. This experience motivated me to return home and learn more.

"Studying history gives me optimism and hope. I f more people learn their history and not just the cultural stereotypes and stories of suffering that blame others, then I believe peace is possible."

Back at home I decided, for several reasons, to study the history of the Jewish people and the history of Israel/Palestine. First, I wanted to strengthen my ability to speak up when I hear people making statements and jokes containing prejudice and misinformation regarding Israel/Palestine. Second, I didn't want to be in another situation where I felt that I couldn't contribute to a conversation about the Middle East as much as I would like. And third, I wanted to deepen and develop my Jewish identity by studying ancient and modern Judaism, which is closely tied to the study of Israel.
Visiting Auschwitz on a school trip to Poland
Today, I am studying Jewish and Israeli/Palestinian History at the Alexander Muss High School in Israel. Every time I learn about an event in history, my class travels to where the event actually took place. Over the past three months, I have journeyed all across Israel/Palestine, and I even spent a week in Poland studying the Holocaust and my European family roots from before the time of the Holocaust.

If you would like to hear more about my experiences in Israel/Palestine and in Poland, here is a link to the weekly blog I am keeping:

Peace is possible
Studying history gives me optimism and hope. If more people learn their history and not just cultural stereotypes and stories of suffering that blame others, then I believe peace is possible. That is why I am so glad to be a part of Jerusalem Peacebuilders and Kids4Peace Boston where we do set aside blame, and focus on human connection and understanding. I am not sure what my future holds when I return to the United States next month, but what I do know is that Jerusalem Peacebuilders and Kids4Peace Boston will be a part of my future.  Peace, Salaam, Shalom.

~Maor, Jewish
Because the future of Jerusalem is the future of the world
2017 Program applications launch in December

Adult EXCEL (USA): 
July 2 - 10, 2017

Leadership (VT): 
July 16 - 30, 2017

Service-Learning (TX): 
August 3 - 13, 2017

Service-Learning (CT): 
August 3 - 13, 2017

It is never too early to inquire or to apply to these dynamic programs. JPB offers sessions with a balanced mix of Jews, Christians and Muslims, males and females, Israelis, Palestinians and Americans. 

Have you ever wondered what happens 
at a  JPB summer program?

Please contact about how to involve your family, school, synagogue, church, mosque or organization with Jerusalem Peacebuilders. We look forward to hearing from you!
Because the future of Jerusalem is the future of the world