Save the Date

for the
Chicago Benefit

May 6, 2018

at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Click here to purchase your tickets today!

Save the Date

for the
San Diego Benefit

April 29, 2018

at The Crossings at Carlsbad

Important Dates to Remember:

2018 Summer Program Dates
July 11, 2018 - July 30, 2018

Applications for 2018 Summer Program available on our website. 

Host Family applications 

U.S. Participant applications 

Palestinian Participant applications
click here.

Palestinian Citizen of Israel applications

Jewish Israel applications 

XL Applications 

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January, 2018

Executive Director Update
Excitement builds as we think ahead to the Hands of Peace Class of 2018.  Who will be included in the next cohort of young leaders?  Whose lives will be touched and forever changed through their experience with Hands of Peace?  We marvel at the impact the program has had on past participants and the personal journeys many of them have undertaken as a result of their involvement.  Who will be next?
With the February 11 application deadline just two weeks away, we encourage each one of you in the Hands of Peace community to participate in "Hand a Friend Day" on Sunday, January 28.  Over the next 24-48 hours, think of high school students you know who would benefit from the Hands of Peace experience in Chicago or San Diego.  On Sunday, reach out to at least one of them and talk to them about the transformative experience of Israeli, Palestinian and American young people in dialogue together, listening to each other's perspectives and sharing personal stories.   Encourage them to apply before the February 11 application deadline.  You can forward them this newsletter, or e-mail them the link to our website,   The application link for the Summer Program is prominent on the home page.  
Thank you for all you do to help transform lives!  Our future depends on the leadership of the next generation!

 Hands of Peace News and Updates
You made the match!
Great news - generous year-end giving from the Hands of Peace community and new supporters was doubled by $100,000 in matching funds from an anonymous donor. Your giving funds 20 participants in the first-year Hands of Peace experience. Total giving for the 4th quarter of 2017 surpassed $250,000, with more new supporters and more gifts than the prior year for the same period.
You are building a more peaceful world, and every gift offers hope to young people who are seeing injustice and inequality in their communities. Hands of Peace depends on individuals like you, and on religious congregations, family foundations, and small grants to bring together remarkable, courageous young people. As our rapidly growing alumni group of more than 500 young leaders clamors for additional dialogue, community engagement and leadership training, you are stepping up with resources, sharing your homes, volunteering, and building community connections.
On behalf of all the Hands of Peace participants, Shukran, Toda, T hank You for building Salaam, Shalom, Peace.

Our Next Tour of Israel/Palestine
October 21 - November 1, 2018
You can experience a life-changing dual narrative tour of Israel/Palestine with Hands of Peace founder Gretchen Grad. These trips are specifically customized for Hands of Peace supporters and offer a combination of rich historical, cultural, and spiritual experiences, along with multi-perspective encounters that help you to gain a deeper understanding of the region. Trip size is capped at 30 participants, so make your plans soon. 

For more details, click hereQuestions? Contact Gretchen Grad

Planned Giving: Bequest Plants a Tree for the Next Generation
When Larry and Rose Feder of Highland Park, Illinois, first read about Hands of Peace in the newspaper, they were struck by the feeling of hope it offered.  Larry invited then-Executive Director Julie Kanak to speak at the Optimist Club about Hands of Peace and its mission. Larry and Rose's involvement grew as they heard from participants and alumni about the transformation they experienced during the three-week Summer Program. The Feders saw firsthand how these young leaders opened up to new ways of thinking about conflict, peace, justice and "the other."

So, when Larry and Rose began thinking about what legacy they wanted to leave in the world, they chose to make a bequest to Hands of Peace.

"I'm a golfer," says Larry, "and one day my son asked me, "Dad, what hole in life are you on? I figure we're on the 15 th or 16 th hole, a lot of our friends are passing on, and it makes you think clearly about the future. We are fortunate, our kids are doing well, and we want our hard work to have a positive impact on the world."

Since Spring 2014, Larry has served on the Hands of Peace Board, but one of his favorite activities is still cooking with the Hands of Peace participants as they prepare their favorite foods for Culture Night. "My experience as a cook in the Army taught me that you really get to know people when you get your hands dirty," says Larry.

Then, in October 2016, Larry and Rose traveled to Israel/Palestine on a Hands of Peace Dual-Narrative Tour led by founder Gretchen Grad. Steven, one of their two sons, and his wife Elaine joined them. It was a life-changing experience.

"We loved getting together with the participants and their families there," says Larry. "The young people had really influenced their parents, who were eager to have conversations with us that echoed in some way the dialogue that program participants have."

Larry and Rose know that it takes many kinds of community involvement, including host families, volunteers, committees, events and contributions, to make it possible for Hands of Peace to empower youth as leaders of change. And their investment in the next generation is a long-term commitment.

"My mother taught me to be altruistic," explains Larry, "and I love going after windmills -- difficult problems like the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Hands of Peace still gives us hope."

To learn more about how you can make a bequest to Hands of Peace, visit the Hands of Peace Planned Giving page .

Middle East Updates
Alumni Connections

Within the past month, the Jewish Israeli and Palestinian delegations have held uni-national meetings, giving Hands of Peace alumni opportunities to connect and meet.  The Jewish Israeli meeting was primarily a networking event for alumni from a wide range of years to get to know each other and their new Regional Manager, Amit Caraco. 

The Palestinian meeting focused on discussing topics such as the political differences between different areas of West Bank/Palestine and about other current topics of interest such as the status of Jerusalem.  The content was created by older alumni and presented to program participants primarily from 2016 and 2017, as a follow-up to alumni discussion at the Fall Alumni Seminar.
Chicago Updates and 
Upcoming Events
HOPEducation Movie Night
"With God on Our Side"
Monday, February 19, 2018, 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Mayflower Room (Lower Level)
Glenview Community Church
1000 Elm St., Glenview, IL 60025

On this President's Day, HOPEducation Chicago will look at how  Christian ideology has made its way into U.S. foreign policy. "With God on Our Side" takes a look at the theology of Christian Zionism, the belief that, because the Jews are God's chosen people, the modern nation-state of Israel deserves unconditional support. What are the intended and unintended consequences of such religiously influenced policies on peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians? Discussion will follow the film.   To register for this event, please RSVP here via our Facebook link or to  Rhonda McCarty .

Chicago Updates
Alumni Connections

In January, Chicago Hands of Peace alumni spent an afternoon together discussing a plethora of topics. Want to know what 2007-2015 Chicago alumni talk about when they get together? Middle East Studies, psychology, refugees, DACA, rebuilding infrastructure in post-conflict zones, Medical School, the Women's March, food and farming. There is no shortage of conversation!
San Diego Updates and 
Upcoming Events
HOPEducation & PAX Christi Movie Night
"The Sultan and The Saint"
Wednesday, February 21, 2018, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
St. James Catholic Church Parish Hall
625 Nardo Ave., Solana Beach, CA 92075

Join us for a community screening of "The Sultan and the Saint," a true story of Muslim and Christian peace making. An acclaimed film that has received over 19 awards and been featured on PBS, the story follows two men of faith, one a traveling Christian preacher, the other the ruler of a Muslim Empire, who bucked a century of war, distrust, and insidious propaganda in a search for mutual respect and common ground. It is the story of Francis of Assisi and the Sultan of Egypt, and their meeting on a bloody battlefield during the period of Christian-Muslim conflict known as the Crusades. Light refreshments will be provided and the screening will begin promptly at 6:45 p.m. A short discussion will follow the film. To register for this event, please  RSVP  here via our Facebook link. or to Sarah Heirendt. This event is sponsored by Hands of Peace and Pax Christi San Diego.

San Diego Updates
San Diego alumni and supporters have been busy participating in different community events and alumni opportunities. On December 6, alumni spent the day with 3rd - 5th graders at LePort Montessori in Carlsbad, brainstorming and working on a mural project. Read this story and others in the  Hands of Peace New Bureau.  Over 100 community members also attended two HOPEducation events in January. 

Co-hosted by  St. Andrews Episcopal Church and  Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Hands of Peace was proud to organize an interfaith panel with Christian, Jewish and Muslim panelists. The panel was asked about the role of religion in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict as well as their hope for the future. Panelists included Reverend Daren Erisman, Rabbi Philip Graubart, and Imam Fayaz Nawabi. Hands of Peace alumni then shared their experience and transformative change as a result of being in the program. The event was attended by over seventy community members. 

Hands of Peace also sponsored a community screening of "Seeing Through the Wall: Meeting Ourselves in Israel & Palestine." The film follows a group of Americans as they embark on a dual narrative tour of both Israel and Palestine and their challenging on-the-ground observation of the conflict. The film was followed by a discussion where those in attendance expressed valuable diverse perspectives. 

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