Important Dates to Remember:

Summer Program Dates for 2017 are
July 12th - 
 July 31st

Farewell Celebrations at both sites will be held on Sunday, July 30th

2018 Dual Narrative Trip to Israel/Palestine
October 21 - November 1, 2018

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June, 2017

Executive Director Update
Four weeks from today, the Hands of Peace summer program begins!!  This will be the 15th summer in Chicago and the 4th summer in San Diego.   A record 96 Palestinians, Palestinian Citizens of Israel, Jewish Israelis and Americans are slated to participate this year.  Flights have been ticketed.  Visas have been obtained.  Host families have communicated with their participants.  And the U.S. staff is busily making final preparations.
For those families in the Chicago and San Diego areas who are not hosting, there are still ways you can get involved.   Consider providing a meal or volunteering.   If you haven't contributed recently, you can still make a donation to help us reach our goal of fully funding this summer's program.   In addition, we strongly encourage everyone who will be in Chicago or San Diego to attend one of our farewell celebrations on Sunday, July 30.   This is a tremendous opportunity to meet our brave young people who are choosing to spend their summer challenging long-held assumptions and learning to listen.
We will set another new record this year:  There are SEVEN Hands of Peace alumni returning as staff this summer!   We are humbled by how many of our alums choose to make Hands of Peace an ongoing part of their lives.   We are sharing their profiles with you below.  Please reach out to me with any comments or questions at

Shalom, Salaam, Peace,

Alumni Turn Staff!
We are thrilled to have an incredible summer staff to support our program this summer. And we are so fortunate to welcome several alumni that are returning to the Hands of Peace Family as staff. We wanted to highlight their exciting return to HOP in this month's newsletter as we prepare for our 2017 Summer Program!

Ilor Arbel - Jewish Israeli Chaperone (Chicago)
"After participating in Hands of Peace at 2010 my interior life and direction changed.  Every step I took from there was some how related to the conflict or education and working with youth.  After years now of working with special needs youth, autistic kids and even as a substitute teacher in elementary school I'm very excited to return to the HOP family." 

Mohammed Atera - Palestinian Chaperone (Chicago)
Mohammed is currently an energy engineering student and is an Eras mus student studying in France. He was a participant in 2011 and an XL in 2012. He has decided to continue his work with HOP because seeing these teenagers talking and getting together after what they have been through in their lives gives him a massive amount of hope for a better future for all.  During his year in France, Mohammed figured out that he felt a need to pay back HOP for all the experience that was given to him that helped him to survive in France and there is no way better to pay it forward then to come back for a summer program!

Julia Photo
Julia Duerst - Chicago Program Director
Julia joined staff in October 2015. As the year-round Chicago Program Director, she recruits our American participants, coordinates the activities, events, and volunteers of the Summer Program with Site Director Rhonda McCarty, and develops and facilitates their preparatory and follow-up curriculum. This includes co-chaperoning American alumni on HOP's program to Israel/Palestine and co-teaching an Independent Study course on Israel/Palestine at local high schools. Julia graduated from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR with a BA in History and Religious Studies. As a 2009 Hand and 2010 XL, she is excited to have returned to HOP in a role that allows her to expand conversation and access to information surrounding social justice for current participants and alumni.

Rana Haddad - Palestinian Citizens of Israel Regional Manager (Chicago and San Diego)
Rana Haddad is the Palestinian Citizens of Israel Regional Manager for Hands of Peace. She began her career with Hands of Peace as a participant in 2003 and an XL in 2004. She then came back as a chaperone in 2008, and was promoted to Regional Manager in 2009.  She balances her job as a pharmacist with her work for Hands of Peace and continues to help develop young leaders dedicated to peace in the Middle East.

Elias Hawila - Facilitator (San Diego)
Elias participated in our program in 2004 and 2005, returned as a Chaperone in 2012, and will be a Facilitator this summer. He participated in a two year extensive facilitation course and had the chance to facilitate with Seeds of Peace in 2014, and is excited to bring his training and expertise to HOP. Mohammed  continues to search for ways to do something to change the dire situation Israelis and Palestinians find themselves in and "staying in involved with HOP can promote that needed change and exemplify how Palestinians and Israelis can work together to make that change happen."

Amreen Khadeer - Assistant Program Director (Chicago)
"With ear s ready to listen and hands willing to lend help, my return to HOP will once again bring a new change for myself. My name is Amreen Khadeer and I am a student at University of Illinois at Chicago, my life goal is to make a difference in the world. To bring positive impacts to lives, I pursue to be a teacher for high-school students and want to open minds of individuals one by one. Hands of Peace brought change to me where I was able to be open and reflect on my thoughts and I hope to continue to grow and foster peace."

Zoe Reinstein - Assistant Program Director (Chicago)
Zoë participated in Hands of Peace in 2013, and is so excited to be returning to this summer as an Assistant Program Director. Zoë just completed her undergraduate degree in Politics and Middle Eastern Studies at Oberlin College in Ohio, and has also worked and studied in Amman, Jordan and most recently in Muscat, Oman. She is passionate about cross-cultural communication and understanding, and is looking forward to a great summer with Hands of Peace.

Summer Program Help
mealDo you want to personally get involved with our summer program? Young people in dialogue, team-building and leadership activities work up quite an appetite! Because neither of our sites allows for a built-in lunch program that meets these needs, all lunches during the summer program are catered by a team of amazing volunteers. This July we are offering the unique opportunity to provide a meal to our incredible youth during the summer program.  This entails supplying a meal and bringing it to the program site where you can enjoy it with the participants. Lunch is always high energy and fun and provides the perfect opportunity for you to get to know our participants and staff while helping contribute to our organization!  Meals can be purchased or home-cooked but many of our appetites come with special dietary needs. Lunch on a typical day feeds 60 people. To learn more, please contact Rhonda McCarty in Chicago  or Sarah Heirendt in San Diego.  

Chicago Updates and 
Upcoming Events
Join us for our Farewell Celebration
Sunday, July 30 5:30 - 8:00pm
Glenbrook South High School
4000 West Lake Ave, Glenview
Please join us at the culmination of our summer program, as we bring together our local community and supporters and gather to honor our 2017 participants. Hear moving reflections, view powerful two-minute films, and learn first hand from the Israeli, Palestinian and American participants what Hands of Peace means to them. Students age 18 and younger are admitted free of charge!

San Diego Updates and 
Upcoming Events
HOPEducation Movie Night at The Farm
"Disturbing the Peace"
Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 5:30pm
Leichtag Foundation
441 Saxony Road
Disturbing the Peace trailer
Please join us for a Leichtag foundation sponsored event: movie night at the farm! We will be screening  "Disturbing the Peace", a film which follows former enemy combatants - Israeli soldiers from elite units and Palestinian fighters, many of whom served years in prison - who have joined together to challenge the status quo and say "enough." The film reveals their transformational journeys from soldiers committed to armed battle to nonviolent peace activists, leading to the creation of Combatants for Peace. This event is free and  open  to the public. Refreshments will be served and there will be a short discussion following the film. Please RSVP to this event for directions and additional information to Sarah Heirendt

Join us for our Farewell Celebration
Sunday, July 30 5:00 - 7:30pm
Temple Solel
3575 Manchester Ave, Cardiff by the Sea
Please join us at the culmination of our summer program, as we bring together our local community and supporters and gather to honor our 2017 participants. Hear moving reflections, view powerful two-minute films, and learn first hand from the Israeli, Palestinian and American participants what Hands of Peace means to them. Students age 18 and younger are admitted free of charge!

Join Hands of Peace For Our Next Tour of Israel and Palestine - 
October 21 - November 1, 2018
Customized for our supporters,  the 2018 Dual Narrative Tour will offer a combination of rich historical, cultural, and spiritual experiences, along with encounters that help us to better understand the current political reality. Places on the tour will be filled on a first come, first served basis. Trip size is capped at 30 participants, so contact  Gretchen Grad  if you are interested in joining us as we travel through this fascinating land. For more information,  click here.
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