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

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March, 2017

Executive Director Update
Creative Fundraising - Falafel Style
We are always impressed with the creative ways the Hands of Peace community finds to support our programs - both through volunteering and through financial support.  In January, we learned of a truly unique fundraiser in New York on behalf of Hands of Peace.  No carwashes.  No cookie sales.   Just some very special falafels, courtesy of an up and coming chef originally from Glenview, Illinois.

San Diego Benefit Recap
What a magical time we spent on March 5th for the San Diego benefit, as 150 guests enjoyed a perfect evening "Under the Middle Eastern Sky" at the San Diego Central Library overlooking Coronado Bay. It was a night of celebration and inspiration from Olive Branch Award recipient, Azim Khamisa. Of course, having our own Hands of Peace alumni there reminds us how important it is to invest in empowering young people to be leaders of change. Through generous contributions, we raised more than $44,000 to support our San Diego summer program. WOW! That is what inspires us all.

If you didn't donate during the evening and would like to now,  you may donate here.

Summer Program Help
Do 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 the 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.

Alumni Profile - Emily Kenward, 2016 XL
Emily Kenward was a 2015 Hand and 2016 XL who is now studying  at Tulane University. Emily realized that getting involved with Hands of Peace taught her how to confidently advocate for what she believes. She realized that being able to learn about and dialogue about the conflict is something that she is passionate about, and has made it a priority to continue pursuing activities related to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
This semester at Tulane, Emily is taking a class called Arab/Israeli Conflict, which discusses the history of Jews and Israel, the Palestinian story, and the start and continuation of the conflict, and she has attended several lectures by prominent educators about the conflict. These learning experiences have parlayed into Emily's latest endeavor, to establish a new interfaith Peace and Social Justice club that will allow students the opportunity to dialogue openly on campus. Working closely with an Israeli staff member to bring a more pluralistic view of Israel to campus, the first initiative is to host a screening of the movie "The Other Son," which will be followed by a short dialogue about the ideas brought up in the film.
Emily is an example of how to take the valuable skills learned during summers with Hands of Peace to create a voice on campus and present opportunities for other students to become informed and involved. She continues to spread the power of dialogue throughout her campus, making an impact in her community.
She is striving to be back in  Israel this summer for an intensive Arab/Israeli conflict study abroad opportunity called the Mandel/Palagye Program in Middle East Peace. Following the three-week course in Israel,  Emily will of course extend her trip to visit as many Hands of Peace friends as possible! 

Middle East Updates
Hands of Peace has set a new record for applications during 2017.  More than 300 teenagers applied for spots in the first or second year programs in Chicago and San Diego this summer.   While the final number of spots for this summer is still being determined, we can tell you that last year we had capacity for 88 young leaders.   That means that more than two-thirds of applicants each year are not accepted into our competitive program.   Your ongoing support will allow us to continue to push the envelope to bring as many young leaders as possible to the U.S.   Decisions on the second year (XL) program have already been announced.  Decisions on the first year (Hands) program are expected in the next week.
Chicago Updates and 
Upcoming Events
Concert for Peace: We're Still Here
Free will donation to benefit Hands of Peace
Sunday, March 19, 2017 at 3:00 PM
Glenview Community Church
Photo Credit Marc Perlish
The Simple Gifts Concert Series of the Glenview Community Church hosts a concert exploring the theme of "peace" on Sunday, March 19th at 3:00pm.  Violinist Katherine Hughes, saxophonist Kevin Kizer, the HAWK String Quartet (Carol Kalvonjian, violinist, Benton Wedge, violist, and Jill Kaeding, cellist), organist Gary Wendt, jazz vocalist Jade Maze, and the rhythm section of Kent Wehman, Ken Haebich, and Neal Wehman perform songs about peace in a variety of styles, from traditional to contemporary. Collaborating with these musicians will be representatives of different faith communities including Hazzan Roger Weisberg from Congregation Beth Judea in Long Grove and participants from the Turkish American Society in Mount Prospect. And enjoy an accompanying art show, curated by Pat Albano from Aaron Galleries in Glenview.  A free-will offering benefits Hands of Peace.

HOPEducation Event:  Chicago Alumni Share about their Israel-Palestine Trip
Wednesday, April 5, 2017 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Glenview Public Library 
1930 Glenview Rd, Glenview
Please join us for an evening of reflection as our Chicago alumni discuss their recent visit to Israel-Palestine. For the first time ever Chicago and San Diego alumni went on a dual narrative trip to the region. Hear about the Chicago alumni experience and see photos of their incredible journey. Highlights from this trip include: staying with host families in the region, visiting fellow alumni and a packed itinerary that included time in Jerusalem, Nablus, Haifa and Tel Aviv. RSVP to Rhonda McCarty.
San Diego Updates and 
Upcoming Events
Peace Heroes Walk
Sunday, March 19, 2017 1:00pm - 3:30pm
Magee Park, Carlsbad
The Peace Heroes Walk is a joint initiative between the 21st Century Peace Literacy Foundation and San Diego Rotarians. Peace heroes are people from all walks of life who have taken risks to embody nonviolent ideas (justice, reconciliation, interconnection and rejection of vengeance) and have succeeded in making the world a less violent and more just place. We will honor heroes like Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Malala and HOP Founder Gretchen Grad, by carrying signs with their images and quotes. While Peace Heroes Walks have been held in other cities, this will be the first time for San Diego and we want you to be a part of it.  We have many common interests and we welcome your participation. 

This event is free and open to the public. Wear your favorite peace themed T-shirt. There will be live entertainment and a 2 mile walk starting from the Gazebo. If you have any questions please reach out to our walk organizers at

HOPEducation Event: San Diego Alumni Share About Their Israel-Palestine Trip 
Sunday, April 23, 2017 - 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Temple Solel
3575 Manchester Ave., Cardiff by the Sea
Please join us for an evening of reflection as our San Diego alumni discuss their recent visit to Israel-Palestine. For the first time ever Chicago and San Diego alumni went on a dual narrative trip to the region. Hear about the San Diego alumni experience and see photos of their incredible journey. Highlights from this trip include: staying with host families in the region, visiting fellow alumni and a packed itinerary that included time in Jerusalem, Nablus, Haifa and Tel Aviv.  RSVP to  Sarah Heirendt .

HOPEducation Book Club
Sunday, April 30, 2017 at 5:00pm
Residence of Jenny Parker
San Diego Book Club  is reading "Lawrence in Arabia" by Scott Anderson.  The Arab Revolt against the Turks in World War I was, in the words of T. E. Lawrence, "a sideshow of a sideshow." As a result, the conflict was shaped to a remarkable degree by a small handful of adventurers and low-level officers far removed from the corridors of power.  At the center of it all was Lawrence himself. In early 1914 he was an archaeologist excavating ruins in Syria; by 1917 he was riding into legend at the head of an Arab army as he fought a rearguard action against his own government and its imperial ambitions.  Based on four years of intensive primary document research, " Lawrence in Arabia"  definitively overturns received wisdom on how the modern Middle East was formed. Please bring a dish to share, and  RSVP to  Eileen Maurer.

HOPEducation Night with Peter Bolland
Sunday, May 7, 2017 at 5:00pm
Christ Presbyterian Church
7807 Centella St., Carlsbad
Please join us for the next HOPEducation event featuring Peter Bolland! His lecture will explore building peace with insights from the world's wisdom traditions. What practical advice do the world's religions and philosophies offer when it comes to the vexing problem of mending old wounds and healing painful conflicts? It is often lamented that our religious diversity is the source of so much of the animosity in the world, but the fact remains, it is from deep within those very same spiritual and religious traditions that the medicine comes to heal our woundedness. Please join us for this insightful, thought-provoking and engaging exploration!  RSVP to  Sarah Heirendt .

Bolland is the chair of the humanities department and a professor of philosophy and humanities at Southwestern College where he teaches world religions, world mythology, ethics, and Asian philosophy. Bolland is also a columnist for both Unity Magazine and the San Diego Troubadour as well as an award winning singer-songwriter and poet. Bolland brings all of these threads together with frequent public speaking, performing, and teaching presentations in the wider community, including a bi-monthly Satsang (guided meditation workshop) at Vision: A Center for Spiritual Living. All of his published writing can be seen on his blog "Thinking Through," and a complete calendar of upcoming events is available at

EDArticleExecutive Director Update (continued)
Molly Yeh grew up in Glenview, Illinois - the hometown of Hands of Peace.   Molly is a true foodie, having written cookbooks and food blogs for several years including Molly on the Range, one of the New York Times' top fall cookbook releases of 2016.  Her food blog,  my name is yeh, has received multiple blog of the year awards.  
Molly befriended owner/chef Eitam Admony of Taim in New York City.  When Eitam decided to launch a fundraiser and invite young chefs to create a "falafel of the month", Molly was asked to create a falafel for January.   Molly created a winter falafel with ingredients available year round, including lemon yogurt, spicy pickled onions, and fresh mint.  Her special falafel was a hit, with 1,037 sold during the month.   Accordingly, Taim donated $1,037 for Molly's charity of choice - Hands of Peace.
I asked Molly how she chose Hands of Peace, never having participated in our program when she was in high school.
"As a member of the Jewish community, I've always really cared for Israel. Growing up, going to camp and Sunday school and such, we're taught about fun Hebrew words and we sing about Masada and stuff.  Palestine wasn't really talked about and when it was it was because of news coverage that was always scary. So when I finally went and visited for the first time, in my early 20s, I gained a deeper understanding of the history and political climate. And I met Palestinians and spoke to Israelis who had spent time in the West Bank, and learned how similar we really were. And around this time I was also gaining a social media following through my blog, and at first I blindly started calling all of the food that I had eaten in Israel "Israeli."  And I started getting comments telling me how wrong I was, how this dish actually comes from this or that country.  And I was like WHOA even chickpeas carry political weight. So I did some more research to understand all of this. I asked a bunch of people what they thought, and I learned just how sensitive literally every single food is. So throughout all of this, through meeting Palestinians and Israelis, and learning about the politics through the lens of food, I've learned how much work needs to be done towards the understanding and communication between the Israeli and Palestinian communities, and how much I care about peace in the Middle East. So when I was asked to choose an organization for my Taim collaboration, I asked my mom which one would be best for this and she pointed me to Hands of Peace!" 
We are so extremely grateful to Molly (and Molly's mother!!) for thinking of us.  And thanks to ALL of the Mollys out there who find exciting and innovative ways to support Hands of Peace as we strive for Freedom, Justice, Equality and Peace for all Palestinians and Israelis.

Please feel free to reach out to me at any time at

Shalom, Salaam, Peace,  

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