Important Dates to Remember:

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

Join us in Chicago or San Diego  
Farewell Celebration 
July 29, 2018

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May , 2018

Executive Director Update
As I near the two-year mark in my role as Executive Director of this amazing organization, there are many parts of the job that feel natural to me.  We are blessed with a hard-working and dedicated staff, tremendous volunteers and supporters, and participants and alumni who continue to find ways to raise their voices as leaders of change.  
As I guide Hands of Peace during its 15th anniversary year, perhaps my biggest challenge is avoiding saying something that will alienate some in our community.  We are an organization that represents a broad spectrum of nationalities, ethnicities, religious traditions, and political perspectives.  Our role generally requires us to stay near the sidelines so that all in our community feel safe sharing their own opinions and experiences.  So how do I handle this month's column?   Sure, I can write about our program growth or tell stories about our Spring Benefits in Chicago and San Diego that would be uplifting.  While I guarantee those stories would not offend anyone, they would sound hollow when measured against the events from last week.  How can I ignore the divergent pictures of joy and despair, of celebration and devastation that emerged from Israel/Palestine last Tuesday?   I cannot honor the efforts of our young leaders - Israeli, Palestinian and American - by ignoring what occurred at the Gaza border, instead writing only about pleasantries.  I would be roundly and rightly criticized.  So let me start here:
In December, the Hands of Peace Board of Directors released a   statement  concerning the U.S. government's announcement on Jerusalem.   The feedback to our statement was mostly, but not universally, supportive.  Our premise for not endorsing the government's decision was that it was inconsistent with our   Common Values,  which hold that all people deserve justice, equality, self-determination and basic human rights.  It was our perspective, and one shared by the vast majority of professionals who work closely with Israelis and Palestinians, that the unilateral action of the U.S. government ceding Jerusalem to Israel missed an opportunity to advocate for both sides of this conflict.  Experience has taught us that one-sided actions have significant negative short- and long-term consequences. While long-term consequences are yet to be seen, the images of smiling government officials juxtaposed with pictures of Gazans carrying their wounded and their dead will forever be engrained in my mind. Whether one faults the U.S. government, or the Israeli government, or Hamas, or all of the above, it is hard to comprehend the statement that "It's a great day for peace."   For those in favor of the embassy move at this time, it may have felt like a great day.  But for peace?   Last week was a significant step backwards.
So what does Hands of Peace do now?  We continue to empower more young leaders of change, helping them find and use their voices both within their own societies and across societies.  We move forward in preparing this summer's delegations that will arrive in Chicago and San Diego in less than two months.  And we continue to provide support and guidance for Hands of Peace alumni as they intellectually and emotionally process recent events.   I have confidence that, in time, each will find a way to navigate these new challenges and grow as the young leaders I know they are.  

Peace, Shalom, Salaam,

 Hands of Peace News and Updates
Benefits Celebrate 15 Years

Thanks to you, our incredibly supportive San Diego and  Chicago communities, both Hands of Peace Benefits were filled to capacity.

Peace Grows Here at the Chicago Botanic Garden raised more than $150,000 that directly benefits young leaders. Giving included an $11,000 matching fund from friends of Hands of Peace in Naples, FL, coordinated by new board member Kathryn Bettis. The highlight of the evening for over 300 guests was the series of reflections from the outstanding alumni who are putting their Hands of Peace experience to work in their adult lives. What a treat to have alumni Shira Gemer and Samar Hawila join us to share how Hands of Peace has impacted their lives, and their career paths.

Ride the Peace Train at the Crossings in Carlsbad raised more than $100,000 as it moves into its fifth summer program, double the amount raised at last year's benefit. Founder Gretchen Grad interviewed Michael Rattner and Jordan Feffer about their experience on the spring Hands of Peace multiple narrative tour in Israel/Palestine for American alumni.  At the event, we saw what happens when a few hundred people come together to create change, to invest in future leaders and to move the needle at a grassroots level. This is Hands of Peace.

We want to extend deep gratitude to the many volunteers, sponsors, guests and auction donors whose work and contributions are making it possible to run the  San Diego and Chicago Summer Programs and provide important followup programming for alumni. You are empowering Israeli, Palestinian and American youth as leaders of change!

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 and all lunches are catered by teams of amazing volunteers. You can take part by 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 participants and staff while keeping down costs for the program. Meals can be purchased or home cooked with attention to some 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.

Tax-Free Charitable IRA Distributions =
Win-Win Philanthropy
Would you like to sponsor one or more Hands of Peace participants and save on taxes?  Individual Retirement Account (IRA) owners who are at least 70 1/2 years old can make tax free transfers of up to $100,000 per year from your IRA to qualified charitable organizations like Hands of Peace. 
Donating IRA funds directly to a charity can satisfy your required minimum distribution and lower taxes.   Ask your IRA administrator what steps you need to taxes.

You can also name Hands of Peace as a beneficiary of your IRA for a specified amount upon death. 

Your gift will not only reduce taxes -- you also will be leaving a legacy of peace.

Volunteer Spotlight
Congratulations to long-time Hands of Peace Volunteer Irene Smith, who was recently named Winnetka's Woman of the Year by the North Shore village's Chamber of Commerce.
The 2018 Summer Program will mark the 10th year that Irene has rallied a huge group of donors and volunteers to host a fabulous barbeque at Elder Lane Park for the participants. This event is one of the most memorable for the teens, who need enjoyable activities and good food at the end of long, sometimes very intense, days.
In addition to Kosher and Halal hot dogs, hamburgers, side dishes, desserts and beverages, Irene's team serves up instruction and coaching in softball, musical entertainment and plenty of opportunities for Hands of Peace participants to get acquainted with members of her own community.
The barbeque is also a treat for Hands of Peace staff, who have only a minor role: to get the participants to the park and watch them enjoy their day.
In addition to providing this spectacular event, Irene and her husband Tom were a Host Family in 2009. Perhaps this led to their passion for hosting international guests at the Nielsen Pro Tennis Tournament on a regular basis.
Irene has also served on the Winnetka Community House Woman's Board for many years.
Irene noted, "I was surprised and humbled by this award.  I was so grateful that Gretchen Grad could attend the ceremony.  It gave me the opportunity to thank her, in a very public way, for all the good she does in this world."
Your award is well deserved, Irene. We, at Hands of Peace, appreciate the outstanding work that you do in your community to bring people together and the many ways that you have mobilized others to be leaders for change.

Chicago Updates and 
Upcoming Events
HOPEducation Event
An Evening With Our Executive Director
Monday, June 4, 2018 or Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Both Sessions will run 7:00-8:45 p.m.
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church 
2328 Central Rd, Glenview, IL 60025

At the conclusion of this month's Chicago Benefit with more than 20 HOP alumni in attendance, the most frequent question was "How can I find out more about the work Hands of Peace does after the Summer Program ends?"   Join Executive Director Rick Rosenfeld for an informal discussion of  HOP's past, present and future work with our alumni -- our goals and our aspirations.  During increasingly challenging times, our alumni continue to be beacons of hope as they learn how to use their voices as leaders of change. Please RSVP for the evening of your choosing to Rhonda McCarty.

HOPEducation Community Event
Film Screening: The Promised Band
Sunday, May 27, 2018, 7:00-9:00pm
Chicago Filmmakers Theatre
5720 N. Ridge Avenue, Chicago

Jen Heck's 2016 fascinating and hilarious documentary follows a group of Israeli and Palestinian women who form a fake rock band in order to meet and socialize. "The Promised Band" documents this group of adventurous and idealistic women as they forge connections across cultures, religion, and physical and political borders; learn how to actually become a believable band; and continually place themselves in jeopardy as they place their human similarities above the differences ingrained by decades of divide. Following the film, Hands of Peace Program Director Julia Duerst will facilitate a Q&A with the film's creators (and 2016 Hands of Peace Benefit speakers) Jen Heck and Maria De La O. For more information,  visit our Facebook event page or contact  Rhonda McCarty.

San Diego Updates and 
Upcoming Events
HOPEducation Event
Harmony in Action Cross-Cultural Non-Profits Fair
Saturday, May 26, 2018, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Balboa Park - Patio B
Harmony in Action is an annual event that brings together a large number of internationally focused non-profits that operate in the San Diego area. It's a day to meet the staffs of these non-profits, find out about their organizations' missions and how they put those missions into action. Harmony in Action is an opportunity to learn how YOU can get involved in the world-changing work of these organizations. To top it off, Harmony in Action will also feature international dance performances each hour. Hands of Peace will have an information table -- st op by to say hello. To find out more  click here.  

HOPEducation Event
Dish & A Story
Tuesday, June 12, 2018, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Christ Presbyterian Church
HOPEducation Book Club
"My Promised Land" by Ari Shavit
Monday, June 25, 2018, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Residence of Jenny Parker
Join us for our next Book Club, where we will be reading "My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel" by Ari Shavit. Ari draws on interviews, historical documents, private diaries and letters, as well as his own family's 
story, illuminating the pivotal moments of the Zionist century to tell a riveting narrative that is larger than the sum of its parts: both personal and national, both deeply human and of profound historical dimension. As it examines the complexities and contradictions of the Israeli condition, "My Promised Land" asks difficult but important questions: Why did Israel come to be? How did it come to be? Can Israel survive? Culminating with an analysis of the issues and threats that Israel is currently facing, "My Promised Land" uses the defining events of the past to shed new light on the present. To register for this event contact Sarah Heirendt.

To volunteer with Hands of Peace, please click here!
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