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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May, 2017

Executive Director Update
Seeing Hands of Peace in 4D
HOP supporters often ask me where our third site will be.  With San Diego now matching Chicago as a full-sized site since last summer, people wonder where we will go next.  New York?  Washington?  Detroit?  My answer has been that we already have a third site:  Israel/Palestine.   Sure, the nature of our programs is different in the Middle East than it is in the United States.  We have a series of overnight and one-day seminars and meetings, instead of an intensive three-week program.   And we have a less robust volunteer and homestay network overseas.  But the work we do among Israelis and Palestinians on their home turf is as critical as the work we do on the west side of the Atlantic.  But if Israel/Palestine is our third dimension, what does a fourth dimension look like?

Hands of Peace UnGala
We are forgoing our annual gala to focus solely on raising funds for our 2017 summer program so, spend a quiet evening at home but please support Hands of Peace 2017 Summer Program.

The great thing about an UnGala is that it is virtual, so there is no hard deadline. If you missed the May 15th date, but want to make a donation there is still time! Every dollar donated will directly impact our 2017 Summer Program! Click here to donate!

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 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.

Generous Offer by Long-time HOP Supporter and Author Michael Lauesen
Michael Lauesen, a long-time HOP supporter and host family, has written a new book  Getting off the Treadmill - Escaping the Race to Nowhere The book, which is available on Amazon, focuses on ways to become more aware of the joys that life has to offer.  Rich with anecdotes, Michael includes references to his Hands of Peace experience in the book. HOP is so grateful for the impact we have made on Michael and his wife Barbara.   Note that for a limited time, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to HOP. As an extra bonus, if you purchase through Amazon smile and designate Hands of Peace as your charity of choice, Amazon  will donate  a percentage of the sale back to Hands of Peace.

Middle East Updates
In April, nearly 35 alumni attended a one-day HOP seminar in Jerusalem.  The theme was Personal Responsibility, and the younger alumni spent the full day with speakers and workshops on the topic.  Our older alumni spent the afternoon discussing ways they can enhance their involvement in working toward peace - both within and outside of the HOP organization.
One example of enhanced alumni involvement occurred within two weeks of the seminar.   HOP is building a relationship with Telos Group, an organization that promotes itself as "Pro Israeli, Pro Palestinian, Pro Peace".   A major part of Telos' methodology is bringing groups of American leaders, most frequently from churches, to the Middle East for a multi-narrative experience.  During April, our Palestinian Regional Manager Hoda Barakat had an opportunity to join one of the Telos programs for dinner in Jerusalem.   During May, another Telos group arrived from the U.S. and two of our alumni - Ilor Arbel and Omar Jabareen - were able to attend and represent Hands of Peace at another Jerusalem dinner.    
Even though the American group had been on the ground for less than 48 hours, Ilor and Omar had their table riveted in deep conversation for two hours about Israel/Palestine and about Hands of Peace.   "The Telos group seemed really glad that they had this kind of opportunity.  They reacted with sympathy and showed agreement with what we presented," Omar said.   
"One of the questions that came up was 'how can we help if we don't know which side is right?'," Ilor added.  "Meeting with HOP gave them the opportunity to see that it is not about helping one side or the other, it's about helping the peace process via engagement with organizations like ours.   I felt honored to represent Hands of Peace."
We expect more opportunities like this for our alumni, as we continue to grow our network and outreach.

Chicago Updates and 
Upcoming Events
Chicago Friends of HOP
Tuesday, May 30, 2017 - 6:15pm - 9:00pm
Muslim Community Center (Morton Grove)
Please join us at the fifth annual Interfaith Iftar at the Muslim Community Center. This will include a festive dinner while listening to stories from different faith leaders. To make proper food arrangements, we kindly request your RSVP through evite by May 17th. As this event is during the Holy month of Ramadan, Muslims will fast from dawn till sunset and will break their fast at sunset. We will have vegetarian items for any of our vegetarian friends. Please feel free to share this invitation with your family, friends and neighbors.

San Diego Updates and 
Upcoming Events
HOPEducation: Chat & Chow
Wednesday, June 14, 2017 - 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Christ Presbyterian Church
7807 Centella Street
Please join us for a potluck dinner to share delicious home-cooked food and get acquainted with new and returning members of the Hands of Peace community! At this potluck dinner, past host families will have time to share their thoughts about their hosting experiences. This is a great opportunity for past and future host families, staff and other members of the San Diego Hands of Peace community to get to know each other better. Please bring a dish to share. Everyone welcome!

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

EDArticleExecutive Director Update (continued)
As Hands of Peace matures, we will continue to help build the Middle East as our third dimension.   But we can't overlook a very important fourth dimension:  how Hands of Peace operates outside of itself, and how Hands of Peace interacts with others on the journey toward freedom, equality and justice for all Palestinians and all Israelis.
In recent months, our management team has stepped up efforts to engage other organizations, learning how our alumni might benefit from joint activities and joint programs.  The phrase in the non-profit sector is "collective impact" - partnering together to increase the magnitude of change.  During my April trip to the region, our regional managers joined me for a series of meetings in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv discussing potential opportunities with other organizations.  In the months ahead, we look forward to sharing with you - and with our alumni - concrete results from these conversations.   
Networking and partnering is not only an objective for our Israeli/Palestinian alumni, but is a goal for our American alumni as well.   Our Site Directors in Chicago and San Diego are constantly on the lookout for opportunities for our alumni to engage in social justice programs in their own communities.
I expect you will see many results when we begin the new school year in the Fall.   While most of what you will hear in the next two months will be focused on the summer program - now just 8 weeks away - remember that Hands of Peace is a year-round enterprise.   The critical work we do during the summer is just the first step on a lifetime journey for our young people in Chicago, in San Diego, in Israel/Palestine, and in the broader network of peacebuilders in the Middle East.

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

Shalom, Salaam, Peace,  

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