Important Dates to Remember:

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

Applications for 2017 Summer Program  are available on our website.

For Host Family applications click here.

For American Participant applications click here.

For Palestinian Participant applications
click here.

For Palestinian Citizen of Israel applications click here.

For Jewish Israel applications click here.

For XL Applications click here.

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November, 2016

Message from Hands of Peace
Following the U.S. presidential election, we have received questions from our supporters regarding what the outcome will mean for Hands of Peace. As an organization, we remain dedicated to developing peacebuilding and leadership skills among Palestinian, Israeli and American teens. We will continue to empower our young people to raise their voices as leaders of change and encourage all of our supporters to remain steadfast in their commitment to achieving freedom, equality and a just and positive peace for all Palestinians and Israelis.
Executive Director Update
Last week, I returned from my first trip to the Middle East in my role as Executive Director, and got home just in time to watch the final two innings of Game 7 of the World Series.  As a long-time Cubs fan, how could I have possibly scheduled my trip to completely overlap with the World Series?   The answer, as I told those who asked, was easy:  "Peace > Cubs".    Had you told me a year earlier that I would have prioritized ANYTHING ahead of watching the Cubs battle for a national title, I never would have believed it.  But the HOP stories are so compelling, there is nowhere else I would rather have been.
The core purpose of my trip was to attend the first regional seminar of the 2017 Fiscal Year.  "You came all the way over here for a seminar?" one of the alums asked me incredulously.   Absolutely.   Symbolically, the seminar represents the most important "next step" after the summer program.  Hands and XLs have an opportunity to get back together, to continue building momentum, and to talk about new opportunities for creating a just and positive peace.   At this particular seminar more than 80 alums, chaperones and facilitators attended - smashing all previous attendance records.   Such strong attendance is critical as we begin to build stronger opportunities for our alums to make a difference.   Enthusiasm and energy were off the charts, and I am so proud of every alum who has committed to be a leader of change.
After the seminar, I boarded the bus with the Palestinian delegation for the checkpoint at Qalandia.  I spent the next three days visiting the Palestinian cities of Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem, and Hebron.  I had an opportunity to meet with both our HOP network as well as Palestinian business professionals in my own personal dual narrative tour.  Good people with big hearts.  The experience was both educational and humbling, and reinforced the need for all of us to work for freedom, equality, justice and peace for all Israelis and Palestinians. Thank you all for being part of the Hands of Peace journey!

Hands of Peace News and Updates
#Giving Tuesday
This time of year, as we become inundated with ads about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday is a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy around the world, highlighted on this one particular day, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. This year, on Tuesday, November 29th, Hands of Peace will be a part of this growing revolution. By harnessing the potential of social media, we will provide a platform for all of our supporters to encourage their friends to learn about Hands of Peace and to consider us in their year-end giving. Please keep an eye out for a separate email that will explain how you can help us by spreading the word about Hands of Peace.

We are utilizing the power of #GivingTuesday to kick off our annual appeal, which will arrive in your mailbox soon. A generous response to this appeal is critical to support the work our teens begin during our summer programs and pursue throughout the year with seminars, alumni programming and leadership development. Every donation moves us one step closer to a just and positive peace!

Recruitment for 2017 Summer Program
Do you know a teen between the ages of 15-17 that would benefit from our program? Or a family that would be willing to join our community of host families and host a Jewish Israeli or Palestinian for 19 days? Applications for our 2017 summer program are now available on our website What sets Hands of Peace apart from similar dialogue programs is the incredible support of carefully vetted host families and brilliant student delegations that are made up of self-aware, critical thinkers. Referral is our best recruitment strategy, so please share the work of Hands of Peace with your friends and neighbors, and encourage them to apply. 

We are currently scheduling host family and participant recruitment outreach at all sites. If you'd like someone to speak to your class or group, please contact Jewish Israeli Regional Manager Hamutal Blanc, Palestinian Regional Manager Hoda Barakat, Palestinian Citizen of Israel Regional Manager Rana Haddad, San Diego Site Director  Scott Silk, or  Chicago Site Director  Rhonda McCarty.

Hands of Peace Dual Narrative Trip
Hands of Peace just completed our 3rd interfaith trip, journeying through Israel/Palestine with our incredible Mejdi guides, Husam and Yuval. Experiencing the narratives of both sides, this 12-day journey explored the sacred holy sites of Jerusalem's Old City; the political realities of settlements, refugee camps and life in the shadow of Gaza; the thrill of ascending Masada (on foot or by cable car!) and the tranquility of floating in the Dead Sea. We met with fascinating speakers representing a wide range of views. Throughout, we were joined by Hands of Peace alumni, staff and families, who made our connection to the people relevant and personal.

We are already thinking about our next trip, so e-mail Gretchen Grad if you would like to receive information!
Insight from Lee Sterling - 
one of our Dual Narrative Travelers
When HOP announced its Dual Narrative 2016 trip to Israel/Palestine, my wife and I both recognized the unique opportunity to visit a world we learned about growing up, AND 
which we read about in our current newspapers or saw on TV.
Growing up in a Christian home, Lynn realized that we could visit the birthplace of Jesus, and view the 14 Stations of the Cross; and we would have the chance to see other sacred places she had studied and read about as a child in Sunday School.  Raised in a Jewish home, I looked forward to seeing the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock, and Masada; and, most important of all to me, was be a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, located in the complex City of Jerusalem. At Yad Vashem, my fellow travelers helped me honor Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese Consul in Bordeaux, France, in June of 1940, who, against the orders of the Portuguese Government, issued thousands of visas to refugees so they could escape the Nazi hordes invading from the North - including visas to my family and me so we could get to America.  The Children's Memorial, a darkened rotunda with blinking spectral lights, and the somber announcement of the names of children lost in the holocaust, was for me the most moving part of the museum.
The old city of fabled Jerusalem is only 0.35 sq.miles within the current City of Jerusalem, but what an important piece of real estate! It's home to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for Christians, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque for Muslims, and the Temple Mount and Western Wall for Jews.  You can feel and see how important these sites are to  the various groups following their tour guides. Our group was individualistic, but we had earpiece microphones that enabled us to hear our terrific tour guides: Husam and Yuval; fountains of knowledge about the holy sites of the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish religions, and about the ancient and current history of this troubled land; they are both arcane and poetic. We learned ancient history dating to the pre-Romans, and we discussed the modern political conflict and its impact on Israelis and Palestinians. We visited an Israeli kibbutz just outside of Gaza and went down into a bomb shelter, and we looked across the security area and fence into the distant territory of Gaza. The population is about 13,000 per sq. mi.; in San Diego the population is 4,250 per sq. mi; and in Chicago the density is about 12,000 per sq. mi.  Now imagine that you live where there is no airport, no seaport, and it doesn't matter because you can't leave the area in which you live. We were exposed to the troubles on both sides of the "fence"!
Along with the history lessons, the view of the sacred places, and the discussions about the current politics of the area, we also got a chance to air our impressions with evening reviews led by an experienced Hands of Peace facilitator. And, best of all, we had a wonderful evening meeting past Hands of Peace participants and their parents. Participants shared how their Hands of Peace experience helped shape their lives, and it confirmed that the organization is having an important impact on the future leaders of this area.
As we approached the end of our trip, we agreed that this was one of the most meaningful trips we have ever made. It has reaffirmed our commitment to the goals of Hands of Peace; confirmed our resolve that we need to support efforts to settle the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians; and convinced us to highly recommend the Dual Narrative Trip to Israel/Palestine sponsored by Hands of Peace!

Middle East Updates
Sometimes host family assignments take unexpected twists.  In Chicago last summer, Ahmad - a Palestinian Citizen of Israel - was telling his host father that his town of Umm El Fahm was building its first library.   Coincidentally, host dad David Bliss works in circulation at a suburban Chicago library. As the summer program progressed, David and Ahmad talked endlessly about how the local community in Chicago could support the new Umm El Fahm library.  In October, at the beginning of the Dual Narrative trip, David brought the first delivery of books and presented them to the library administrator.  One week later, a second shipment arrived.   Now, Ahmad is beginning to work with American alums to continue to find books - English, Hebrew, and Arabic - for the library.   Children's books are in highest demand.  If you are in the Chicago area and have gently used, high quality books you would like to donate, please reach out via email to  David
and he'll put one of the American teens in touch with you.
Chicago Updates and 
Upcoming Events
HOPEducation - Dialogue in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Wednesday, November 16th 7:00pm
First Presbyterian Church Libertyville 
219 W. Maple Avenue 
This evening will include an overview of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1900, Israeli and Palestinian needs for security (facts and fears), role of Americans in the conflict, and controversies surrounding dialogue. Alumni will be there to share and answer questions about how we do dialogue at Hands of Peace and why it is important.

HOPEducation - Movie Night - "Disturbing the Peace"
Monday, December 5th 6:00pm-9:00pm
Glenview Community Church - Founders Room
Join us for an advanced screening of "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.
San Diego Updates and 
Upcoming Events
San Diego Alumni Club Update
On October 15th the San Diego American Alumni attended the Day of Hope Event in Carlsbad's MacGee Park to raise awareness about domestic violence. This event was co-produced by community organizations and the Carlsbad Police Department. The San Diego American Alumni are exploring the issue of community and police relations and this was a great opportunity to meet and talk with police officers. They had an informal dialogue session with a detective and two police officers and explored misperceptions held by teens and police, then met to talk about next steps with mentor Kelley Grimes and dialogue facilitator Marina Yanay-Triner about developing a service project to address this problem. The next meeting is  December 4th before the Hands of Peace "Why Dialogue" event.

HOPEducation Event - Why Dialogue?
Sunday, December 4th 3:30pm-6:00pm
Palomar Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
1600  Buena Vista Drive, Vista
Many people claim that dialogue is the only road to peace. Others feel that it can actually be an obstacle. Explore with our panel of experts, including recent participants of our summer program, the importance and role of dialogue in peacemaking. We will then split into small groups to conduct our own dialogue sessions. T o RSVP, please contact  Eileen Maurer.

San Diego Book Club
Lawrence In Arabia by Scott Anderson
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Time and Location to be determined
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.

Book Club is looking for someone to host the next meeting. If you are available to host, would like more information, or to RSVP, please contact Eileen Maurer.

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