Important Dates to Remember:

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

Applications for American
 Participants, XLs, and  Host Families are available on our website.

Middle East applications will be available on our website beginning 
 November 1st!

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October, 2016

Executive Director Update
October marks the beginning of many things new.  For Jews, it is Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year.  For Muslims, it is Muharram, the beginning of the Islamic calendar.   And for Hands of Peace, it is the beginning of our 2017 Fiscal Year - my first full year as Executive Director.
I am excited about the continued growth and new opportunities we are offering our alumni.  With more than 500 alums in the Middle East and the U.S., we are accelerating our impact.  Our regional seminars boast ever-increasing attendance and interest among Israeli and Palestinian alums.  Our Middle East alums are finding new and creative ways to spread our message of a positive peace.  And our U.S. Site Directors and Program Directors continue to find opportunities to keep our American alumni engaged.
We are particularly thrilled about a new initiative to bring our Israeli, Palestinian and American alums back together.  For the first time, we are sponsoring a pilot program for American alumni to visit the Middle East.  Approximately 10 alumni will travel between Friday, March 24 and Sunday, April 2, 2017.   Chicago Program Director Julia Duerst will chaperone the students, with full support of our Israeli and Palestinian staff.  The program will include cultural touring with heavy emphasis on multi-narrative exposure.  Participants will spend two nights each with Jewish Israeli, Palestinian, and PCI host families whose children have participated in Hands of Peace.   For more information about this trip, please contact Julia Duerst, as the registration deadline is near.
In the months ahead, I look forward to sharing more updates with you on how Hands of Peace continues to increase its impact in the region. Together, WE WILL be part of the solution that brings freedom, equality, and a just and positive peace for all Israelis and Palestinians.   Thank you for your ongoing interest and support!!

Hands of Peace News and Updates
Meet our new Board of Directors
Fall is in the air, and that means a new year began for Hands of Peace on October 1st.
Hands of Peace is so fortunate to have talented people who share their leadership skills in substantial ways.  

We are grateful to outgoing board members Hank Conroe, Frank Gelber and Kelly Mellos for their years of outstanding service on the Hands of Peace Board of Directors.  We are likewise indebted to Wendy Rhodes (past Board Chair) and Bill Sullivan (past Secretary) for their above-and-beyond service as Board Officers, and are delighted they will continue to offer their experience as board members. Thank you to Tom Aldrich, who is our new Board Chair and to Lisa Leger, continuing as Treasurer.

A big welcome to new board members Michele Arnison and Kelley Grimes, and new Advisory Board members Frank Gelber and Jessica Judge Schott.  Welcome all!

Recruitment for 2017 Summer Program
What sets Hands of Peace apart from similar dialogue programs is the incredible support of carefully vetted Host Families and a brilliant U.S. student delegation that is made of self-aware, critical thinkers. Applications for both of these groups are now available on-line. Referral is our best recruitment strategy, so please share the work of Hands of Peace with your friends and neighbors. For information about the San Diego program, contact San Diego Site Director Scott Silk . For information about the Chicago program, contact Chicago Site Director   Rhonda McCarty.
Host Family Highlight - The Hartman Family
Hands of Peace Host Families open their homes and their hearts to visitors from the Middle East, and support their Hands as they experience all that the summer program has to offer. In return, they develop long-lasting, rewarding relationships with their host children that extend far beyond the short summer program. Here is an example of one of those lasting relationships from a 2016 San Diego Host Mom, Magan Hartman:

We first heard about Hands of Peace when my husband, an orthopedic surgeon, was asked to treat one of the Palestinian participants in his clinic.  He was so impressed by everyone in the organization, the teens, chaperones, and staff, that we knew we had to get involved. 

Volunteering as a host family was an easy choice.  We have two daughters, Caroline, 7, and Maddy, 6.  They absolutely adore "big girls" so we knew having teens stay with us for a few weeks would be so exciting for them.  As Jewish Americans, we also wanted our daughters to meet the Israeli, PCI and Palestinian teens and see them as people, not as headlines.  As they grow, they will hear more of the conflict and we want them to always think of their own rich personal experiences with the participants and not negative stereotypes. 

We were excited to have two teenage girls stay with us, a 15-year-old Palestinian and a 16-year-old PCI.  We emailed each other before their arrival to get to know them and their families.  One of my most memorable experiences of the program was messaging with one of the mothers on the travel day as they began the long trek to the US.  There was so much to separate us, geography, language, religion, and yet we were just two mothers praying for the safe arrival of her daughter.  I will always be moved by the fact that these families trusted us with such a precious gift, their amazing children.

Once the girls arrived, we bonded very quickly.  The program kept the girls busy, but we had time for family dinners, sightseeing, and their favorite activity-shopping!  We also hosted the first get-together for all of the participants at our home.  This was such a wonderful experience for our family!  I will never forget my daughters dancing to Middle Eastern music and laughing with the teens.  No borders.  No politics.  Just fun.

Saying goodbye was so much harder than I thought it would be.  The house was so quiet.  I would go to the girls' room and feel a sense of loss not seeing their belongings everywhere!  Luckily, we have been able to stay in contact through Skype and look forward to visiting them sometime soon.  We are excited to meet their families and to know we have these amazing friends in Israel and Palestine to call on when we visit.

I can't say enough about how grateful we are to be a part of this program.  In three short weeks, the entire San Diego Hands of Peace organization became family. You give of your time and open your home, but you get so much more in return. 

Middle East Updates
As part of our new Leadership Programming, alumni in Israel have been working on a project that brings to life the personal stories and testimonalis of African asylum seekers held in the south of Israel in a detention facility called Holot (Sands in Hebrew). These alumni hope to raise the awareness of the Israeli public and bring needed change to the bureaucracy and the tough conditions these asylum seekers face while attempting to create a better life away from their war-torn home countries. The goal is to select meaningful excerpts from their 7:hours of video interviews and create a social media campaign to raise the awareness of the conditions at Holot.
Chicago Updates and 
Upcoming Events
HOPEducation - Movie Night - Colliding Dreams
Monday, October 10th 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Glenview Community Church - Founders Room

"Colliding Dreams" is a feature length documentary from award winning filmmakers Joseph Dorman and Oren Rudavsky. The film explores the dream of a Jewish state and its impact on all of the people of the region by weaving together past and present multiple narratives. For more on the film visit the website at

Interfaith Connections Expanding in Chicago

First Ever Chicago Alumni Seminar

October 29th 

Chicago staff recently met with Fr. Corey Brost of the Children of Abraham Coalition and, separately with, Carol Muskin, Hands of Peace Host Mom and member of the Anti-Islamophobia Committee of JVP-Chicago, to discuss networking opportunities in the Greater Chicago area. These conversations helped in forming the first Chicago Alumni Seminar to be held Saturday, October 29th. Chicago Alumni will travel together to the South and Southwest Chicago neighborhoods for an educational tour that will discuss the Great Migration, immigration, segregation and cultural evolution of those areas. As a follow-up to the tour, the Chicago HOP alumni will meet with youth from the Universal School in Bridgeview on November 12th to make posters for an Anti-Islamaphobia rally taking place that afternoon in Oaklawn. Hands of Peace is proud to partner with the following organizations for this effort:

  • Jewish Voice for Peace - Chicago
  • Mosque Foundation Interfaith Committee - Bridgeview
  • AFS Youth Exchange Students
For more information about these events, contact Julia Duerst.

San Diego Updates and 
Upcoming Events
San Diego Alumni Club Update
Next Meeting Sunday, October 15th at 11:00am
Magee Park - 258 Beech Ave., Carlsbad
The San Diego Alumni Club met for an afternoon the first week of September to reconnect, play games and begin the process of designing a service project on Community and Police relations. Our next meeting will take place on October 15th at 11am at the Hope Event in Carlsbad to raise awareness about domestic violence. This event is co-sponsored by the Carlsbad Police Department and local agencies serving the domestic violence community and will be a great opportunity to meet police officers and see the collaborative efforts between the police and the community right here in Carlsbad. If you have questions please contact  Kelley Grimes.

HOPEducation Event - "Disgraced"
Sunday, November 6th at 2:00pm
Lyceum Theater -  79 Horton Plaza, San Diego
Please join Hands of Peace supporters as we watch the play "Disgraced" at the Lyceum Theater. The play begins at 2:00pm and there will be a dialogue immediately following the performance. This play focuses on Amir Kapoor, who is ignoring his Muslim heritage so he can live the American Dream - with a beautiful wife, an amazing New York apartment and a lucrative career practicing law that is headed for the stars. When Amir and his artist wife host a casual dinner party for his African-American co-worker and her Jewish husband, the things one is not supposed to talk about at dinner are suddenly at the center of the dinner conversation. The evening quickly erupts into a fiery debate over race, religion and class in the modern world. Everything that Amir has achieved - including his proudly built new identity - is suddenly turned upside down in a way no one could have imagined. This Pulitzer Prize winner is the most produced contemporary play in American Theatre today. 
Please click here to purchase your tickets, and enter promo code HANDS.  S D Rep is generously donating 15% of ticket purchases back to Hands of Peace.

San Diego Book Club
Lawrence In Arabia by Scott Anderson
January, 2017
San Diego Book Club hosted another successful event on September 21st, where guests discussed the book "The Faith Club" and engaged in conversations about the similarities and differences in religions and the tolerance of one another.

The next book will be "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, which is slated for January timeframe. If you are available to host, would like more information, or to RSVP, please contact Eileen Maurer.

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