Prisoners of Hope
Dear Friends,
Our COVID-19 Message to the World: "Everything Will Be OK"
The fear, isolation and uncertainty generated by the COVID-19 pandemic cannot prevent the faithful observance of Passover, Easter and Ramadan. Whether in our homes or online, celebrating the deliverance from slavery, an end to estrangement from God, and new life in the Spirit is proving irresistible for millions of Jews, Christians and Muslims across the world. Why? Because we are prisoners of hope.

At JPB, we too are prisoners of hope - hope that the pandemic will end, that good will triumph over hate, that God's great deeds of mercy will renew themselves in each of us. And we are not alone. Response to our online youth programs continues to exceed our expectations. The educators in our EXCEL teacher-training program are eager to persevere, and our Israeli and Palestinian partner organizations are assisting us to explore how JPB can offer all our summer programming in 2020.

Our work carries on unabated. The month of May will bring change and news of summer's plans. In the meantime, we invite you to benefit from JPB's online offerings (see above) and celebrate being a prisoner of hope. 

Peace, Shalom, Salaam,
(The Rev. Canon) Nicholas and Dorothy Porter
Co-Founders, Jerusalem Peacebuilders
Groundbreaking initiative connects schools across the city
Arab and Jewish high school students share their identities
The Learning Together program is an initiative implemented by the Israeli Ministry of Education. The program invites pairs of schools from East and West Jerusalem to participate in English language experiential learning in a bi-communal context.

In the 2019-2020 Academic Year, JPB led programming for three pairs of schools: Rowad al Quds and the Israeli Academy for Sciences & Arts (IASA); the Abdullah School and the Beit Hinuch School and Rowad el Quds and Keshet High School. Schools met for a series of workshops built around JPB's core leadership curriculum.

Some noteworthy successes include our ability to encourage school principals and teachers to engage with one another - not a simple task in a divided city. We were also able to support the teachers to add their own voices to the JPB curriculum. It was clear that schools with committed and engaged teachers, who co-facilitated the program together, enjoyed a much more integrated student body by the time the program ended.

But the work also included challenges. This was the first cross-border experience for the students and teachers from the pairs of schools. In fact, most participants had never engaged with the population from the other side of the city in a meaningful way. Students had many questions, biases and insecurities. Teachers were challenged to find the right balance between letting students participate with each other fully and facilitating the sensitive interactions. Also, the students came with varying levels of English making it challenging to ensure that no student was left out because of a language barrier.  We thank JPB Educator Noura El Zokm for her leadership and we seek to further healing in Jerusalem by participating in next year's program!
Faith leaders share about Passover, Easter, and Ramadan!
With Passover and Easter on our hearts, and Ramadan soon to follow, JPB reached out to our trusted Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faith leaders to offer messages of support to our peacebuilding community. Below, you will find recorded video messages from Rabbi Steve Gross, The Rev. Canon Nicholas Porter, and Imam Ismaeel Malik. We hope you enjoy watching, listening, and learning from their words!

Passover Message from Rabbi Steve
Passover Message from Rabbi Steve
Easter Message from Fr. Nicholas
Easter Message from 
Fr. Nicholas
Ramadan Message from Imam Ismaeel
Ramadan Message from Imam Ismaeel
JPB leads multiple workshops at distinguished school
Sarah leads teens through a peacebuilding workshop
Building on her successful classes last year, JPB's Sarah Benazera returned to Sharet High School, Netanya in January and February to facilitate workshops on conflict resolution, storytelling, and communication for 10th and 11th graders.  During one of the workshops,  Sarah connected the topics of conflict t ransformation and storytelling to her own personal experience of peacebuilding in Rwanda.  They explored how the Rwandan genocide and stories about it helped fuel the conflict and how new stories of reconciliation helped transform the conflict.  With that as a model, she asked the students to plot the points of their own personal story, explaining that they decide where their stories begin: one boy said, "I begin with Abraham", another drew an infinity symbol, one in Libya, and another in Hungary during the Holocaust.  

Her work left a deep impression with both the students and their diplomacy teacher alike, reminding us that transformational education involves teaching a child to tell their own story and then recognizing the remarkable answers they generate.   Sara Dayan, the school's diplomacy teacher, later wrote, " Her techniques for bringing out the salient points are deceptively simple and slowly reveal themselves as sheer brilliance as the workshop progresses. It was hard to concentrate during the rest of the day and for days after, as her teaching was so powerful and raw.  We were blessed, and I wish all students could learn like this." High praise indeed for Sarah and JPB! 
Learn about the 2019-2020 Porter Fellow in Jerusalem!
Fr. Nicholas and Rev. Stephanie outside St. George's College in Jerusalem
Recently, one of our longtime friends and supporters, Nancy Janin, wrote a great article on our 2019-2020 Porter Fellow, The Rev. Canon Stephanie Burette. Inside, we learn about the challenges Rev. Stephanie has overcome to serve as a female priest in Jerusalem, as well as the joy she has experienced during her year-long fellowship and work with JPB. Check it out here!
Rabbi Steve Gross discusses his vision of JPB
When it comes to navigating peaceful resolutions in matters of dispute, there is a common belief that any outward demonstration of empathy might ultimately compromise one's bargaining position. The thought is that any sign of compassion or gesture of compromise towards an opponent (be it in a relationship, in a business transaction or in a court of law) might be seen as a sign of weakness. When such displays of the heart are off the table, negotiating issues can be contentious, merciless and unyielding.
Marital disputes can become like war zones where the inflexibility of spouses can compromise a sense of peace within the home. In business negotiations, hard-nosed transactions will often dismiss the needs of the other side in fear of losing the upper hand, and in all strategies where one party hopes to maximize power and strength, it is a common strategic ploy to demonize and demoralize the other. Whatever advantages these aggressive negotiation strategies may present, they can create hostile barriers to communications and significant impediments to finding a peaceful resolution.
Just as it is in disputes in the home or conflicts of interest in business, peace between nations can become paralyzed by dismissiveness and obstinance. This has certainly been the case in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict where, for over seventy years, resistance to finding a resolution has been rooted in cycles of fear and mistrust as decades of hatred have become barriers to progress on every front.
Overcoming such seemingly insurmountable barriers demands an approach which strives to ensure that each side feels heard and understood. This concept of peace through mutual understanding has been central to the mission of Jerusalem Peacebuilders (JPB), an organization dedicated to fostering positive relationships between Jewish, Muslim and Christian teens in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. In stark contrast to a strategic negotiation that seeks to maximizing bargaining power by dismissing the needs and claims of others, JPB promotes transformational, person-to-person encounters in its quest to overcome decades of hatred and mistrust. For the past nine years, JPB has been bringing Israeli and Palestinian teens to the United States for camp experiences designed to promote positive communications by building bridges of understanding, expanding circles of shared leadership and sowing seeds of hope and peace.  
The teens who participate in this forward-thinking program are an extraordinary group of dedicated young men and women whose commitments to diplomacy is unyielding. Their boundless dedication to peacebuilding is evident in their avid desire to acquire the tools that will allow them to shine as leaders in forging a peaceful society in Jerusalem and across the Middle East.
Central to their toolbox for the future is empathy. These teens work hard to overcome the hatred that festers within each of their communities, and without empathy they would be stuck. Their lack of trust in each other is pervasive, so developing a sense of empathy is not an easy task.  For Israeli Jews, it is difficult to imagine trusting a people who are associated with building tunnels of terror and bomb bus stations and cafes to foment fear. Conversely, it is difficult for Palestinians to accept the full legitimacy of Israel, whose ongoing territorial expansions through settlements are seen as illegal and immoral, and whose existence (in the first place) is understood as an extension of European colonialism.
These teens grow up and live in very different understandings realities had hold aspirations for their people which are often diametrically opposed. Their relationships with each other are complex, and their connections with their past are complicated. Yet, their work with JPB demonstrates that regardless of the circumstances, each side has the capacity to suspend anger and suspicion for a greater good.  Central to this work is empathy.
Empathy is the act of seeing something from someone else's perspective. Empathy involves the capacity to analyze a situation based on the values of the other side. Empathy requires an effort to understand an outcome based on a set of experiences that may not be shared, and in many ways, empathy is one of the most important tools in negotiating a compromise that can be agreed upon by two parties with conflicting interests.

Healthy divorces demand empathy; long lasting business relationships are strengthened by empathy; and the negotiations for the future of the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples cannot be shaped without empathy.  It would be wise to take a lead from the teens of Jerusalem Peacebuilders who fully understand that the key to moving beyond conflict demands a sense of empathy.
Above the line tax deductions increased to $300
To incentivize charitable contributions, the CARES Act provides an above-the-line deduction for "qualified charitable contributions" up to $300 for individuals who do not itemize deductions. JPB is a "qualified charitable organization". The CARES Act also increases the income limitations on charitable deductions by suspending the 50% adjusted gross income (AGI) limitation for 2020.  Thus, individuals may deduct qualified contributions in 2020 up to 100% of their AGI. Any excess qualified contributions are carried forward to future years in the same manner as other charitable contribution carryovers. 
Because the future of Jerusalem is the future of the world