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September 10, 1993 - Image 98

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-09-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Wiyhin9 You A
happy, Maltby and
Proypvrouy Dvw Yvar

BQ

May Your Year
a Vision To Bthold

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Israel Center
Promotes Peace

SUSAN SOLOMON SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

I

he legacy of Janusz
Korczak, doctor, teach-
er, writer and beloved
caretaker of hundreds
of Polish Jewish orphans in
the Warsaw Ghetto, lives on
in 20 countris around the
world. In Israel, with tensions
high between the Arabs and
Israelis, his writings pro-
moting peace, coexistence,
and love of children have
taken on added significance
and continue to thrive
through a unique Center for
Promoting the Heritage of
Janusz Korczak at the David
Yellin Teacher's College in
Jerusalem.
Established in cooperation
with the Swiss Janusz Korc-
zak Association, the Center is
piloting coexistence programs
encouraging tolerance and
coexistence between Israel's
future Jewish and Arab
teachers. "It was felt that if
Korczak was alive today, the
Davie Yellin Teachers Col-
lege, with its emphasis on
promoting Jewish-Arab coex-
istence, is the kind of place he
would have chosen for his
ideas to be studied," says
Hadara Keich, director of the
center.
Established two years ago,
the center works with
students from the college's
Arab Special Education
Department. Special work-
shops bring Arab and Israeli
students together in an
educational environment to
learn about their district
histories, cultures and
religion. Intercultural
workshops, seminars and
field trips to Jewish and Arab
towns encourage understan-
ding between the two groups,
which is hoped will ultimate-
ly be reflected in their
classrooms.
Says Mohammed Horani,
chairman of the Arab Special
Education Department, "The
path to coexistence is a hard
one. Hadara and I have been
working for many years to
change the attitudes of our
students and have them ac-
cept one another. Each year
there is much resistance from
both sides."
Nevertheless, Arab and
Jewish students have begun
to open up to each other and
talk on a one-to-one basis.
One Arab student from east
Jerusalem admitted that
before he participated in one
of the workshops he had
never set in the same room

with an Israeli Jewish stu-
dent, nor was he familiar
with Arabs from west
Jerusalem. Now he is en-
gaged to an Israeli Arab from
Jerusalem whom he met in
the course. "I hope that one
day there will be true peace,"
he says, "and that in some
small way I will play a part in
bringing it to our land."
A Jewish student says she
previously avoided the col-
lege's "Arab crowd," having
no interest in getting to know
them and admitted to fearing
them. Through studying
together and talking openly,
she sees that they have much
in common and anticipates
her role as an educator in pro-
moting tolerance and coex-
istence among children.
As part of her third-year
student-teaching project,
Arab student Samira Alian
chose to convey a better
understanding of Islam to
Israeli schoolchildren in the

Theory is
combined with
practical teaching
methods.

comfortable
Jerusalem
suburb of Beit Hakerem,
where the center is located.
On her first day in a fifth
grade class, she asked the
pupils what they thought
about Arabs. The overwhelm-
ing response was
"murderers." Over a three-
week period, using slides, pic-
tures, postcards, games and
dittos depicting Islamic and
Judaic culture, the children
began learning the un-
familiar by comparing it to
the familiar: a model of a tem-
ple stood next to that of a
mosque, the Jewish star next
to the crescent of Islam, etc.
At the end of three weeks,
Ms. Alian gave the children a
questionnaire to evaluate her
project. "The reaction of the
children was both surprising
and gratifying," says Ms.
Alian. "They were all willing
to accept Arab students in
their class, much as they
would accept a Russian or
Ethiopian newcomer."
In the center's course on
"Tolerance in a Pluralistic
Society," a theme predomi-
nant in all of Mr. Korczak's
work, theory is combined

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