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Targum Shlishi Supports Innovative Conflict Resolution Program That Trains Educators to Work With Children in Early Childhood to Strengthen Jewish-Arab Relations

(Miami, March 24, 2019) – Targum Shlishi is supporting an unusual program in Israel that harnesses the power of storytelling to foster a lifelong appreciation of diversity in young Jewish and Arab children as well as to promote multicultural awareness and empathy in their parents and teachers. The program, “Early Childhood Aides Promote Acceptance and Understanding,” is in its pilot stage. Organized by the Rosh Pina Mainstreaming Network, the program trains kindergarten aides and is one facet of a larger initiative called “Our Story,” introduced in 2016 and supported by Targum Shlishi and the US Embassy.

Promoting Tolerance

“This one-of-a-kind professional training program for Jewish and Arab kindergarten aides helps them learn approaches to promoting tolerance and respect between cultures in kindergarten children, an age when children are very accepting,” explains Chana Reifman Zweiter, founder and director of the Rosh Pina Mainstreaming Network. Zweiter received the 2015 Bonei Zion Prize, awarded at the Knesset, for promoting education for diversity in Israel. “Our organization advocates for and advances an ongoing curriculum in which fostering coexistence and tolerance are integral parts of learning from early childhood through high school, and are not merely passing subjects.”

About the Program

“Early Childhood Aides Promote Acceptance and Understanding” organically developed as a way to help support “Our Story,” a grassroots program that promotes storytelling to Jewish and Arab children by mothers and educators, uniting these diverse populations through the act of sharing stories.

That program, introduced in the Israeli cities of Lod and Ramle in 2016, led to the realization that teacher’s aides were an integral part of this process, and that the program would be strengthened by offering training to aides. A pilot program began in 2018-19 in Ramle to train the aides, and a second group of aides will begin training in Ramle and in Akko shortly, which will help “Our Story” continue to develop and grow, with the ultimate goal of integrating it into the school system.

Ramle and Akko are two of Israel’s mixed cities, where Arab and Jewish populations live side-by-side but often have limited contact. Through this project, these two populations will be brought into contact in a collaborative and supportive environment.

Scope

In the 2018-19 academic year, the program will impact forty-two kindergarten aides, fifty percent of whom are from the Jewish community and fifty percent from the Arab community. The project also impacts the forty-two kindergarten teachers that the aides work with and an estimated 1470 kindergarten students who will be participating in workshops that the aides will be facilitating.

Objectives – Short Term

“Early Childhood Aides Promote Acceptance and Understanding” has several objectives:

• To provide training that helps enable Jewish and Arab early childhood aides to promote understanding and interaction between the students in their kindergartens
• To strengthen Arab and Jewish relationships among participating students, aides, teachers, and parents, who are coming together to address a common goal
• To heighten awareness and appreciation of positive Arab-Jewish collaboration
• The program will be shared with U.S. educators in an exchange of ideas geared to strengthening mutual understanding and learning between U.S. and Israeli educators

Specifics of Training

The training in storytelling that the aides are receiving includes learning to integrating storytelling with puppetry and with music, with the goal of increasing the resources they have at hand to integrate with storytelling, and to build their confidence in storytelling.”

Looking Ahead

“We hope that in five years we will see this initiative rooted in the early childhood network, with an increased number of municipalities participating in the programming as well as an increase in the number of early childhood programs promoting interaction between Arab and Jewish children,” Zweiter says.

Related Targum Shlishi News Items

Go here to read Targum Shlishi’s Press Release on “Our Story.”

About the Rosh Pina Mainstreaming Network

The mission of the Rosh Pina Mainstreaming Network is to promote appreciation for multiculturalism, social justice, and respect between people of different cultures. This mission is incorporated into its Kaleidoscope educational approach, which focuses on fostering the development of social skills. Conducted throughout Israel’s Arab and Jewish communities, it applies this approach to reach goals including empowering children and at-risk youth and promoting understanding between Arab and Jewish students, children of Ethiopian origin and their native Israeli peers, religious and secular students, and students of the special and general educational tracks. Kaleidoscope programs have involved approximately forty-five thousand participants, including its city-wide approaches that include educators, students, and parents of all cultures. For more information, visit its website..

About Targum Shlishi

Targum Shlishi, a Raquel and Aryeh Rubin Foundation, is dedicated to providing a range of creative solutions to problems facing Jewry today. Premised on the conviction that dynamic change and adaptation have historically been crucial to a vibrant and relevant Judaism and to the survival of its people, Targum Shlishi’s initiatives are designed to stimulate the development of new ideas and innovative strategies that will enable Jewish life, its culture, and its traditions to continue to flourish. For more information on the foundation, visit its website. Follow Aryeh Rubin, Targum Shlishi’s director, on Twitter..

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