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Targum Shlishi Supports Storytelling Initiative in Israel to Strengthen Jewish-Arab Relationships and Promote Parent-Child Interaction

(Miami, April 15, 2018)—Targum Shlishi is supporting Our Story, a new and unusual initiative being introduced in the Israeli cities of Lod and Ramle by the Kaleidoscope division of the Rosh Pina Mainstreaming Network. Our Story is a multifaceted program that promotes storytelling to children by both mothers and educators; brings together Arab and Jewish mothers, educators, and children; and unites these diverse populations through the act of sharing stories.

Storytelling as a Social Good

Our Story not only encourages and facilitates the reading of stories to children, but it works with mothers to help them develop their own stories and to share them publicly. The ambitious and wide-ranging program also offers workshops and even helps women develop entrepreneurship skills. Ultimately, Our Story seeks not merely to enhance adult-child bonds through storytelling, but to strengthen societal bonds and even promote social change by encouraging the women who participate to be leaders in the fields of dialogue, community service, and social entrepreneurship.

“Our Story is a grassroots, people-to-people initiative that joins great numbers of Lod and Ramle’s Arab and Jewish citizens representing different strata of the community in activities that have common goals,” explains Chana Reifman Zweiter, founder and director of the Rosh Pina Mainstreaming Network and recipient of the 2015 Bonei Zion Prize, awarded at the Knesset, for promoting education for diversity in Israel. “The mothers and educators will develop relationships and conflict mitigation skills in workshops and in community service that they will in turn pass on to the younger children.”

Multifaceted Programming

The various components of Our Story include:

  • Parents’/Mothers’ Program: This program has a few components that will be offered to a group of thirty to fifty Arab and Jewish mothers.
    • Professional Storytelling Training and Interactive Reading Workshops
      The primary focus of these workshops is to encourage parent-child interaction through storytelling and to build bonds between the participating Arab and Jewish mothers. In these workshops the mothers share their stories, read to their children, visit local libraries and receive library cards, and are given books to help build home libraries.

      • Community Service
      • The participating mothers provide ten hours of storytelling in the local schools.
      • Social Entrepreneurship Workshops
        A group of women are participating in workshops conducted by the Israel Women’s Network to train them in entrepreneurial skills that help them with employability and with developing programs that serve the community.
  • Outings
    Mothers and children will go on three joint trips, two of which will be to libraries and one to another cultural institution such as a museum.
  • Children’s Reading Workshops
    More than five hundred Arab and Jewish children participate in twenty-six hours of programming that includes storytelling, interactive programming around personal and national stories, and social skills development.
  • Professional Workshops for Teachers
    Teachers participate in twenty hours of training focused on storytelling that promotes moral and social development; the training includes group workshops, mentoring, and online resources.

“Our Story is an ambitious and impressive program that has several worthy goals, from promoting Arab and Jewish relations in Ramle and Lod, which are both so-called ‘mixed cities,’ to strengthening parent-child and educator-student relationships through storytelling,” notes Andrea Gollin, Targum Shlishi’s program director. “The simple act of encouraging storytelling to children is powerful in and of itself, but in seeking to effect social change through the ancient art of storytelling, Our Story has the potential to be a revolutionary program and a model for other communities.”

Promoting Social Change

As Chana Zweiter explains, Ramle and Lod are cities in which a Jewish majority and Arab minority reside. However, while the cities are called “mixed cities,” they tend to be composed of segregated neighborhoods with services skewed in favor of the Jewish majority. “The historical conflict between Arabs and Jews is deeply rooted and continues to affect how they deal with each other. Most interventions applied to address these problems are short term,” Zweiter says. “Our Story seeks to achieve long-terms social change by joining these populations in reaching common goals.”

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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