Over the past year, Kaleidoscope faced many difficult challenges. The Covid-19 pandemic wreaked unprecedented havoc in our lives. Educational systems were closed and we couldn’t meet with one another. In addition, we endured another round of fighting in Gaza, accompanied this time by violence between Israeli Arabs and Jews. Cities that had invested many years of effort in coexistence suffered from extensive violence that challenged the idea of living together.
This was also a year of important crossroads for Kaleidoscope, as founding director Chana Zweiter completed her service and passed the baton and management to Yonatan Schimmel.
Through it all, this year was one of continuing accomplishment and educational activity in the field of coexistence.
Coexistence Project in Lod
Throughout the year, we worked with children and teens from the Ethiopian Israeli community who live in Lod’s Ramat Eshkol neighborhood. The purpose of the project was to help them develop social skills as a means of increasing their sense of belonging to Israeli society.
The work included:
1. Helping 12th graders build social skills before their army service.
2. Training educational staff.
Due to the unrest in the neighborhood, a planned project of joint meetings between the Ethiopian youngsters and children from the Garin Torani (religious core community) was postponed. These meetings are important because the communities tend to stay separate, even though they live in the same neighborhood.
To date, 15 staff people and some 10 children have participated. An additional 20 children will be added in the next phase. This activity is part of Kaleidoscope’s “Sylvia’s Children” program.
Rishon LeZion Moadonit
As part of our early childhood program, we operated a moadonit (afterschool program) for at-risk children in Rishon Lezion. Under the leadership of Yisraela, a Kaleidoscope facilitator, we trained staff about educating children to appreciate the diversity in their neighborhoods and their kindergartens. We also carried out activities for children that focused on accepting the other, and additional values that will help them in the future. 10 staff people and 60 children participated in the program, which was funded by JWF.
Coexistence: The Islamic Museum and Tower of David Museum
We had planned to begin a joint program for kindergarten children and high school students from East and West Jerusalem. This program aimed to build on the success of the same program last year, and expand it significantly. Although we began training educational staff, the pandemic made it impossible to meet face to face, and it was not possible to work with kindergarten children via Zoom. As a result, all participating groups decided to postpone the activity to next year. This program is funded by the American Embassy and a Swiss foundation.
Joint Meetings Between Mevo’ot HaNegev School and Youth from Rahat
This year, Kaleidoscope began serving as a service provider for the Rashi Foundation’s Beit Yatziv Educational Center.
We led two projects there:
Coexistence activity for Jewish youth from Mevo’ot HaNegev and Bedouin youth from Rahat:
Each class had four preparatory sessions focusing on helping students build their social skills, such as decision making and coping with conflict and prejudice. Unfortunately, the events of May 2021 suspended the joint meetings; we hope that we can return to them soon.
There are 40 participants in the program.
Developing social skills:
At the request of Beit Yatziv, we carried out a supplementary program for students who came to the center for remedial studies. The Kaleidoscope program included developing social skills that support improvement in learning and achievement. Through the year, under the guidance of Emad, a longtime Kaleidoscope facilitator, the Kaleidoscope staff met with hundreds of youth from Rahat.
These activities were funded by Beit Yatziv and a gift from the Schwartz family.
Coexistence Project in Acco
As we continued our coexistence activities in the city of Acco, we succeeded, for the first time, in carrying out a joint project between the religious Jewish high school and a school with Muslims, Druze and Christians. At the beginning of the process, we carried out meetings that brought together the staff of both schools. Although there were many hesitations at the start, the meetings reduced preconceptions and prejudice.
As we began working with the youth in each school, we faced a great deal of prejudice among them, and hesitancy about meeting with the “other.” When we finally reached a stage in which the students felt ready for a joint meeting, our plans were dashed by the violent events of May 2021, which made it necessary to suspend the meetings. We hope we can return to them in the near future. 40 youth participated in the program, which was made possible by a contribution from the Schwartz family.
Course for Kindergarten Assistants
During the pandemic, we continued to work with assistants in Lod and Ramle who had participated in the course for assistants the previous year. This included distributing booklets of activities that were adjusted for the situation, Zoom workshops, and daily conversations that made it possible for them to share ideas with one another. 25 assistants participated in this activity, which was supported with a grant from JWF and the American Embassy.
Activity with Beth Emet Congregation
As part of our commitment to spreading the values of Kaleidoscope around the world, we held a meeting with the Beth Emet congregation in Chicago. We discussed the values that guide us, and members of the congregation were able to meet some of our facilitators: Yisraela, who moved to Israel from Ethiopia; Eihab, a Muslim Arab from the north; and Rasia, a Druse from the north. The meeting provided our American friends with a fascinating window into the beauty of Israel’s diversity. The program was led by Chana.
Continuing Education for Staff
We carried out study days dedicated to increasing staff cohesion, learning lessons from past activities, and continuing to develop new content. Due to Covid restrictions, some of these meetings were held via Zoom.
The pandemic crisis made it necessary for us to digitalize our content to enable remote access. That encompassed a process of shifting all activities online, and addressing questions like “how do you play ice-breaking games on Zoom?” And “how do you enable participants to use this content on their own, when we cannot be there with them?” Some of our activities became online games that every child could play on their own in kindergarten or at home. One of the games is a Hebrew-Arabic memory game that was created last year by Arab youth from the Ein Rafa High School together with Jewish youth from the Amit Nahshon High School.