The story of this community began with two Jerusalem friends, from West and East Jerusalem, who met in the halls of Hebrew University almost a decade ago. One was studying Hebrew, and the other, Arabic. Their bond, which began with helping each other out with school work, quickly turned into something much bigger. A friendship developed that was based on honesty and understanding that, while both their lives are based in the same city, they exist in two completely separated spheres that almost never have the chance to interact. And that the ignorance on both sides is unnervingly vast. Their story is indicative of a vast number of Jerusalemites who live parallel lives without ever really, meaningfully, crossing paths.
End of year 2017, the two students put together a platform whose sole purpose was to allow other women to share in the meaningful experience that they themselves discovered when entering each other’s world. The intention was to allow opportunities for initial introduction and in-depth understanding into how ‘the other side’ lives. What this enabled and led to was a blurring of the “walls” that separate and distance them. This could only take plan in a safe space that held onto principles of equality and inclusion above all, where each of these women could bring and be her true self, and where they get to experience being both teacher and student at the same time, whilst learning a language – and culture – not their own.
Since then, the project has grown to a community of over 2,000 women from across the Jerusalem spectrum, from all the neighborhoods, with political and religious backgrounds that differ, and across a wide age range. These women come together on a weekly basis to practice Hebrew or Arabic, are active in the corresponding Whatsapp and Facebook groups, and even meet one on one. They help each other with the language – but also way more.
This community now represents the largest and oldest language exchange group in the city, while also being an optimal breeding ground for other joint initiatives that sprout from within. They aim to provide solutions for other needs that need to be met, amongst the women, where things like language can be a barrier, in departments such as: employment, knowing legal rights, and more – while always trying to maintain an equilibrium of equality.
Leading this initiative today are Lior Urian & Suzanne Sayed, with the help of 12 volunteers from both sides.
To join the community, please reach out to Suzanne at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lior at email@example.com.
To read more about this incredible community of women, follow the link for an article from “Haaretz” newspaper: https://www.haaretz.co.il/news/education/.premium-1.7957960