As educators, we believe in solutions based on understanding, dialogue and social justice, and we are committed to working together to help heal the open wounds.
Beit Berl College is a shared home, where Jews and Arabs, religious and secular, study and live together in an atmosphere of mutual respect. We are proud that our community represents a microcosm of Israeli society.
Over the last six years, the College's Center for the Advancement of Shared Society has developed extensive experience training teachers to see our society with new eyes, to conduct difficult discussions and interrupt racism in classrooms, to bring young Jewish and Arab Israelis together in encounters that nurture understanding and help close educational gaps. These programs have helped our diverse faculty initiate discussion among our 6,500 Jewish and Arab students.
Now, we are redoubling our efforts to lead the way forward. As soon as violence reared its ugly head, Beit Berl College's leadership convened an emergency meeting to take action to mitigate the impact of these events and to reaffirm shared society values on campus.
The first step was to organize a series of workshops for faculty, administrators and students, to help Beit Berl stakeholders navigate these tense times. The workshops were jointly led by a Jewish and an Arab faculty member. During each 1.5-hour session, participants were encouraged to express their thoughts and feelings about the situation and share their personal experiences. Most importantly, they were given the opportunity to listen to other views. Lecturers were trained to diffuse potentially fiery situations in the classroom, and received practical tools to ensure that debate remain civil.
"The main aim of these seminars is to reinforce the message that all narratives are legitimate. It's important to listen to others and also to understand how you sound to the other side. We must respect one another and look for solutions together," says Dr. Wurud Jayusi, Director of Beit Berl's Center for Shared Society.
Now, Beit Berl is reaching beyond the campus, convening a forum of school principals, and providing emergency support and training to alumni – who are working as teachers, counselors and principals on the front lines, teaching traumatized young people in Jewish, Arab and mixed cities throughout the country. Alumni are invited to take part in a special seminar scheduled for the end of May. This initiative is part of a larger commitment to mentor school leadership around the country, helping them overcome distrust and fears, and take on leadership roles as educators in this critical time.
Now, more than ever, the work of building a more equitably shared Israeli society is vital. We welcome your partnership.
See the message sent by our President, Prof. Yuli Tamir, in Hebrew and Arabic.
Click here to see Dr. Wurud Jayusi, Director of Beit Berl's Center for Shared Society, in a recent television interview.