It is always a challenge to separate the political and the personal…
But it is an effort that we have been engaged in at the Jerusalem Foundation for more than 50 years. Shared living in Jerusalem takes many forms and, even in the midst of the unrest of recent weeks, shared living continued for many people in the city.
In the shared public spaces of Jerusalem, you will find Arabs and Jews and many others. They share the same spaces but they rarely have meaningful interactions and they often don’t even share the same language for communication.
The challenge of building bridges, trust and communication between such diverse population groups has been one of the mandates of the Jerusalem Foundation since its establishment. For many years, we created new community centers, cultural venues and parks and schools for all neighborhoods across the city, working to ensure that equal access to services and leisure could be achieved.
In more recent years, the Jerusalem Foundation has focused on people. On creating programs for learning Arabic in Jewish schools and Hebrew in Arabic speaking schools, supporting Jewish and Arab women in creating art together, in increasing their skills and employment opportunities, in finding ways for Jewish and Arab children to learn together, to play together, to understand what they have in common and not what makes them different.
During the recent unrest in the city, there was fear among many that this delicate fabric of trust and understanding would be broken and the geopolitical would again tear apart the personal. It was the Jerusalem Tolerance Coalition – a group of over 60 organizations committed to shared living, based in the Shared Living Hub in our office – which was inundated with inquiries and requests for more programming and more support to keep these avenues of communication and consideration open, and to provide even more opportunities to respond differently to the challenges facing the city.
The resilience of the people of Jerusalem and their need and will to live together and flourish, is what makes our work for shared living feel hopeful. The diversity of the city is also one of its strengths, and shared living is the strategic asset needed to ensure the future of Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Foundation continues its efforts to strengthen the most important asset in the city through projects that bring people together and build bridges between all the communities of Jerusalem.