Over 50 Jewish and Arab “Minis” (PeacePlayers ages 8 to 10) from four different Jerusalem communities came together this week for another action-packed twinning. Girls and boys from the Arab communities of Beit Safafa and Esawiah, as well as the Jewish school Keshet and the mixed Hand in Hand school, met at the Hand in Hand gym to learn some basketball, have a great time, and hopefully make some friends from “the other side.” This was just one of many large twinnings that all four of these teams will have together throughout the year. These teams already had their first encounter of the year in December, at this season’s Abe and Irene Pollin Holiday Happening.
Vito Gilic led participants in lively basketball sessions filled with unique relay races. Coach Vito not only had the kids working on their dribbling skills but also created special activities where partners made up of one Jewish participant and one Arab participant had to trust one another and work together. At one point the partners had to run across the court holding a basketball in between them without using their hands.
Another event included one partner holding the other’s legs while the other raced across the floor on their hands, also known as “wheelbarrow racing.” This taught the kids to trust and depend on each other while hysterically laughing the entire time. It was truly remarkable to watch kids from different worlds learn to communicate and work together.
In addition to the basketball portion of the gathering, interactive Anatomy of Peace Curriculum sessions were held by facilitators Nissreen Najjar and Renana Gal. The kids sat down together in the courtyard outside and were encouraged to discuss their own thoughts and feelings as well as learn about important topics such as “seeing people as people” despite any differences they may have. It is extremely heartwarming to experience such a wonderful event, seeing kids who may harbor many misconceptions about other’s religions and cultures, come together and learn that we all have many more similarities than differences.