Dror Israel’s after-school program in the Hadar neighborhood of Haifa celebrates the diversity of its students
Beit HaTzeirim (youth home) is hosting a series of holiday events to celebrate all the winter holidays. So far, they have had a Hannukah celebration and a Chag HaChagim (Festival of Festivals) event during the school break.
Shachar Reitish, an educator at Beit HaTzeirim said that “at the Hannukah festival, we had a candle lighting ceremony. It is always interesting to light candles with participants because some come from Jewish families, some are Christians, and some are Jews who aren't so familiar with Jewish traditions. This simple act of lighting candles and singing blessings has something that joins the kids together, no matter what their religion is.”
“During the Festival of Festivals activity we played a trivia game about the holidays: Christmas, Hanukkah, Sigd, Novy God (Russian New Year) and Eid al-Adha (which changes time of year each year so it isn’t always in the winter, but we always include it) and the kids try to remember the answers from year to year. Every time when there is a word or custom or story that they identify with or know from home they get excited, dance in place excitedly, and try not to shout the answer before the question is over.”
Like the fascinating community of Haifa’s Hadar neighborhood in which it is located, Beit HaTzeirim welcomes 4th-6th grade children of various backgrounds – Christians, Muslims, Jews, Ethiopians, Filipinos, Arabs - it is a stunning mosaic of children and families, of different cultures each with their own unique holidays and traditions.
Beit HaTzeirim is also planning a holiday trip for the kids and their families. On the trip they will visit the safari and host a holiday event where all 250 participants will have a place to share their family traditions and holidays. The celebrations aim to inspire all the kids to be proud of who they are and the traditions they bring from home.
During the New Year’s period they plan to build and decorate a tree for Novy God and Christmas, with the goal of creating a space for all the children and their traditions.
"It is so special to encourage the participants and residents of the neighborhood to be proud of who they are. Their home and their traditions are something that empowers everyone who takes part in it, and I am always happy to see that spark in the children's eyes,” said Raitish.
The activities are done in collaboration with the Shahaf Foundation and the Changing Neighborhoods project and private donors who have supported us.