Celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah together in an exciting event throughout the Shared Society Youth Movement Branches
In late December, between Hanukkah and Christmas, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish youth in Israel gather together to celebrate the Festival of Winter Holidays. This festival of festivals is especially meaningful in mixed cities like Haifa, Jaffa, Jerusalem and Ramle, where youth movement branches have members of multiple religions. In Dror Israel’s youth movement, we called these branches “shared society.”
At the shared society branch in Jaffa, small groups of youth gathered (in compliance with Health Ministry guidelines) to celebrate and learn about Christmas and Hanukkah together.
As a mixed group reflective of the local population, the focus of the program was to enable dialogue and cross-cultural understanding between members of different religions. The participants ranged between fourth and eleventh grade, with the tenth and eleventh graders facilitating the programming for the youngest participants.
The meeting began, as many of the programs in the shared society branches begin, with a conversation setting ground rules for ensuring a constructive and safe encounter - such as no racist statements and no verbal or physical violence. The youth learned about the different holidays through discussion and games. They learned about different symbols and traditions of the holidays and their meanings.
The programming included a ceremony for the younger participants in which they received their movement shirts for the first time. This highly anticipated moment gives them a sense of belonging and symbolizes their membership and responsibility for their branch.
At the end of the activities, the high school participants walked to the nearby central square of Jaffa to see a Winter Festival light display featuring giant lit up Dreidels as well as a beautiful Christmas tree. The teens were really excited and shared that it was a meaningful continuation of their programming for them to see the symbols of their holidays proudly displayed together.