Path to Peace

“The NEVE HANNA Children’s Home is privileged to cherish a Shared Community of Jews, Muslims and Christians. We keep on furthering our communal life characterized by tolerance, mutual respect and peaceful coexistence and consider our Shared Community as a source of light and hope for peace for all the people and peoples of our country.”
~ Rabbi Liron Levy Rosensaft – Neve Hanna Children’s Home

Jewish Bedouin Daycare Center

About 25 year ago, the by then present director of Neve Hanna, David (Dudu) Weger, perpetuated the vision of the founder of Neve Hanna, Hanni Ullmann (died in 2002). He established contact with the nearby Bedouin city of Rahat in order to foster mutual understanding between different peoples. For many years Neve Hanna and its Rahat partners organized Youth Encounters.

Youth aged 16-18 living in Neve Hanna and Rahat met twice a month in Neve Hanna and in Rahat alternately to discuss issues out of their daily, school and familial lives, to celebrate holidays of both religions and to learn to know their families. This program was meant to expand the impact of the encounter and joint work of children from both cultures and carry the message of coexistence to their families and communities. Family relations also benefited from the program, as parents see how differences may be bridged through good will and cooperation. Over the year, strong relations were established far beyond the scope of this program.

In 2004, in memory of the late founder of Neve Hanna Hanni Ullmann, Neve Hanna founded the “Path to Peace” daycare center for Jewish and Bedouin children. The first project of this kind founded in Israel. Both Hebrew and Arabic are spoken at the day care center, and the children are cared for by a Jewish educator and a Muslim educator. This center offers educational activities, as well as helping families in economic, social and emotional distress. This venture, based on cooperation with our Bedouin partners from the city of Rahat, aims to give children the tools to deal with and to master multiple behavioral, social and scholastic problems, as well as to empower socially underprivileged sectors of society, offering equal opportunity to all and promoting international understanding.

Project objectives

  • Bring together three cultural worlds and teach participants how to live and work together in harmony.
  • Strengthen individual and group identity while reducing prejudice and xenophobia among children who have suffered rejection and social isolation and need to learn how to build trustworthy relationships.
  • Open a dialogue on questions relating to peace and co-existence, turning the children into ambassadors of peace within their families and communities.
  • Promote the creative potential of participants and encourage them to express themselves in drama, dance, music, fine arts and design.
  • Boost self esteem and self confidence through positive experiences and success and demonstrate how hard work, practice and cooperation lead to the achievement of high goals in life.
  • Greatly widen the teenagers’ horizons as they are taken to watch other theater performances and travel in Israel as well as abroad.

Issues addressed The Joint Jewish-Bedouin Groups were designed in light of a problem witnessed by our staff: Neve Hanna youth, who in early childhood were faced with rejection and neglect as well as social isolation or biased conduct, have grown to view rejection as the normative behavior and have developed feelings of rejection towards other weak groups in society. Neve Hanna youth needed to be taught how to integrate socially and learn to accept all people, disregarding differences between them. We decided to use our expertise in various fields of therapy to assist our youth not only overcome childhood traumas, but also to build bridges to mutual understanding and cooperation with other groups in society. Our working methodology concentrates on the individual on the one hand, with therapeutic treatment designed to suit personal preferences and inclination while dealing with personal hardships. On the other hand, we chose to concentrate on group therapy and dialogue in order to promote understanding and build bridges to trust and friendship between groups in society. A long process combining individual and group therapies along with group work requiring cooperation and trust would yield results on the individual as well as the group level. Participants who learn the value of cooperation, trust, group work and friendship would carry on the message to their families and communities.

Our vision for the NEVE HANNA Children’s Home is education for tolerance and the acceptance of the different.  These children are often treated by normative society with prejudice and suspicion and generally experience difficulties to integrate socially.  In consequence, they consider this attitude as the normative behavior and implement it in their daily relationships. We aim to change these patterns of behavior by means of education.  We have chosen to face this problem by exposing the children to another group who suffers from prejudice and discrimination – Bedouin teenagers.  We want them to learn in a playful and educational way, how to bridge over cultural and social gaps.  We hope that by doing so, we will reduce the fear of the other and encourage mutual acceptance and tolerance.

Golden Dove Award
Golden Dove Peace Award 

2015-16, Neve Hanna Children’s Home was presented The Golden Dove of Peace award, in recognition of its outstanding work in educating children in accordance with the principles of tolerance, democracy and love for the fellow man as well as its special achievements within the field of International Understanding between Jewish, Bedouin, Muslim and Christian communities.


Project includes:

  • Two staff members supervising the children of the “Path to Peace”.
  • A social worker coordinates all the matters between Neve Hanna, the children, their parents, schools and public authorities.
  • Travel expenses.
  • Food and clothing.
  • Teaching material.
  • Group activities.
  • Parent-child activities.

Project Description: The Joint Jewish Bedouin Daycare Center Path to Peace serves 8 Bedouin teens and 8 Jewish teens from low socio economic and emotionally dysfunctional families who were referred to the program by social services. The teens arrive to the center daily and return home, remaining in their homes and attending regular schools. The center provides the teens with therapeutic and educational services.

Cooperation of the Families: An essential factor in the success of this venture is parents’ cooperation. They enroll their children in the daycare program as an active step toward a foreseeable change. They take part in a program designed especially for them, including joint parent-child-activities and future activities for parents only, aiming to bring together Jewish and Bedouin parents.

The Daily Routine: Children in the daycare programs arrive at NEVE HANNA after their school day has ended. The Jewish children come from Kiryat Gat, while the Bedouin children come from Rahat. They have lunch together and then start group activity. One hour is devoted to doing homework with the help of counselors. Children then go to individual therapy programs or join leisure time activities and courses. After dinner, children are driven home.

Goals: The daycare program offers therapeutic treatment and scholastic assistance to children with behavioral and social problems whose families struggle in addition with a variety of different hardships. The Jewish and Bedouin participants form bonds based on mutual respect, friendship and acknowledgement of the other. It is thus that the two groups are brought closer in the purpose of fighting bias, establishing a liberal worldview based on values of international understanding, tolerance and pluralism among children as well as adults.

We offer a large variety of therapeutic measures, such as art therapy, movement therapies, animal-assisted therapy, therapeutic horseback riding and psychological therapies.

We tailor a therapeutic program suited individually to the personality and needs of every teenager and parents at different stages of intervention.  The variety of therapies is an important factor in the healing process of these kids, and our success in raising funds will lead to the increase of therapeutic variety and frequency.

The kids need to be provided with fundamental learning and behavioral habits, and assisted in order to reduce the learning gaps.  As part of the daily routine the teens meet the professional teachers who develop individual learning programs for each child, including the remedial teaching and the acquirement of basic learning skills.  The proposed enrichment and tutoring is a critical measure to enable these children to integrate successfully into the educational system and in normative life.  In addition, as part of the therapeutic program, we established a join Jewish-Muslim Theatre group that incorporates dance, theatre and music activities that highlight the need for cooperation and mutual understanding, between the members, via methods of leisure and fun.