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Advancing Tolerance in Jerusalem: The Teachers' Lounge

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“Teachers in Jerusalem are on the front lines,” explains Dr. Michal Muszkat-Barkan, Director of HUC-JIR’s Department of Education and Professional Development at the Taube Family Campus in Jerusalem. “Every day in their classrooms, these educators who are Jews and Arabs, Christians and Muslims, religious and secular, have to face the fear of the ‘other,’ the stereotypes, and sometimes the hatred. In The Teachers’ Lounge, we create opportunities for teachers to discuss their own fears and aspirations and to create shared pedagogies for tolerance and pluralism.”

During the ten-session program, four groups of sixteen teachers get to know one another, gain an understanding of each other’s communities and neighborhoods, and develop the pedagogic tools to bring their encounters into their classrooms. As they draw a map of “their” Jerusalem, share narratives, and study key texts together, they enrich each other’s perspectives. Some of these teachers will go on to become facilitators to more groups of teachers to ensure a growing number of educators and schools that will change the conversation about Jerusalem.

The Teacher's Lounge is supported by the family of 16-year-old Shira Banki, who was tragically murdered at the Jerusalem Pride Parade in 2015. The Jerusalem Municipality Department of Education, Israel’s largest educational department, supports this program, offering teacher enrichment credits that benefit the teachers and serve as a powerful incentive to join the program. In addition, the program receives support from the Jerusalem Foundation and the New Israel Foundation. The Teachers’ Lounge is part of the citywide ‘This Is Jerusalem’ initiative, which is organized by a variety of cultural, educational, and social action organizations that share responsibility for shaping the multi-faceted, pluralistic, and tolerant character of Jerusalem.

If you have any questions about The Teachers' Lounge, please contact Saar Yavo, The Teachers' Lounge Coordinator, at saaryavo@gmail.com.

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