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29 leaders from the Jewish and Christian communities joined CCJ in writing to the Hand in Hand schools assure pupils, parents, and staff that their inspiring model of dialogue and mutual support across Israeli and Palestinian communities is in our thoughts during increased tension & violence.

15th May 2018

Dear friends in the Hand in Hand schools and communities,

Thank you so much for meeting again recently with the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ)’s leadership study tour of Israel-Palestine.

As Jewish and Christian community leaders in the UK, who have participated in CCJ’s study tours over the last three years, we are writing to assure you that our thoughts are with you at this period of particular tension and escalating violence in the region.

We have all been incredibly moved by the model of joint living that Hand in Hand embodies. We have been inspired by the ethos of your very special schools where Jews, Muslims, and Christians learn together; where Arabic and Hebrew is taught and spoken equally; and where neither Israeli nor Palestinian narrative is told over and above the other.

We are aware that current events in Jerusalem and Gaza must be particularly challenging for the children, parents, and teachers in the Hand in Hand schools and we wanted you to know that you are in our thoughts and prayers at this time, as you continue to bring communities together through education, dialogue, and mutual support.

On our most recent visit to Hand in Hand, Jerusalem we saw children’s artwork on the walls outside classrooms which read, in both Hebrew and Arabic: ‘Dialogue is a way of life’. How true! Only when communities come together, listen to each other’s narratives, and recognise each other’s mutual dependence for a secure future, can true peace be possible.

Please be assured that you inspire us with your courage and understanding of one another, and that we speak of your work whenever we are able as a model of how to bring peace to the region.

CCJ’s study tours of Israel-Palestine aim to enable Jews and Christians in the UK to engage in dialogue with one another, respect difference, and find common ground. Your schools are a powerful example of a shared society in action and this week we affirm and hold this example as evidence that hope for peace can still become a reality.

Signed:

Elizabeth Harris-Sawczenko, Director of the Council of Christians and Jews, and 29 others:

Revd Canon Anthony Ball, Chair of Trustees, Embrace the Middle East and Canon Steward, Westminster Abbey

Kat Brealey, National Programme Coordinator, Presence and Engagement, the Church of England

David Davidi-Brown, Chief Executive, the Union of Jewish Students

Rosa Doherty, Social Affairs Correspondent, the Jewish Chronicle

Very Revd Adrian Dorber, Dean, Lichfield Cathedral

Derek Estill, The United Reformed Church General Assembly Moderator Elect

Revd Bonnie Evans-Hills

Judith Flacks, Head of Campaigns, The Jewish Leadership Council

Revd Jessica Foster, Adviser to the Church of England Bishop of Birmingham

Rev Alexander Goldberg, Jewish Chaplain, University of Surrey

Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave OBE, Chair of the Council of Christians and Jews and Bishop of Lichfield

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism

Revd Brian Jolly, The United Reformed Church

Rachel Lampard MBE, ex Vice President of the Methodist Conference

Jemma Levene

Noah Levy, Israel Programmes Executive, the Union of Jewish Students

Tim Livesy, Chief Executive, Embrace the Middle East

Shelley Marsh, Executive Director, Reshet

Rabbi David Mason, Muswell Hill United Synagogue

Rachel Parry, Director of Global Relations, USPG

Philip Rosenberg, Public Affairs Director, the Board of Deputies of British Jews

Doreen Samuels, Trustee, the United Synagogue

Lindsay Simmonds, Lecturer, London School of Jewish Studies & Scholar in Residence, the Council of Christians and Jews

Rabbi Roni Tabick, Masorti Judaism

Rob Thompson, Senior Programme Manager, the Council of Christians and Jews

Joe Twilley, Communications Manager, Holocaust Memorial Day Trust

Mirella Yandoli, Interfaith Programme Officer, the Church of Scotland

Liron Velleman, Campaigns Manager, the Union of Jewish Students

Revd Dr Tom Wilson, Director, St Philip’s Centre