Community Circles


Did you know that Julia Howe’s 1870 Mother’s Day Proclamation envisioned a day for peace, so that mothers around the world would not lose any more children to war and conflict? She called upon mothers of all nationalities to band together to promote the “amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.”
This year’s Hands of Peace Benefit Week will honor that vision with a 5K Walk for Peace on Mother’s Day, May 9 (though you can do your 5K any day). You can invite family and friends around the world to walk with you and support your walk to raise sponsorships for Hands of Peace participants. With the light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel, bid on vacation stays and other auction items – the Silent Auction starts Saturday, May 8. Then, on Sunday, May 16 – enjoy a Virtual Benefit full of alumni stories and performances calling on all of us to “Walk the Talk” by fostering equality, freedom and justice. Go here for registration and sponsorship details.


July 11, 2021
9 pm I/P / 1:00 pm CDT / 11:00 am PDT

Join cultural guides Aziz Abu Sarah and Kim Passy Yoseph from Hands of Peace travel partner Mejdi Tours as they share Israeli and Palestinian variations of  Shakshuka,  a popular Middle Eastern recipe. Discover the cultural influences and historical background of this delicious dish. For the 90-minute live Zoom cooking session, you will receive a packet of special spices to add to your ingredients. Registration fee: $35. Please sign up before June 27  in order to receive the spices before the class.

Go here to register



August 22, 2021
9 pm I/P / 1:00 pm CDT / 11:00 am PDT

Join author Sulaiman Khatib as he shares how his activism became deeply rooted in the belief that we must ground all work—from dialogue to direct action to healing—in recognition of the history and humanity of the other. In this inspiring conversation about peacebuilding, Khatib reveals how he became convinced that Palestinian freedom can flourish alongside Jewish connection to the land where he was born.

Go here to register



Saturday, April 10, 2021 – John Lyndon, ALLMEP Executive Director, and Huda Abuarquob, ALLMEP Regional Director joined Hands of Peace Executive Director Scott Rasmussen for a powerful and inspiring conversation about people-to-people peacebuilding and the impact of the historic passage of the Middle East Partnership for Peace Act (MEPPA).  A coalition of over 125 organizations – including Hands of Peace – the Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP) is the largest and fastest-growing network of Palestinian and Israeli peacebuilders.


Sunday, February 14, 2021 – The discussion about the film ‘Til Kingdom Come and the issues it raises included a panel with Israeli filmmakers Maya Zinshtein and Abie Troen, and Palestinian Pastor Munther Isaac, moderated by Hands of Peace Executive Director Scott Rasmussen. 


Grassroots movements that create spaces for dialogue and action across lines of difference form an essential building block of sustainable peace. What are the unique advantages and challenges to these efforts, and how do you create ethical frameworks that pursue open opportunities for exchange while also calling participants into action that maximizes dignity, security, and freedom for all?

Those questions and more were answered by Hands of Peace alumni Stav Arnon and Elias Hawila and Executive Director Scott Rasmussen in the first of a Telos Webinar Series, “Peacemaking from Bottom to Top” on January 26. To view the entire webinar see below. If you are interested in the rest of the Telos series go here.


The views of speakers/films/books in this section do not represent the views of Hands of Peace. We encourage the Hands of Peace community, just like our young leaders, to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. To best do that, we list a wide spectrum of events and encourage people to attend some that offer differing perspectives. Listed events are selected to inspire dialogue amongst alumni and our community and to present diverse perspectives. We hope you will join us.


Taking Care of Our Planet: What Do the Sacred Texts Teach?
Thursday, April 22nd, 2021 at 7:00-8:30 PM CST
Hosted by New Trier Multifaith Alliance

From Fear to Compassion: Building Hope in Difficult Times
Wednesday, April 28th, 2021 at 5:30-6:45 PM CST
Shaykha Dr. Tamara Gray-Founder of Rabata

Why I am Muslim: Stories from our Converts
Wednesday, May 5th, 2021 at 5:30-6:45 PM CST
Ali Dia, Executive Dir. & Dr. Will Caldwell, Outreach Dir. – Taleef Collectiv

Register here for free.


Apr 20, 2021 02:00 PM Eastern

What is linguistic justice, why is it important, and how are Israeli and Palestinian women working together to create real change across Jerusalem? Lissan is a nonprofit organization that promotes linguistic justice in Jerusalem, and through their program Medabrot Ivrit (Women Speaking Hebrew), they teach Hebrew conversational skills to women in East Jerusalem, directly responding to the unique challenges these women face on a daily basis. Coming on the heels of women’s history month, join IAN, Lissan, and Amal-Tikva for a conversation with Lia and Sondos, two volunteer teachers in the Medabrot Ivrit program who are using language education to promote a more just Jerusalem. Additionally, find out what you and your network can do to support their work.



“Choose not to look, however, at your own peril. The owner of an old house knows that whatever you are ignoring will never go away. Whatever is lurking will fester whether you choose to look or not. Ignorance is no protection from the consequences of inaction. Whatever you are wishing away will gnaw at you until you gather the courage to face what you would rather not see.”
― Isabel Wilkerson, Caste

Beautifully written, original and revealing, Caste is an immersive, deeply researched narrative exploring how America today and throughout its history has been shaped by a hidden caste system. Using compelling stories about people —including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, and the author herself —Isabel Wilkerson shows the ways that the insidious undertow of Caste is experienced every day. Read Caste, named the #1 Nonfiction Book of the Year by Time Magazine and a #1 New York Times Bestseller, then join Hands of Peace for the March Virtual Book Circle, Sunday, March 14, 3:00 pm CDT, 1:00 pm PDT. 

Crossing Boundaries: A Traveler’s Guide to World Peace

More than 30 alumni, parents, and supporters from the Hands of Peace community came together for a candid and engaging discussion about “Crossing Boundaries: A Traveler’s Guide to World Peace” in November with author Aziz Abu Sarah.

During Founder Gretchen Grad’s interview with Aziz you learned how good travelers are driven by curiosity and how you can be an ambassador in people to people diplomacy. After Gretchen’s interview, participants gathered for breakout discussions about satisfying the travel itch during COVID and making more meaningful connections when you are finally able to make that next trip.

Go here to watch Gretchen’s interview with Aziz 

How to Be an Antiracist

More than 50 alumni, parents, and supporters from the Hands of Peace community came together Sunday, August 16, for an open, candid and courageous discussion about “How to Be an Antiracist.” Hands of Peace Outreach Coordinator and alumna Maeve Plunkett joined with Raising Youth Voices Program Coordinator Dania Zanaid to co-host the Hands of Peace Virtual Book Circle, in partnership with the San Diego Diplomacy Council.

Named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Publisher’s Weekly, “How to Be an Antiracist” is the featured book for the Hands of Peace August Virtual Book Circle. Praised as “The most courageous book to date on the problem of race in the Western mind” (New York Times), Kendi’s groundbreaking work brings a new approach to understanding and uprooting racism and inequality.

Take Action to Address Racism: Curated by youth from Hands of Peace: Raising Youth Voices, this helpful list includes actions to take, resources and organizations to support.



Hands of Peace welcomes alumni Nour Abdelmonem, Charles Manning and Lexie Tucker to the new Community Circles Committee (CCC).
Nour, 2010-2011, is a first-year consultant and workstream leader at EY-Parthenon. Charles, 2011-2012, is a law student at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. Lexie, 2018-2019, recently finished her third semester at Mira Costa Community College and hopes to work in Nablus teaching children later this year.
Nour, Charles and Lexie join longtime Hands of Peace volunteers Dianne Nichols, Mary Scherr and Melinda Wynar to research, recommend and plan Community Circles including panels, learning conversations, and book and film discussions.