We know that you are facing many changes, challenges and uncertainties caused by the coronavirus and the impact it is having on every aspect of daily life. We sincerely hope that you take care of yourself and stay healthy.  At Hands of Peace, we are also experiencing great change. 

Summer Program
In order to protect the health and safety of our participants, staff and host families is our first concern. The coronavirus has forced the cancelation of the 2020 Summer Programs in Chicago and San Diego for the first time in 18 years. We are also postponing any face-to-face Alumni Seminars and uni-national meetings in Israel, Palestine and the U.S., important components of our year-round program.

We are deeply saddened for the program participants who were looking forward to this meaningful and life-changing experience, and have offered them a place in Summer Program 2021. To all our wonderful, generous host families, hard-working volunteer committee members and Summer Program staff -- we thank you for everything you do and welcome your continued involvement as we explore ways to keep us all connected.

With many alumni isolated in their communities by travel and health restrictions, we will remain in touch with them and are exploring ways to bring them together for dialogue through innovative communications, technology and partnerships.

“Reimagining” Hands of Peace
We will use this time to Reimagine Hands of Peace, with extensive feedback from our alumni, staff, Board and community members. We have wanted to evaluate our programs to make sure they are as relevant, evidence-based and impactful as possible, and this pause gives us the opportunity to do so. This reimagining will include a number of steps to keep our young people at the center of the process:

    • Gaining an even deeper understanding of the needs of Israeli, Palestinian and American youth in today’s environment
    • Generating ideas for how to best serve our participants, with their active involvement throughout
    • Testing those ideas, evaluating the results and continually improving the ways in which we serve youth leaders

We hope you will take part of Reminaging Hands of Peace. Please reach out to me at rkatz@handsofpeace.org if you would like to be involved. 

Leadership
As we begin the reimagining process, former Executive Director Rick Rosenfeld, in consultation with the Board, has stepped down to make way for new leadership with fresh ideas and energy. During his four years of service, Rick’s strategic thinking and extensive outreach created new partnerships and new opportunities for our participants and alumni. Rick knew every participant’s name, loved interacting with alumni, and cared deeply about the challenges staff and alumni face every day, particularly in Israel/Palestine. 

As a volunteer, Summer Program host and Board member, I was honored to work with Rick, and he will continue to be a valued member of the Hands of Peace community. My new role as Interim Director will focus on leading the organization while we conduct the search for a new Executive Director.

Unwavering Commitment to Hands of Peace Youth
Hands of Peace has always looked towards the future, and to our youth as leaders of a more peaceful and just global society. Our forward-looking approach continues even as we face new external pressures. Increasing polarization, economic destabilization and an unclear path for peace with justice in Israel/Palestine make it very challenging to hold a safe space for dialogue and connection.

The younger generation is demanding to be heard. And we will support them, even if planes aren’t flying and we can’t gather in the same room. The Hands of Peace community is vibrant and resilient. While change is the only constant these days, we are confident that we will emerge from this unprecedented situation stronger and even more united in our mission of empowering Israeli, Palestinian and American youth to raise their voices as leaders of change.