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Bridging the Gap

A Joint Art Program at the Israel Museum for Jewish and Arab Students from Jerusalem

Jerusalem is a city in which both Jewish and Arab children live. However, due to their different language, culture, neighborhoods, as well as the separate school systems that they attend, they never have the chance to meet each other.

Jewish and Arab children in Jerusalem are facing many challenges as residents of the same city, for example, prejudices that arise from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, cultural and religious differences, and different life routines in East- and West Jerusalem. 

We support our partner The Israel Museum in running the course "Bridging the Gap", which provides a shared space for Jerusalem youth from both sides of the city, and enables them to meet and interact through joint art lessons. The languages of the course are Arabic and Hebrew. All introductions are made in both languages. For group desiccations and the creative part, the project facilitates translators, so that the youngsters can communicate with each other.

The Hanns Seidel Foundation is supporting the Bridging the Gap project since 2019, alongside with the German friends of the Israel Museum. Since the project started over 26 years ago, it always took place at the Youth Wing at the Israel Museum. However, the Covid-19 pandemic led to sporadic forced closures of the museum, bringing with it serious challenges, including the temporary suspension of the Youth Wing’s on-site educational programs. Therefore, the program had to be adjusted accordingly and switch to online workshops.

So despite all challenges, the Bridging the Gap project could start also this academic year 2020/21 with a mixed group of 5th and 6th graders as well as for a second mixed group of 8th graders. Two schools from the Jewish and one school from the Arab sector participated in the program. 

Due to the ongoing situation of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was decided by the museum staff to perform the entire program digitally. Through this joint project together, the work on the same topic as well as the bilingual approach as teaching method the students increased the tolerance for each other and prejudices could be reduced. The Zoom lessons offered also a glimpse of the living reality "on the other site" that contributed to more understanding between them.

The topic of this year's project activities was animation techniques. Here some impressions of the final products that the students created all by themselves at home during the lessons.