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Projects & Ventures

About Our Projects

The Gesher Leadership Course develops new and relevant initiatives and projects that promote co-existence.

The purpose of the initiatives is to take the knowledge and experience acquired in the course and implement it in practice.  Every fellow in the course is required to create a project whose purpose is to promote discussion and integration of the different parts of the Israeli society and between Israel and the Diaspora.   The Gesher Leadership Course provides support in the thinking process, and the planning and implementation of all projects, offers guidance by expert mentors, and even provides financial support for specific initiatives.

Employment Initiative

Raz Tamari and Yael Elimelech, Gesharim Leadership Course Fellows 2014

“We Also Know How to Do It”

An integrative project of 17 haredi women from the sales and service hotline at Natali HealthCare Solutions.

Through adapting the workplace environment and the cooperation of the bodies responsible for integration and placement from the Haredi sector, a program was created to effectively absorb and integrate Haredi women in the firm.

The program is based on the premise that working together creates a natural setting for contact and dialogue that crosses sectoral barriers.

Cultural Initiatives

Adi Akunis, Sarah Darshan, and Ahuvi Shvirtz, Gesharim Leadership Course Fellows 2015

“Ketuba”

The project consists of joint writing workshops for haredi, secular and dati women.  Its purpose is to enable direct contact around the themes of creativity, language, and Jewish culture.   Writing and reading authentic prose outside of sectoral boundaries enables exposure and genuine understanding between different groups in the Israeli public.  The workshops are conducted by first-rate writers.

Dr. Hila David, Gesharim Leadership Course Fellow 2014

Joint Cultural and Artistic Interactions for Religious and Secular Students

Hila recruited principals, educators, and coordinators as her partners, a “Culture Basket” of approximately 70 religious and secular schools in the Rishon LeTzion municipality, and she planned and produced a plethora of artistic and cultural activities for about 30,000 primary school children, all aimed at creating a homogenous and shared cultural discourse educationally adapted for different groups. For example, a program was created for 3,000 religious and secular students leading up to Yom Kippur, which entailed in-school preparation and study as well as attending performances of piyuttim and selihot sung in concert accompanied by the Andalusian Orchestra.

Initiatives in Education and Academia

 Dana Bernstein, Gesharim Leadership Course Fellow 2014

This project created a continuing education course on Haredi society for the staff of the Haredi branch of the Bezalel Academy in the areas of architecture and fine arts, with the goal of improving their quality and the learning atmosphere.  The teaching staff of the Haredi branch is composed both of current Bezalel faculty who are mainly secular as well as the staff of the “Oman” branch, most of whose staff are female and Haredi.  The course provided a knowledge base about the Haredi community, an understanding of the complex world of Haredi women, integration into academia, a discussion on the topic “Can Haredim and the Arts Go Together?” and an in-depth introduction to the value system of the students.

Yael Kimchi, Gesharim Leadership Course Fellow 2014

Bridges in Academia

This project provided in-service courses for the academic staff on the Strauss Campus (Hadassah College).  It included meaningful contact with Haredi society and specifically with the students at the campus, discussions about the profound process that is taking place in Haredi society and its impact on the State of Israel, and a deep awareness of the change of which they taking part.  The course was adapted to the teaching staff of the college in order to improve the learning styles of the Haredi students on the Strauss campus.

Nati Becker and Michal Berman, Gesharim Leadership Course Fellows 2014

“One Torah-with Many Faces”

A Beit Midrash was established for Haredi, religious and secular Jews where all play central roles.  Joint study and discussion sessions were organized based on the inalienable assets of Jewish culture—Torah, Tanach, Midrash, Mishna, Gemara, modern thought, poetry and literature.  “One Torah-with Many Faces” became a meeting place for people who recognize the need for Israeli society to unite and learn about one another, by emphasizing the common denominator that exists among the different groups who study in separate educational systems, live in separate neighborhoods, and know very little about one another.

Touring Initiatives

David Ansbacher, Gesharim Leadership Course Fellow 2014

“People on the Inside”

These unique tours were directed towards people and not places, at cultures and not at landscapes.  This project attempted to open a window to directly learn about different sectors of the Israel populace, in a thought-provoking, inspiring, and bonding way.  The project does away with preconceived notions and assumptions by enabling meetings with individuals or organizations with fascinating and inspiring personal stories such as with an archaeologist at the site of his dig, a conservation architect at his building site, a visit to the central Beit Midrash of Belz Hassidim, or a private visit to a Hassidic family in their home.  The tours are accompanied by discussions on questions about the connection to the State, military service, standard of living, large families, and the like.

Shoshana Becker and Bitia Malach, Gesharim Leadership Course Fellows 2015

“A Bridge of Royalty”

In cooperation with Gesher and Malkat Hamidbar Tour Company, these fellows initiated a challenging women’s trip called “The Queen of Bridges.”   In July 2016, 28 Haredi, religious, and secular women embarked on an unforgettable journey for women’s empowerment to enchanting Georgia.  The trip included getting to know one another, creating bridges, and engaging in meaningful dialogue between women from different groups of the population that usually have no contact with each other.  The group met before the trip for a preliminary discussion in order to strengthen their connection before the trip.  Additional follow-up sessions are planned to process their experiences further and enrich the bonds between the women.

Community Initiatives

Shira Katz Winker, Gesharim Leadership Course Fellow 2014

“Jerusalem Mix”

The project involves meetings of Haredi and secular women in the Nachlaot section of Jerusalem, seeking a common language and leading to working within the neighborhood.  Nachlaot is a mixed neighborhood in Jerusalem which includes a young secular and religious population along with Haredi communities.  Tensions exist between the communities as well as apathy and sense of being apart.  The project brought together varied groups of women who differed both in age and sector affiliation for a series of meetings, and from the outset discussions focused on ways to effect change.

Ronit Cohen Gluzberg, Gesharim Leadership Course Fellow 2015

“Neighbors Neighbors”

The “Neighbors Neighbors” project created a mechanism for community dialogue for the residents of the French Hill and Ramat Eshkol neighborhoods in Jerusalem who are experiencing demographic change with the addition of a Haredi population into their respective neighborhoods.  The meetings take place once a month and their purpose is to change the tone of the neighborhood dialogue from one of struggle to one of outreach, understanding, and creating consensus in order to enable the different communities to live side by side in one neighborhood without strife.   Ronit set up a steering committee which is made up of organization representatives and community heads active in the neighborhoods in order to create an appropriate model for the integration of people in the community.  The hope is that in the future the model will serve other neighborhoods in Jerusalem and in Israel to support a multicultural and pluralistic fabric of life.

Uri Eynan and Yisrael Tik, Gesharim Leadership Course Fellows 2015

The project will involve a series of acquaintance meetings for a group of Haredi and secular participants.  The discussion will include differences and similarities in the areas of Shabbat, education, child-rearing, livelihood and employment, military service, and more.  The project was created from the belief that outreach and personal contact is the way to shatter the fears and stigmas between the different sectors.  The first session is slated to take place in March 2016.

Zeev Kashash, Gesharim Leadership Course Fellow 2015

“Rescuing in Unity” is a series of challenging and fascinating sessions for “United Hatzala” volunteers in their various branches around the country.  The purpose of the meetings is to strengthen the bond and the social contact between the volunteers by means of dialogue moderated by Gesher.  This unusual meeting between volunteers from all sectors of the community who all work together in rescue services, invites the crews to open up issues and share common challenges.  Frank discussion strengthens relationships and mutual respect and improves the mutual familiarity and respect.

Avraham Hayun, Gesharim Leadership Course Fellow 2015

During the week of Yom Haatzmaut 2016, hundreds of young people active in SAHISpecial Hesed Unit—in Jerusalem, distributed flowers to passersby from different origins in the center of the city.  Each youngster gave two flowers to a person plus a card which had the following text: “Don’t’ forget that I am your brother—Independence with meaning,” and requested that one of the flowers be given to another person, different from the recipient.

The purpose is to recognize the other and to respect those from the broader populace in Jerusalem and throughout the country, and increasing the feeling of unity among the people while promoting tolerance and acceptance of the other.  The result was that the center city was full of smiling people of all backgrounds who gave 3500 flowers to one another, an opportunity to remind everyone that all of us are part of one people celebrating independence.

Communication Initiatives

Amichai Zevuloni, Gesharim Leadership Course Fellow 2015

“Haredi Ambassadors in Communications”

In the framework of the project there will be a workshop to create Haredi ambassadors in communication.  Years of experience in changing perceptions and the use of the media as a tool to achieve goals, combined with the awareness that there is not sufficient Haredi representation in the general media, caused Amichai Zevuloni to create a practical applied communications workshop, which will reveal the world of communications to young Haredim with the goal of learning how to use it as a tool to bridge between the sectors.