Acting Locally

13 January 2016

Do you want to know where your city is headed? Do you think you know your local council? Do you want to change things for the better in your town? Thinking Locally: A Manual for Action, a website/guide launched this month provides people who want to act locally with the knowledge and tools to do so. Its user-friendly home page features three key links: “I have an idea for an initiative;” “I want to know more;” and “I want to take part in the decision-making process.” Aimed primarily at the non-activist public, the manual is a collaboration between the Heschel Center, The Local Social Guard, the Union of Publicly Elected Local Officials in Israel, the Workshop for Public Knowledge, NIFD partner Shaharit, Injaz, the Center for Professional Arab Local Government and Shatil.

Acting locally

On Christmas Eve, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim members of the Shatil-led Arab-Jewish Citizens’ Forum for the Promotion of Health in the Galilee brought smiles to the faces of children in the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya – including Syrian children injured in the civil war there — by distributing treats, gifts and holiday cheer.

And on December 21, the shortest, darkest day of the year and during an especially dark period for Jewish-Arab relations, a multi-generational group of 50 Jewish and Arab residents of Karmiel gathered for an event called “Bringing Light,” in which they engaged in dialogue, created lanterns from recycled materials, shedding light on the dark Karmiel streets.

A group of protestors who tried to disrupt the event were kept at bay by police. The event was organized by Rabbi Gadi Raviv and Shatil’s Shared Society Project coordinator Doaa Diab-Abu Elhija. Similar events organized by the Reform Movement took place in 10 other Israeli cities as well as cities in the U.S.

“I am thrilled with the participants’ excitement and energy,” said Rabbi Raviv. “People talked about what light means to them – love, hope, faith, knowing one another, and courage. It’s not a given that people who don’t know one another would talk together about peace and connection without cynicism, aggression or ego — and suddenly feel connected.” The children, he added, felt proud to be part of something important.

Diab-Abu Elhija added: “This was the first collaboration between Shatil’s Karmiel Shared Society Group and the city’s Reform Movement and that in itself is meaningful and important. It was an event that united people and showed there is another way. And that we need to keep hope in our hearts and in actions and together take steps to build a shared, respectful, accepting and pluralistic society.”