Executive Director’s Report
Dear JPB Friends and Supporters,
2022 stands as a landmark year for Jerusalem Peacebuilders (JPB). Its challenges and accomplishments reflect our story over the past 12 years – a story of commitment, adaptation, and partnership in the service of God and humanity. In 2011, JPB began with a summer youth institute in Vermont, a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and a five-part educational series for adults in Connecticut. 2011’s three programs directly impacted 250 adults and youth.
In 2022, JPB’s operations further included: in-school courses for Israeli, Palestinian, and American youth; EXCEL professional development for Israeli Arab and Jewish high school teachers; Palestinian women’s empowerment; and medical infrastructure advocacy. 2022’s 49 programs directly impacted 10,000 adults and youth!
In 2011, JPB began with a budget of $53,000. In 2022, our budget totaled near $790,000.
This is quite a story, and it would never have been possible without the trust, prayers, hard work, and generosity of JPB’s staff, board-members, partners, and friends like you. Please accept my thanks for your vital participation in JPB’s mission to advance shared society and peace in Israel and Palestine through interfaith reconciliation and leadership development programs.
This report reviews five core components of our operations in 2022: Staffing, EXCEL Teacher-Training Institute, In-School Peacebuilding Courses, Summer Youth Institutes, and Women’s Empowerment.
2022 presented JPB with significant staffing opportunities, creating a rare opportunity for JPB to recalibrate its operations. During the autumn, veteran JPB educators Sarah Benazera and Deacon Jack Karn transitioned to new duties within JPB. These key transitions allow JPB to right-size its “retail,” in-school programs, focusing more on schools in Jerusalem and shifting human resources into the EXCEL professional development program for Israeli Arab and Jewish educators.
EXCEL: Teacher-Training Institute
Launched in cooperation with the Israeli non-profit Retorika for Multiculturalism, the EXCEL Institute is an experiential teacher-training program that unites, resources, and motivates selected Israeli high school educators for the purpose of advancing peacebuilding that strengthens Israeli democracy and addresses intercommunal traumas dividing Israel’s Jewish and Arab populations. Each year the EXCEL institute graduates 20 to 40 educators who are eager to incorporate peacebuilding in their classrooms.
Because EXCEL intentionally impacts state high school educators and benefits thousands of students each year, operation of this program cumulatively contributes to the systemic change of education and youth formation in Israel. This presents a rare strategic opportunity for JPB: first to pivot from our teaching in high school classrooms to equipping high school teachers to teach our curriculum in their classrooms; and second to fulfill our mission by empowering hundreds of local Israeli Arab and Jewish educators to be active, cooperative peacebuilders.
In-School Peacebuilding Courses
In-School programming allows JPB 1) sustained impact on youth throughout the year, 2) greater control over summer camps admissions, and 3) an amplified organizational profile within regional high school systems.
Establishing the EXCEL teacher-training institute soon led to a huge boost for the in-school programs, with EXCEL grads (teachers) enthusiastically inviting JPB educators to lead programs in their classrooms across Israel.
However, in 2022, this demand pushed JPB’s small staff into overdrive and tempted JPB to hire an army of educators to meet demand. Such consequences neither honored our mission nor squared with our limited capacities.
Yet it was these very pressures that led us to recognize the way to engage thousands of teens across the Holy Lands: pivoting from our teaching in Israeli high school classrooms to equipping high school teachers to teach our curriculum in their classrooms. In 2022, JPBLD staff taught in 14 schools. Holding to 20 in 2023 will fuel demand for our programs and generate opportunities for EXCEL grads to launch their own programs.
In-school teaching in Houston concluded in an orderly fashion during 2022. With Deacon Jack Karn's departure to Denver, these programs are on-hold, with the exception of Interfaith Youth Houston. Working with Houston-based board members and partners at the Minaret Foundation and the Diocese of Texas, we hope to identify a part-time educator to resume in-school teaching by Winter 2023.
Summer Youth Institutes
Last summer’s four youth institutes in Connecticut and Texas represented a triumph after two years of dormancy due to COVID-19. But success was not without challenges, and these underscored the need to strengthen staff training, participant selection, and program quality. In 2023, JPB will limit our summer youth institutes to two programs – one in Texas (Level II) and one in Connecticut (Level IV).
Benefitting from lessons learned in 2022, we will rebuild our consecutive, four-year summer youth institute program. In 2024, we plan for three programs: Level I in TX, Level II in CT, and Level III in Geneva (Suisse). In 2025, we envision four programs: Level I in TX, Level II in Northern Ireland, Level III in CT and Level IV in Geneva (Suisse). We also expect the applicant pool will shift from direct recruits to applicants from courses led by EXCEL grads. While the source of applications may change, JPB will maintain control over admissions and staffing.
Palestinian Women’s Empowerment
In 2022, JPB launched a training project that meets the social, civic, and religious needs of educated women, ages 22 – 32, by providing them with a sustained platform for interfaith citizenship, professional development, peer support, and leadership training. It seeks to ignite a vanguard of self-sustaining, micro-entrepreneurial, Palestinian women who work in formal markets with legal protections and partake in leadership roles that shape local life and governance.
Much of 2022 was spent designing the curriculum, recruiting participants, forging regional partnerships, and completing legal and logistical arrangements. The program’s first official session took place in January 2023. The next three years should be very exciting.
Three vital conclusions emerge from 2022 operations. First, JPB remains a small, interfaith, educational non- profit supported by generous individuals and faith-based entities who share our passion for peace. Second, reciprocal interfaith partnerships are integral to our organizational model. They represent both the ways and means to advance our mission of shared society and peace in Israel, Palestine and the United States. Third, JPB’s mission in the Holy Lands will be best served by developing our EXCEL teacher-training program to equip educators to provide peacebuilding programs in their classrooms. This will dramatically scale up JPB’s impact and generate systemic change inside Israeli high schools. Furthermore, it will empower hundreds of local Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Druze educators to be active, cooperative peacebuilders.
(The Rev. Canon) Nicholas Porter