Letter from the Executive Director (March 2021)
Dear Friends and Family,
2021 begins a new era for Jerusalem Peacebuilders. In January, JPB marked its 10th anniversary of fostering peace, interfaith reconciliation, and new leadership in the Holy Lands. What began as a dream with 11 teens and one summer camp in 2011 has grown over 2,100% into dynamic year-round programming that – even with the pandemic – directly impacted 2,382 teens and adults in 100 communities during 2020.
Guiding this exponential growth has been thrilling for me, and many of you shared your enthusiasm and confidence by helping to set two records for the Winter Holiday Appeal: participation increased 25% and donations 30%. Thank you for your generous involvement!
Thanks to you, the staff, and the board, JPB now stands in a position of strength. Furthermore, regional energies favorable to our mission have emerged. Recently, Pope Francis visited Iraq with the express purpose of promoting interfaith and interethnic reconciliation. The United States reinitiated a measured reengagement with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that supports proactive cross-border and bi-communal peacebuilding. The American stance together with Israel’s exemplary COVID-19 vaccination program is affecting local education, politics, and the economy in ways that can only propel changes in Palestine.
I see in these circumstances an extraordinary opportunity for strategic, organizational development. To this end, the board, senior staff, and I have agreed to evaluate JPB’s operations, communications, plans, partnerships and leadership. This process will improve what JPB does and how we do it.
Some improvements will be more immediate, like our newsletter format. Thanks to the keen eyes of JPB intern Deacon John Hunt and volunteer communications consultant, Karen Lamb, our newsletter will now appear on a quarterly basis, with a deliberate focus on fewer news items.
Other initiatives will evolve over several months, like the Second Decade Fund to support leadership projects necessary to remain effective in the Holy Lands. These will include expanding our adult programs into the West Bank (with a focus on woman’s empowerment), deepening our educational programs in Israeli, Hebrew-speaking schools, and developing our modest staff to include representation from the historic Christian community. For more details see the Second Decade Fund article below.
Finally, allow me to introduce the incoming Board Member Imam Bilal Ansari. You can read more about this extraordinary Muslim leader in an interview below. While he is new to the JPB Board, he is not new to JPB. Imam Bilal led Muslim worship for JPB’s first participants at Acer Farm in 2011 and since then he has regularly contributed to JPB programs in New England.
Thank you again for your loyalty and involvement! Your prayers, participation, and partnership power JPB programs.
Peace, Shalom, Salaam,