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VISION, MISSION, STORY

Our Vision

 

Jerusalem Peacebuilders (JPB) vision is a Jerusalem and a world where Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Druze live together as sisters and brothers in dignity, equality, and peace.

Our Mission

 

Jerusalem Peacebuilders (JPB) is an interfaith, non-profit organization with a mission to create a better future for humanity across religions, cultures, and identities. Integral to that mission is the belief that the future of Jerusalem is the future of the world.  To that end, JPB promotes transformational, person-to-person encounters among the peoples of Jerusalem, Israel, Palestine, and the United States.

 

JPB’s interfaith programs focus on uniting Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans and providing them with the opportunities, relationships, and skills they need to become future leaders for peace.  A passion for peace drives our mission and partnerships power our program.

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Our Story

 

JPB had its genesis in 2011, on the tenth anniversary of the terror bombings of September 11, 2001.  Having served at St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem, JPB Founders Rev. Nicholas and Dorothy Porter were convinced that these attacks made the timeless call for peacemaking in the Holy Lands ever more urgent. Rather than duplicate efforts, the Porters approached an international organization with a shared vision, and partnered to provide a specialized leadership camp for American, Israeli and Palestinian youth. They held the first Leadership Institute in Brattleboro, VT in July 2011.

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Following the success of the first program, JPB Co-Founder, Stuart Kensinger, was inspired to create a multi-year peacebuilding and leadership program.  In the fall of 2012, JPB integrated the Houston-based Discovery Institute, with teens entering in ninth grade. Seeing a growing gap in opportunity and impact, in 2016, JPB launched a series of in-school leadership and peacebuilding courses in Jerusalem-area schools. In that same year, JPB extended its reach to work with adult teachers via the EXCEL Institute. In 2017, JPB continued to increase its portfolio of in-school programs in the Holy Lands.  In Houston, JPB developed its domestic presence and programming by connecting with local schools, faith communities and nonprofit organizations. 

 

2018 was a banner year for JPB, successfully inaugurating the fourth summer youth institute and the strategic positioning of both domestic and international staff. In 2019, JPB experienced the sudden and tragic loss of our friends and founding directors, Stuart and Angela Kensinger. While their deaths were a great shock to our community, JPB persevered and held a record five summer institutes, including a re-geared EXCEL Institute in the UK. Meanwhile, our in-school programs continued to expand to over twenty schools across the USA and the Holy Lands. 

 

As a result of the pandemic, the peacebuilding field contracted, but JPB continued steadfastly in its mission, offering online and COVID-safe programming throughout 2020 and 2021.  We were the only educational Holy Lands peacebuilding organization to implement online programs at such a scale. Pandemic travel restrictions forced us to adapt and offer in-person, residential summer institutes in Israel. Against the odds, we reached a hundred teenagers, staff, and their families.

 

In 2022 and 2023, summer institutes triumphantly returned to the US and UK, and in-school courses were offered in over thirty public and private schools. Currently, despite the horrific war that began on October 7, JPB is moving ahead with offering five summer institutes for youth and adults in 2024. 

 

JPB is the only peacebuilding interfaith organization bringing together Israeli, Palestinian, and American youth for educational programming that incorporates specifically-interfaith learning.

We now oversee a robust mulit-year, year-round program cycle of in-school and summer programs in the USA and Holy Lands. Offering summer institutes at successive levels in Texas, Connecticut, and now Geneva, Switzerland, each program runs over the course of two weeks and provides participants with leadership and peacebuilding skills, dialogues, service projects, presentations by guest speakers, and interfaith learning. Participants enjoy frequent field trips and outdoor recreational activities. Delicious home-cooked meals are prepared by a faithful cadre of volunteers. The success of our program relies on the family atmosphere, the carefully selected small group of participants, and the emphasis on religion and faith as a path to reconciliation. In joining JPB, these young people are immersed in a life-changing experience that they will never forget.

Participants in the JPB program are an extraordinary group of dedicated young people. This dedication is evident in their avid desire to acquire the tools that will allow them to shine as leaders in forging a peaceful society in Jerusalem and across the Middle East. Today, we continue to create spaces for Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Druze teens to come together and envision a future of peace. Our participants are as determined as ever to make the prospect of peace a reality and our staff are dedicated to seeing each participant grow into their calling as leaders and peacebuilders.

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Strong leadership is required for the peace of Jerusalem. Our Jewish, 

Christian, Muslim, and Druze participants explore the possibilities for peace and develop themselves as leaders for that peace.

~ The Rev. Canon Nicholas Porter

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