Occupied Territories

Photos: Jahalin Bedouin summer camp!

0 Comments 25 July 2017

Every year, Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) organises or helps organise summer camps for Jahalin Bedouin children living on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The programs give the children a chance to grow, develop, and play in a safe and supervised environment alongside mentors from the Bedouin community as well as international and Israeli volunteers.

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Last week, we finished up two weeks of programming for children at Jabal al Jahalin, near Azaria. The camp was attended by around 100 children, 40 boys and 60 girls, ages 6-14 years old. The camp is run by a local Bedouin woman with a masters degree, who herself attended Rabbis for Human Rights activities as a child, along with a few other Bedouin women as well as Israeli and international volunteers recruited by RHR. This year we were joined by long time RHR volunteer Yael Ben Baruch, a retired teacher and children’s author, Dr Zoe Bray, a Jerusalem based artist and anthropologist, and Natalie Arfi, an artist who also teaches Hebrew in East Jerusalem. We are very thankful for their assistance and support. Unfortunately, current political tensions meant we had to postpone our annual end of camp trip to visit a water park and amusement in Ramallah, but we will arrange that for later in the summer.

This week, summer camp programs were started up in four additional communities. These programs are run in cooperation with Italian nuns of the Comboni order, with whom RHR has worked for many, many years. Programs are being held at:

*Abu Nawahr 1

*Abu Nawahr 2

*El Muntar

*And for the first time, Wadi Katif, just outside of Jericho

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The Jahalin Bedouin experience high levels of poverty and unemployment, and all of these communities live under the threat of demolitions; many of these children have experienced trauma as a result of demolitions or fear of demolitions and/or forced expulsion from their communities. We are very excited to be working with Wadi Katif this year for the first time and to get to know the sweet, enthusiastic, and adorable children there. Like the other communities, Wadi Katif is not recognised by the Israeli Civil Administration and therefore any building there is “illegal” and subject to demolitions. The kindergarten at Wadi Katif has been destroyed twice in recent years.

We are also joined by additional volunteers – German, Israeli and Spanish for these programs including a Jerusalem based psychologist who is also a political activist.

The summer camps include light meals for the children (usually pita and humous)and activities such as arts and crafts, dramatic games, sports, painting, and story-telling. The children are not required to register and are free to come and go as they please (though most stay for the duration of the day, and attend most days).

Brief background: The Jahalin Bedouin live in a number of encampments around the Maale Adumim settlement area outside Jerusalem, on the northern edge of the Judean Desert. They represent one of the most vulnerable groups living in the West Bank, and are plagued by extremely high rates of poverty and unemployment. The Jahalin also suffer under the constant threat of home demolition and forced displacement due to discriminatory building and planning policy as well as on-going pressure to expand nearby settlements. Already displaced from their ancestral lands in Tel Arad, the Jahalin have been forced to mostly abandon their agrarian/herding lifestyle for an urban one.

Rabbis for Human Rights is grateful for the support of our many donors including Children of Peace, Misereor, and hundreds of other individuals who help us continue this programming through generous financial donations, in-kind donations, and their time.

If you are interested in volunteering and getting involved in some other way with RHR’s work with the Jahalin Bedouin children, please contact Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann, director of the program, at [email protected]

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