Left to right: Chairperson of Rabbis for Human Rights, Rabbi Anita Steiner; Rabbi Nava Hefetz, Director of Education, Rabbis for Human Rights shakes hands with Avigail Horowitz. Next to them, Dr. Tami Razi, head of the multidisciplinary B.A. program at Sapir College; Kher Elbaz, executive director of AJEEC; and project manager Leah Shakdiel.
We are proud to tell you about our impressions from the closing ceremony for the Women Citizens for Equality project at Sapir College.
It All Starts with a Vision Rabbi Nava Hefetz, Director of Education, Rabbis for Human Rights
It all starts with a vision, not with a fantasy or a delusion. It all starts with a vision, with an idea that you think about, write about, read about, and learn about. You survey the field, gather resources, and only then do you set out on the journey to fulfill your vision. The outcome is never guaranteed. Education is a journey of trial, error, and will.
It was three years before I could begin to realize the vision I had, and for three years I’ve been orchestrating the Civil Equality project from behind the scenes. I say behind the scenes because the project was managed by an excellent staff which never gave up, not even when the cause seemed to be lost. We weathered three years of ups and downs, frustrations, and separation anxieties from students who left. However, I believe that the number of students is not our most important parameter. To the ten students who have completed this grueling journey through the depths of Israeli society and the whole world: today each of you carries more than the potential to bring about change in your communities, especially in these hard times as the threat of expulsion hovers over many Bedouin communities.
After you have finished your journey through the depths of Israeli and Palestinian society, after you have dealt with issues of gender, religion, national rights in particular and human rights in general, you have reached the time to celebrate, if only for one night.
I hope that we will continue to work together for a good, just society with solidarity between all its citizens. I hope that we will continue to struggle together for our society and ensure that human rights and equality are upheld for all.
I believe that each one of us can do challenging things, even if we’re starting from scratch. If you really want something, nothing can stop you. My project began as a small group, but now we have meetings every Saturday in the village. My happiness is the children’s happiness. Thank you to everyone who supported me. (Amira Abu Rabia, 2013)
My name is Sabrin Abu Galyan, the youngest activist in the group. When we started the program I was eighteen. It wasn’t easy for me to sit with a group of girls who were older than me and had more knowledge and experience than I did. At first, I preferred just to listen to them, but eventually I realized that I too had something to say and I started to express my opinions. The Women Citizens for Equality project and my project, eco-friendly Tel Sheva helped me personally and socially, and my strengths emerged through my participation in this wonderful project. (Sabrin Abu Galyan, 2013)
I think that a woman has the ability to achieve any goal she wants. In other words, women are very strong. I can give you examples of my friends who managed to succeed in their studies even though their families didn’t support them. That’s a woman’s will. In the past few years, I have received support, I’ve gained self-confidence, and I’ve made new friends. (Yasmin Abu Galyan, 2013)
Identity is not a simple thing…
Woman/Jewish/Israeli, or maybe Moroccan or Bulgarian…
And civil equality…
Another thought for which the answer isn’t…
I think that what’s simpler than it seems is:
Activism! And to think beforehand,
To think while acting, to think afterward and to draw conclusions,
To create a meaningful reality in which we grow and change!
(Limor Deklo, 2013)
I believe that every woman has her inner strength and we need to bring those inner strengths together. I believe that the women of the world will unite to shred oppression and injustice. I came to Civil Equality because I wanted to meet more women’s inner strengths. (Kifah Shalalfeh, 2013)
We have no other place to live, so we need to change in order to live in the space we have left.
I believe that one woman can change reality. (Sahar Abu Amara, 2013)
I am Avigail Horowitz, a feminist, and a believer in equality and respect. I am finishing my degree, and this is an enormous accomplishment for me. I’m going to be a social worker because I chose to serve society throughout my career.
I met true friends through the project. They helped me to expand my worldview and to understand right and wrong in this place, the Negev. I am a resident of the Negev. I have influence here and I will continue to act here. I am a graduate of the Women Citizens for Equality project. (Avigail Horowitz, 2013)
I believe that in every situation, in order to reach a positive outcome you need full cooperation and good will; and whatever you take, you must give back with a full heart. (Abir Abu Farhan, 2013)
Although I live in a place where women are restricted by our leaders and by tradition, and though women are not allowed to express our opinions, the Women Citizens for Equality project taught me how to speak out loud and express my opinion, how to go out and demonstrate for my rights and those of every woman, and how to become better upholders of our tradition so that we can play a role in society. I believe that one woman can change reality! (Hanin Abu Bader, 2013)