An Update from Givat Haviva International School (GHIS)

By Diane Blau

GHIS is open and operating. All academics have been functioning since Monday October 9th.

Most of the students are on campus .Some internationals were evacuated and are fully with us on Zoom. They are eager to come back and they love GHIS. We have spent weekends picking tomatoes on evacuated farms close to Gaza and delivering food to Holocaust survivors in Ashkelon, too frightened of rockets to leave their homes. We also find sanity in our work at GHIS with our inspiring students, who continually remind us that when people who truly believe in diversity and respect come together, there is hope for a peaceful future–even when it’s so hard to imagine. We turn to you, our friends, to continue to help us now:

·  to replace lost pledges;
·  to provide additional emotional support to our students and staff.

Five years ago, we started because we saw a need to bring together polarized communities through their young people. We developed a curriculum to help them become leaders who connect and inspire people to meet in compassion, and not live in hate.

On October 7, the war in Israel began with the horrific attack of terrorist extremists. Unfortunately, another kind of war has started with antisemitism so visible on campuses and in the streets of the world, fueled by social media.

If ever there was a time to commit to our mission here at GHIS–that time is now. As our students delete their social media accounts to not be affected by the toxicity found there, and non-Jewish international alumni vocally confront antisemitism and the skewed picture of Israel on their college campuses, we know that GHIS offers a light to a different future.

On our campus, we have seen our brave Israeli Jewish and Arab students continuing to see each other as friends and partners, in spite of those who try to divide them. We know that the pull is strong to return to the easy narrative of seeing each other as different, the “other,” but the friendships that they created at GHIS strengthen and encourage them, preventing them from retreating.

We must give them all the tools they need to remain steadfast in the mission and stay at GHIS, enabling them to positively impact their home communities.

GHIS students and alumni have always gone against the tide by believing that the path forward is together. We give them the intellectual and emotional tools to work towards peace. We must continue to support them. Our diverse staff, too, who are going through so much at this time, come to work because of their absolute dedication to the mission.

Thank you for your faith in the young people of GHIS and the promise they hold to be compassionate, skillful leaders in Israel and beyond.