How Kids4Peace began in Jerusalem
We began as a response to violence in Palestine/Israel. In 2001, the optimism of the Oslo accords had faded. Fighting and bombings ravaged the holy city of Jerusalem, and Israelis and Palestinians were turning against one another. Amid this climate of hatred and fear, a group of Jerusalem parents – Jewish, Christian and Muslim – came together to create a new reality.
These parents were people of deep faith, who all had kids in sixth grade. They believed that a better future was possible for their children, and for the city they called home. There were other youth peace programs at the time – but none for kids their age, and very few for religious families like themselves. They wanted a place to be both religious, and pro-peace.
The Anglican church became the home for this new initiative, with the embrace of the Most Rev. Suheil Dawani, then the local congregation pastor and now Archbishop in Jerusalem. Dr. Henry Ralph Carse, a gifted theologian, teacher and pilgrim guide, was the Founding Director, with institutional support from St. George’s College, where he worked, and its dean the Very Rev. Ross Jones.
With financial backing from Episcopalians in the United States, a group of twelve Jerusalem youth – Jewish, Christian and Muslim; Israeli and Palestinian – flew to Camp Allen outside Houston, Texas, in the summer of 2002 for a two-week summer camp. Kids4Peace was born.
As we mark our twentieth year in 2021, Kids4Peace now has over 120 active youth across Grades 6-10 coming to bi-weekly programs, seminars, festival celebrations, community events and summer camps.