Arab Teacher Integration Conference – December 2022

After 16 years of systematic hard work in the Arab Teacher Integration Program, which literally started like a straw trying to enter a hard rock, and required a lot of creativity and faith along the way, in the last two year, we are happy to the fruits of our labor realized. The ATI program has truly established itself and is growing, with the number of teachers integrated growing exponentially each year, the integration model perfected, and the basket of support that the teachers receive has been accurately developed. Additionally, the program has received additional support and trust from governmental bodies and new partners.

All of these successes, we, at Merchavim, decided to celebrate with our partners on this journey – firstly, with our teachers that deal with challenges in integrating into the Jewish school system, and our funding partners, without whom none of this could have become a reality

We were excited even before the start of the conference as we saw the number of people registered – more than 200! And a majority of the participants were teachers from the ATI program over the years.

The conference began, even before the lecturers and opening greetings, with a performance from the group “Let’s Talk Dugri” – Oriah Rozenman and Samach Zekut. The performance was thought-provoking and entered the hearts of everyone in the audience while bringing up existing perceptions of each other. We won’t spoil it for you, but it’s about two men who grew up in Israel with an interesting story behind their collaboration.

Important partners to our program honored us with their presence: Dr. Tarik Morad from the Ministry of Education, that has accompanied the program from its start; Eli Buch, Director of Philanthropy at the Edmund de Rothschild Foundation, Ahmad Mouasi, Director of the Arab Society Programs at the Edmund de Rothschild Foundation, Omer Benzioni, Cultural Program Specialist at the US Embassy in Israel, Dr. Asmahan Masri Harzallah, Director of Informal Education at the Al-Qasmi College, and members of Merchavim’s Board of Directors – Mike Prashker and Moshe Shemesh. 

Dr. Nasrin Hadad Haj Yihieh, Partner at NAS Consulting, who started her journey as an Arabic teacher at a Jewish school, lecturer on the subject of barriers and challenges in the labor market, Dr. Wurud Juyusi, Director of the Arab Academic Institute for Education at Beit Berl and member of the Merchavim Board of Directors, lectured about motivations and challenges in integration Arab-Israeli teachers in Jewish schools. Both of these scientific academic lectures were based on data that shed light on topics that concerned all participants at the conference.

Leading up to the conference, many of the teachers wrote to Merchavim’s ATI staff how important it was to have a community of teachers and how it gives them inspiration, hope, light and a source for collaborations. Thus, the second half of the conference focused on roundtable discussions with the participants. Each group was given questions to discuss that engages staff at Merchavim, with the aim of receiving ideas and insights from those in the field and learn from teachers’ experiences in order to continue to improve the program.

We left that day with big smiles on our faces thanks to the end of the conference with a stand-up act from Nadal Badarna.