Help support the continuation and expansion of the HAMSA interfaith program!
HAMSA (Heroes Are Made through Service and Action) is a partnership of the Suffolk Y JCC, the French Hill Matnas in Jerusalem, Beit Safafa Community Center in Jerusalem and the Islamic Center of Long Island. HAMSA is a program that brings Jewish and Muslim college age students from America and Israel, together in the spirit of goodwill to participate in a series of intensive workshops,completion of a community service project,and seminars in action planning. The main goal of the HAMSA project is to empower young people to promote change in the world through grassroots community service and learning and to cultivate world citizens who are concerned for the welfare of others despite perceived differences. HAMSA fosters an atmosphere of humanity, where the participants can look past labels and see themselves in others.
Student participant comments:
“I was humbled by a newfound sense of speechlessness, and came to terms with the fact that, sometimes, it is absolutely crucial to listen to others speak without dwelling on what there is to say in response. Our experience was enlightening, intellectually challenging, and profoundly emotional.” (Jewish American Student)
”To be honest, it's quite hard to sum up such an extraordinary experience in a few sentences. I still don't think I've managed to process everything that has happened in the past week, I'm still working on that. If I were to try though, I have to say that it has been a life changing experience in the means that it has changed my way of thought completely. All my values and beliefs in life were challenged and I had to defend them while listening to stories, values and beliefs I've never come up close to before. I'm happy to say that my values and beliefs in the goodness of mankind are stronger than ever, though they've been altered a bit and are not as "black and white" as before. We still have quite a way to go, but at least we're on the way. I truly believe that if everyone has had such an important experience as I've had then we can make a difference. I believe this project brings peace.”
(Israeli Jewish Participant)
“I learned this from each of you: to listen, to smile, to love and will take that with me.. When I meet you, i want to forget your religion, your roots and just want to know you. I owe some of you an apology (for making assumptions) that maybe you might be cruel or bad but I learned that you are very good people. I participated in many Arab/Jewish workshops but this was special because the Americans were in it. So happy that American Muslims and Jews care…”
(Muslim Israeli Student)
“Hamsa was an unforgettable experience. I never imagined that such insight, and sheer power could come from 20 college students sitting and discussing what is probably the most contested political conflict of our time. What’s more- every person in the group had a connection, and therefore an incredibly vested interest in what we were discussing. This was not a group of a bunch of left-wing liberal tree huggers either. The stories brought forth were both raw and real. We knew we weren’t going to solve the Israeli- Palestinian conflict overnight, or even at all throughout the course of the program, but I think that this gave us an even greater goal for the future. I saw such incredible potential for real leadership from each of my fellow participants. Ideally, all college-aged students should participate in a program like this- especially if they are planning to be leaders in their communities later in life. If every potential Israeli, Palestinian, Jewish or Muslim community or political leader went though the Hamsa experience, I doubt the conflict we are presently in would persist to the same extent that it does today. Through Hamsa, the participants found respect, empathy, understanding and also friendship in their supposed “other,” which is an integral part, in my opinion, of creating a better world.”
(Jewish American Student)
“…in how Americans live, I saw it's possible for us and Jews to live together. I learned from each and every one of you.” (Muslim Israeli Student)
“I came with a bit of a cynical attitude- not sure what to expect- was amazed to know how quickly, in just one week, we got to know each other.”
(American Muslim Student)
"…it was very touching, gave me hope. Very powerful when one speaks up for another.” (American Muslim Student)