From Darkness to Light- at the White House

From Darkness To Light At The White House
November 29, 2014, the day when the first grade classrooms at the Max Rayne Hand in Hand School in Jerusalem were set ablaze, was certainly a dark day. The school had experienced anti-Arab graffiti before, but the arson attack, which severely damaged one of the two classrooms, had taken hate crimes to a new level.


From this darkness, came the light of the response, and overwhelming show of support from throughout Israel and around the world.  Rallies and marches of thousands of schoolchildren, their parents and the general public, all reinforcing the school’s message that “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.” President of Israel Rueven (Ruby) Rivlin even invited the first grade classes to use the President’s residence, while their classes were being repaired and until alternative space was ready at the school.


The culmination of the support came from US President Barak Obama himself, who together with the First Lady invited two Hand in Hand students, Mouran Ibrahim and Inbar Shaked-Vardi, to light Hanukkah candles at the White House in Washington, DC. The ceremony took place on December 17. The students used a colorful Hanukkah menorah made by children from the Hand in Hand school in Jerusalem, decorated with the words, ‘Friendship,’ ‘Equality,’ ‘Education,’ and ‘Respect for Human Beings’ written in both Hebrew and Arabic. At the ceremony, President Obama said, "Inbar and Mouran and their fellow students teach us a critical lesson for this time in our history: The light of hope must outlast the fires of hate. That’s what the Hanukkah story teaches us. That’s what our young people can teach us -- that one act of faith can make a miracle. That love is stronger than hate. That peace can triumph over conflict. And during this Festival of Lights, let’s commit ourselves to making some small miracles ourselves and then sharing them with the world."

The Max Rayne Hand in Hand School is one of the Jerusalem Foundation's flagship projects. The Foundation has been supporting the school since its inception and constructed the new campus in 2007.

Click here to watch the students light Hanukkah candles together with President Barack Obama.