By Hanadi Higris and Rohan Plaot
The idea of initiating a Jewish-Arab Galilean women’s leadership program was not designed on our desk, but was created on the ground. Over the past two years, the Beit Netofa Environmental Association and the Heschel Center for Sustainability have held the Galilee Fellows Program in order to promote leadership for the advancement of sustainability in the Galilee.
During the last cycle, which was comprised of women and men, we suddenly saw what was happening in the midst of a group of women, especially Arab and Jewish women. We saw the media, the points of view, the dynamics and especially the connections—and then we knew that the program was naturally developing in the direction of a women’s leadership program. Last week, the dream began to materialize with the opening ceremony of the program.
During the recruitment process, we turned to women and groups that we believed might include the women we are looking for—those who have already done something with themselves, who understand that “business as usual” is no longer an option, and who are interested in dealing with what is farther away from what they know. We were looking for women who were ready to roll up their sleeves and take part in something bigger than themselves. The response was surprising to an unprecedented extent. We received inquiries from 43 wonderful women—30 Arab and 13 Jewish—from which we chose 18 (11 Arab and 7 Jewish) that we feel are best suited to the intense and profound challenge of the Galilee Fellowship Program and to serve as the basis for creating a vibrant Galilean women’s leadership network with vision, motivation, and a lot of optimism.
The Fellowship will include three overnight seminars, after which the Fellows will be welcomed into the vibrant community of Galilee Fellows alumni. Good luck to the leaders of cohort 3!