This week’s blog is written by PP-ME Project Manager, Githa Cohen-Markens, introducing two new Jewish communities who have joined the PPBC this season – Welcome!
This season we began working with 3rd and 4th graders from two new Jewish communities in the North: one from Kibbutz Barkai and the other from Pardes Hana. Boys from the Arab village of Meiser are now twinning with the boys from Kibbutz Barkai, and the Meiser girls are twinned with the girls from Pardes Hana. A new coach has also joined us in Meiser – welcome coach Muhammad! The great thing about partnering these communities is that they are so close to one another; in fact, Meiser and Barkai are part of the same Regional Council. Whereas before the kids from Meiser had to travel 45 minutes to meet their twinning partners in Kfar Sabba, now they are playing basketball with their actual neighbors.
The first boy’s twinning of the season was a huge success. I have actually never been at a first twinning that went so smoothly and with so much positive energy; the 24 boys literally hit it off right from the start. We had our fifth twinning last week, and the boys are still having a lot of fun and getting to know each another better.
It took us a bit longer to find a twinning partner in the neighborhood for the Meiser girls, who were getting impatient watching the boys have so much fun, but we eventually partnered with the Community Center in Pardes Hana. At the first twinning, Courtney, our American fellow in the North, and I were in for a bit of a shock: we were surrounded by over 40 girls! It took a while, but by the end of the twinning the girls from Meiser and Pardes Hana were having so much fun that they didn’t want to leave the court and make way for the next team’s practice. At the end of the game their parents came up to us to express their appreciation. So far, we have had three twinnings and they were all great. These girls are loud and energetic, and by the end of each twinning Courtney and I have no voice left, but we are very content.
Quotes from our coaches:
“The Pardes Hana girls enjoy the twinnings very much. The activities are diverse, challenging and bring kids together. It is a good break for the girls from their usual practices. They can’t wait for the next twinning!” Coach Osnat (Pardes Hana)
“I am so grateful to be part of PeacePlayers, I feel like I have grown so much as a coach.” Coach Muhammad (Meiser)
“It is no nice to see the boys from Barkai connecting with the boys from Meiser. After only a few twinnings the boys already knew each other’s names.” Coach Zohar (Barkai)
In addition to the twinning program we have also started integrating a few of our veteran players from Meiser into the League teams of the Menashe area. Two boys and three girls have joined the Menashe League teams which up to now have consisted solely of Jewish players. The integration has gone very smoothly, and these incredible kids have helped us with the twinnings and serve as role models for the 3rd and 4th graders.
“Playing in the league is a lot of fun and I have made many more friends.” Iwan, who joined the League’s boy team
“It is great to be part of a team. The Jewish girls have become my friends, I know they care for me.” Nabaa, who joined the League’s girls team
We are very happy with the development of this are this season and are expecting even greater things next season!