NEW YORK (Sep. 13)
After more than two years of preparations, 12 young American Jewish men and women will leave for Israel next month to begin their two-and-a-half year internship of living and working in Arab villages and Jewish communities in the Haifa district. The program, called Interns for Peace, was conceived by a group of Israeli Arabs and Jews who have been active in the field of Arab-Jewish relations in Israel.
The 12 members of the group, who are mostly in their early twenties, met yesterday in New York to discuss and arrange the last details of their mission. According to Rabbi Bruce Cohen, the director of the program, the project will start next month with a six-month training period on Kibbutz Barkai. "During their two-year internship, the interns will live in rural Israeli Arab villages, and later on in Jewish communities," Cohen said. The interns, Cohen added, will initiate or strengthen programs in pre-natal care, pre-school child care, child development, adolescent recreation, pre-college preparation, geriatrics care and community development.
The program is aimed at achieving further cooperation and understanding between the Jewish and Arab communities of Israel, to advance the chances of peace in the Mideast, Cohen said.
According to Cohen, the program is "an independent human relations program" and is not affiliated with any political party and platform. The program, however, received assistance in Israel from Mapam’s Kibbutz Artzi and its Arab-Jewish Center of Givat Haviva, and the Menashe Regional College in conjunction with Haifa University.
CLAIMS MANY SUPPORT PROGRAM
Cohen said that outside of Israel the Interns for Peace program has received endorsement and support from many groups and individuals, including the Central Conference of American Rabbis, National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, Jewish Peace Fellowship, Philip M. Klutznick, president of the World Jewish Congress, and Prof. Allen Pollack, member of the World Zionist Organization Executive.
Among those listed on the program’s North American Advisory Committee, for identification purposes only, are: Muriel Bermar, director of social action, United Synagogue of America; Rabbi Balfour Brickner, executive director, New York Federation of Reform Synagogues; Victor Carter, Los Angeles; Arnold Forster, general counsel, Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith; Jacqueline Levine, West Orange, N.J.; Rabbi Stanley Ravinowitz, immediate past president, Rabbinical Assembly; and Albert Vorspan, executive vice-president, Union of American Hebrew Congregations.