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There will be a lot of good will in Bethlehem this Christmas, as a diverse group of performers from the United States and Israel stage a holiday concert on behalf of the Hope Flowers School for Peace and Democracy in Bethlehem, the only Palestinian secondary school that teaches Hebrew as part of its mandatory curriculum. On December 22, 1998, two holiday concerts will be held simultaneously in Israel to spread messages of brotherhood and peace.

Featuring American jazz greats Arnie Lawrence and James Moody as well as other jazz and ethnic musicians. A concert will be held 18:00-23:00 at the YMCA auditorium in West Jerusalem and at the Beit Hageffen Theater in Haifa hosted by Shai Cohen, Bassam Rinawi, Yoni Halevi and Friends. There will be a suggested admission price of NIS 50 at the door. All profits will go directly to funding the Hope Flowers School's educational expenses.

Contact information in Israel:

For Further Information Contact: Serena at 050-963-787 or 02-587-6125

For Content Information: Arnie Lawrence at 052-874-235 or 02-563-9710 OR Gene Sandretto, The Hope Flowers School, at 02-274-0693;
Fax, 02-274-7084; e-mail,

The Bethlehem-based Hope Flowers Secondary School, now in its 15th year of operation, is the only Palestinian school offering its students a curriculum that emphasizes the need for understanding and peace between Arab and Jew. The school is the brainchild of Hussein Ibrahim Issa, a Muslim who grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp and learned first hand the importance and need for understanding among people.

Dedicated to spreading the word to future generations, he established the Hope Flowers School, where Palestinian children would benefit from an all-round basic education as well as a unique chance to learn more about their Jewish neighbors. In its commitment to principles of democracy and co-existence, the curriculum includes mandatory teaching of Hebrew and interactive studies and special programs with Israeli students in Jerusalem. From one rented room with 22 pupils in 1984, the school has grown into its present quarters in the village of al-Khader. Today it serves grades K-12 and has more than 100 enrolled students. In expanding the premises, however, the school has fallen into hard times and relies on the good will of a group of volunteers from Israel and abroad to stay open.

The idea for a holiday concert is the result of a happy confluence of events. California-native Gene Sandretto, a social worker specializing in non-violent communication, mediation, and conflict resolution, went to visit the school one day and stayed, taking on the role of volunteer Development and Public Relations Administrator. Sandretto applied to The Steven H. and Alida Brill Scheuer Family Foundation for a grant to support the school, and the foundation responded by sending consultant Lilly Rivlin, a 7th generation Jerusalemite, living in New York to visit the school. Rivlin was so impressed with what she saw at the school that she turned on an impulse to her jazz musician friend Arnie Lawrence, a recent immigrant to Israel and founder of the International Center for Creative Music, Jerusalem. She asked, "Hey, can you do a benefit for the school?" And just as spontaneously, Lawrence got on his mobile phone and began calling a network of musicians, many of whom have said "count me in." "It was amazing," says Rivlin, "in 24 hours Arnie had it all lined up. Where there is a will there is a way."

Arnie Lawrence does not sit still. He is either conducting classes at the International Center for Creative Music, Jerusalem, or playing in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, or Ramallah. For Arnie Lawrence there are no boundaries, hence there are no barriers between people. This was a natural for him. He had already arranged to bring his good friend jazz great James Moody, a Bahaist, for a series of concerts in Haifa, a well known Bahai center, and other places. What a perfect confluence of events, now Moody will be playing in a concert to benefit a Palestinian Muslim school with his pal Arnie, a Jew, and many other sympathizing musical artists, to take place in the spirit of a Christmas theme, Peace on Earth, goodwill towards men. To paraphrase Margaret Mead, a small group of people can change the world.


If you live in the U.S. and want to help Hope Flowers, contact Cousins Club

01/02/99 0:06:26 GMT

©Copyright 1999, Ariga

Circulated by the PEACE Mid-East Dialog Group

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