Jerusalem – The Max Rayne Hand in Hand School, a unique educational institution in Jerusalem, has received international recognition for its outstanding efforts in “overcoming adversity.” Established in 1998, this school is Israel’s only bilingual and fully integrated Jewish-Arab institution, serving over 600 students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
Under the leadership of co-teaching teams comprised of both Jewish and Arab teachers, with an Arab elementary school principal and a Jewish secondary school principal, this school stands as a beacon of hope in a deeply divided society. Amid ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, the school’s commitment to unity and cooperation remains unwavering.
The prestigious award, presented by the UK-based T4 Education, was announced during a turbulent period, emphasizing the school’s determination to bridge divides. Dani Elazar, the chief executive of Hand in Hand, expressed, “We resolve to continue overcoming adversity, day by day, for the sake of a better future for all, Jews and Arabs alike. Overcoming adversity is precisely what the Max Rayne Hand in Hand school is doing at this very moment.”
In a region where 99% of Jewish and Arab children study in separate schools, this institution takes an immersive, integrated approach, nurturing cross-cultural understanding. Students learn not only each other’s languages but also explore history through dual narratives, respecting the Israeli Jewish story and the Palestinian Arab story. They also gain insights into one another’s traditions and holidays, fostering a sense of unity and respect.
While facing opposition and challenges, the school has grown steadily since its establishment. In 2014, it endured an arson attack by extremists, but its commitment to education and unity remained steadfast.
Gal, one of the students, shared, “I think that one of the things that brought me to study here is wanting to get to know the narrative that is different from my own. What does the other side, the opposite of me, think and feel about what it sees? I knew I could find it here.”
The Max Rayne Hand in Hand School’s remarkable achievements are a testament to the power of education in overcoming adversity and fostering a better future for all. It stands as a symbol of hope, unity, and a shared commitment to a brighter tomorrow.
In addition to the Max Rayne Hand in Hand School, four other “world’s best school” prizes were awarded, recognizing educational institutions that have made significant contributions in environmental action, community collaboration, innovation, and supporting healthy lives. Cadoxton Primary School in Barry, Wales, was also recognized as a finalist in the “overcoming adversity” category.
The prize money, totaling $250,000, will be shared among the five winning schools, further supporting their important work in the field of education.