Mahapach-Taghir and the Importance of Learning Communities

Mahapach-Taghir (which means change) is a grassroots Jewish-Arab organization for social change, which was founded in 1998. Our overall goal is to promote a shared society in Israel with equal opportunities for all, by: (a) Building leadership in Arab and Jewish communities in the periphery through empowerment and formal/informal education; (b) Promoting solidarity between social groups, as well as equality and (c) Facilitating participatory democracy, civil leadership and a more effective local governance. Our organization has been working with Arab and Jewish communities for over 20 years. We have gained extensive experience in becoming part of the local communities, listening to their needs, building leadership and an Arab-Jewish partnership based on political values of democracy, equality and human rights. 

The Covid19 crisis had a profound impact within our organization, our member communities and the many projects we offer. 

The marginalized communities where we work face some of the greatest barriers to quality education and jobs due to discriminatory policies. They are systematically excluded from decision-making processes at community, municipal and national levels. The main challenges we faced during the global pandemic were neglect of the social and geographical periphery that has only been made worse during the pandemic — thus gaps in education, infrastructure, services, security in public spaces and more have increased this past year and gender inequality—and specifically, an increase of incidents of violence against women—particularly in the Arab society.

Throughout the pandemic, MT has shifted into emergency and support mode, mediating between municipalities and residents; helping our members access deserved benefits during the economic fallout of the crisis; mobilizing our communities to address unmet needs; and even delivering necessity goods whenever possible—services that were especially crucial for disadvantaged communities during this time. The year 2020 was a period of great strengthening for our organization. It allowed us to understand the meaningful impact of our activities in the different communities, which led to a deepening of our activities. The crisis brought to light the tremendous needs of vulnerable populations – economic, gender based, educational – and MT’s ability to provide effective solutions, tailored to each community and at the national level. 

The “Learning Communities” – At the heart of the work of MT are the Learning Communities, which are an intergenerational and comprehensive initiative. The Learning Community is a holistic and inclusive empowerment and educational model. It strives to provide equal educational opportunities to children and youth in disempowered marginalized neighborhoods, while encouraging the civic participation of local residents, parents, and university/college students. The Learning Communities facilitate the active engagement of residents in marginalized communities, particularly women, and encourage them to organize themselves and generate solutions to common problems. In parallel, university students provide children and youth with pedagogical and social tutoring. Our informal education model fosters a strong democratic civil society through dialogue and solidarity among marginalized communities.

Since 1998, we have engaged some 3,000 college student volunteers, 500 women and 6,000 children. Currently we work in eight Arab and Jewish Learning Communities in Israel that we established in: Yad Eliyahu (Tel Aviv), Acre, Maghar, Yafia, Nof Hagalil, Tamra, Talpiot (Jerusalem) and Baqa al-Gharbiyye.

 

To learn more about Mahapach-Taghir and their work check out their website here.