- Avital Maeir-Epstein, 16 and Israeli
- Muhammad Murtada Shweiki, 15 and Palestinian
- Jerusalem International YMCA in West Jerusalem
- Singing together, in a choir
This past summer, the New York Times featured these two teens in an article about unity in a time of escalating violence. Through all this violence, one of the few places to remain safe and, in fact, designed to facilitate mutual understanding and empathy, was their choir meeting space.
What Maier-Epstein and Shweiki did there was much more than sing. Along with other students and organizers, they contributed to dialogue sessions designed to allow conversation about differences, instead of just glossing them over or placating them with standard prepared remarks.
25-year-old American Micah Hendler founded the youth chorus, and has been instrumental in its success. When we think about how an American from thousands of miles away – and even more importantly, worlds away from these kids’ upbringings and day-to-day lives – contributed to a new era of cooperation between these teens, it’s understandable to be awed. It may be a small feat in the scope of the Israel-Palestine conflict, but in the lives of these young people, it is so much more.
Like our mission at GLA, which is to inspire the next generation of teens to change the world and their role in it, being the change isn’t just about big victories, but small ones. And when fomenting change, the small ones matter most.