Mar Elias Students making Music with Jewish Schools
This item is posted 9th March 2016



Peace Drums Dream Coming True!
Steel Band to Tour Mid-Atlantic April 10-20 

Finally — after four years of planning, raising $124,000 from 100-plus donors, purchasing and shipping 34 steel drums and sending Harvey Price to Israel six times to instruct and rehearse the 20 Jewish, Christian and Muslim youth making up the Peace Drums Steel Band — the band is coming to the United States in April!

On Sunday, April 10, these middle-school musicians from the Mar Elias and Leo Baeck Schools, accompanied by 17 teachers, administrators and parents, will touch down at JFK in New York. After arriving at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Wilmington by chartered coach, our guests will be greeted by project volunteers and their host families at a “Welcome!” pot-luck supper Archbishop (Emeritus) Elias Chacour, of the Melkite Catholic Church in the Galilee region and founder of the Mar Elias Schools, will accompany the interfaith steel band that embodies the brotherly and sisterly love he espouses for all Christians, Jews and Muslims.

Monday, April 11, will be spent rehearsing with Harvey at the University of Delaware prior to a kosher dinner at Congregation Beth Shalom. Tuesday begins with a press conference at City Hall in Philadelphia where they will play for Mayor Jim Kenney, followed by more rehearsing and supper at Christiana Mall. Wednesday, April 13, is the BIG DAY –the band’s first concert in America, free and open to the public at 7:30 p.m. at Cab Calloway School for the Arts in Wilmington. Afterwards our guests will mix with major donors to the project at a private reception.

The band then travels to Mt. Kisco, N.Y. on Thursday for a 5 p.m. appearance at Bet Torah Synagogue and an overnight with local host families. After a full day of sightseeing in New York City on Friday, they will return for a restful Saturday either attending Shabbat Service at Beth Shalom or relaxing in Westminster’s Community Hall before shopping at Christiana Mall. That evening features a “Thank You Dinner” for host families and their other Delaware performance at the University’s Perkins Student Center at 8 p.m.

At 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 17 our young guests will join local Jewish, Christian and Muslim middle schoolers for an interfaith youth gathering at Beth Shalom before heading north again for a 4 p.m. concert at the Abington Presbyterian Church in Abington, Pa., and a dinner with donors from the area.

On the 18th, band members and adults alike will take a tour the U.S. Capitol arranged by Sen. Tom Carper, whose wife, Martha, is Peace Drums honorary co-chair, and do some sightseeing in Washington. They will then be Harvey’s guests at an 8 p.m. Percussion Ensemble Concert in the University’s Loudis Recital Hall.

Appropriately the Band’s final concert will be in “the City of Brotherly (and Sisterly) Love,” at 7 p.m. at the Rodeph Shalom Synagogue. The tour concludes with a “Farewell Breakfast” at Westminster on April 20 before our guests are bussed back to JFK and return to Tel Aviv leaving behind happy memories of their harmonious music-making now being heard above the sounds of strife and conflict in Israel/Palestine.

New Peace Drums Video

Premier at June 18 People-to-People Event

While our young Galilean Steel Band members are practicing in Ibillin and Haifa, Dr. Naveed Baquir, an accomplished videographer and new member of the PD Steering Committee, has been producing a new Peace Drums video here in Delaware. It will feature interviews of Harvey Price and our co-chairs, Rabbi Michael and Rev. Greg and clips of our launch events in Delaware and of the Galilean band members learning to play new music on their new steel drums. Attempts are also being made to obtain interviews with our partner contacts in Israel.

The video will be premiered at the People-to-People Annual Meeting at 7 p.m. on June 18 at Westminster Presbyterian Church. The Delaware Chapter of People-to-People International, which seeks “to enhance international understanding and friendship through direct exchange of educational and cultural ideas and experiences among people of difference countries and diverse cultures,” is an organizational sponsor of Peace Drums. The event is free and open to the public and all are invited. In addition to the video the evening will include comments by Co-Chair Greg Jones, an update by Project Director Harvey Price, a Q & A time to ask specific questions about the project and a live demonstration of the steel drums by Harvey and his accomplished musician wife, Linda Henderson. Harvey is also offering a few lucky folks a chance to play a note or two themselves on the drums – provided they are gentle. (Steel drums are as fine-tuned as pianos and can easily go out of tune if not treated and cared for correctly.)

So let’s all demonstrate our shared belief in promoting international understanding and peace through the sharing of music – person to person – at WPC on the 18th!

For more information visit and

Reconciliation in Progress

6th February 2013

Mar Elias Episcopal School, Haifa and Zihron Ya’akov School

In 2011 St Elias Episcopal School Haifa approached a co-existence project called ‘Tami’ with a view to finding a jewish school with which to link. Zihron Ya’akov school responded, and a link was formed.with the aim of developing a better understanding between the Jewish and Arab communities.  The head and two teachers from each school met to create a 5 year linking programme. One of the main aims is to learn about the social aspects of religious life which can be a very positive way to learn about each other and see the similarity between all religions. Staff at both schools see a closer connection and understanding between the two communities as the only way forward to a more peaceful and open Israeli society.

This link was started with seventh grade (13 -14 yrs old) children, old enough to cope with the language differences and social interaction, but no so old as to be too politically polarised  and so guarded in forming relationships, and not pubescent which could lead to complications with the different way romantic relationships are formed in the two cultures.

The third meeting 6th February, 2013

Jewish and Arab Christian teachers greeting each other

Jewish and Arab Christian teachers greeting each other

The St Elias children clambered aboard two minibuses at 8.30am eager for a day out.  A 25km journey south took them to the Jewish town of  Zihron Ya’akov.  Here the children gathered at the gate to wait for the Zihron Ya’akov children to greet them, as they did with much enthusiasm, running around the corner of a building.  The security guard opened the gate and reunions took place with much laughter, hugging and kissing.

Once inside the section of the school to be used, welcome and introductions were made by both staff and students from both schools.  A group of girls from Zihrom Ya’akov performed a dance to some modern beat music.  The latest pop music continued during the following buffet of delicious cakes, popcorn and coke and the children had a great time meeting up with friends made at the last two meetings.  The day was conducted in Hebrew, Arabic and some English with teachers helping where translation was needed.  The Zihron Ya’akov children only speak Hebrew and English, the Haifa children Arabic, Hebrew and English but the standard of comprehension of the non-native languages varies throughout both classes.

A Jewish girl fixing her Arab friend's hair

A Jewish girl fixing her Arab friend’s hair

The first activity of the day was a simple game.  A ribbon was run across the room and the children were asked to step across it if they could answer yes to certain questions eg. who has a pet at home, who has a brother who bothers them, who has been in a car accident.  Some of the children were selected to talk a little about the issues.

For the next activity the children were divided into mixed groups.

A Jewish and two Arab boys producing a play

A Jewish and two Arab boys producing a play

There were three groups who had a story to act out.  Each story was from the religious texts of either Judaism, Christianity or Islam.A considerable amount of co-operation, consultation and understanding through the different languages and cultures was used.

Three other mixed groups were presented with a list of human attributes and had to place them in order of importance.  The final order each group arrived at was not really important.  The discussion that took place to arrive at that order was the value of the exercise.  Attributes such as perseverance, love, loyalty, forgiveness, beliefs, helping others, accepting the other and the good of heart were on the lists.

The lists drawn up in order of importance were read out.  The plays were performed and then it was time for all to walk down to the local synagogue.

A Muslim girl, one of the students from St Elias School, visiting the synagogue

A Muslim girl, one of the students from St Elias School, visiting the synagogue

There a female member of the synagogue gave the children a talk about Judaism and various aspects of the synagogue.  The children had many questions for her afterwards.

Back at the school a lunch of pizza and fizzy drinks proved very popular with everyone and then there was free time for the children to play.  The boys in particular enjoyed displaying their football skills on the covered pitch.

The end of the day seemed to come all too quickly and the Zihron Ya’akov children and teachers came to the gate for departing hugs as the Haifa children boarded their minibuses.  All are looking forward to their next meeting which will be in St Elias School, Haifa.


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