You Raise Me Up

This spring, Community Day School welcomed Mamoun Assady back to Pittsburgh for a second visit. Mr. Assady is a 72-year-old retired teacher and Arab citizen of Israel who was born and still lives in a village called Deir Al Assad (meaning “Monastery of the Lion” in Arabic), which is in the Galilee near Pittsburgh’s sister communities in Karmiel/Misgav.

Dedicated to inspiring positive relations between the Arab and Jewish communities in Israel and abroad, Mr. Assady offers a rare, cross-cultural point of view that is informed by his position within both communities. His mission is simple, but lofty: to share his personal story and to build bridges leading to our two cultures growing their understanding of each other. “I am sure that peace will succeed one day,” he says.

Today, on the first day of Ramadan, the CDS Class of 2016 took another small, but meaningful step in that direction by visiting a middle school in Deir Al Assad. Before we share more, we need to give a huge Kol HaKavod to our bus driver, Roman, for fearlessly navigating the tight, narrow turns of the village without a roadmap!

The school’s principal (who visited CDS two years ago) welcomed us warmly and said our deepening relationship made him more hopeful for a peaceful future. The students from Deir Al Assad then performed two short plays they worked on with their English teacher and beautifully sang a song for us in English (Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up).

Then our students sang verses from the Shehechiyanu to the tune of Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars, which they performed at their 8th Grade graduation.

Afterward, everyone abandoned English and Arabic altogether and began speaking the universal language of the iPhone, exchanging social media contacts and taking selfies with promises to stay in touch.

From Deir Al Assad, it was on to Tel Aviv to the famous Shuk Ha’Carmel and the Nahalat Binyamin Arts & Crafts Fair, where a certain blogger may or may not have been too busy shopping and eating falafel to take any photos, except for during a fabulous encounter with CDS alum Noa Weil (Class of 2010), who is now serving in the IDF. For your listening enjoyment while you read the rest of this post, the song of the day on our bus ride from Tverya to Tel Aviv, was, of course, Tel Aviv by Omer Adam featuring Arisa …

So far on this trip, we’ve been in water tunnels, water hikes, waterfalls, swimming pools, rivers, the Dead Sea, and the Kinneret…and at last we made it to the Mediterranean for an afternoon of fun in the sand and the sea. Tomorrow night we are Pittsburgh bound!



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