This was the second year that JACC has taken part in the events organized by the Jerusalem Intercultural Center in honor of Jerusalem Day, with the aim of exploring the city through the eyes of Jerusalem’s African refugees and asylum seekers.
According to Or, one of the organizers of JACC's special tour,
"Our aim here was to encourage discussion between different populations that live in Israel, and foster tolerance. This fits with our organization's mission, which is to facilitate dialogue and neighborly relations between residents of the city. This is why we wanted to take part in this special Jerusalem Day event"
Approximately 30 curious Israelis came to hear the tour guides, who are members of the community, talk about how it feels to be an asylum seeker in Jerusalem.
The first stop was JACC, our community center, which was established by Israelis and African asylum seekers who reside in Jerusalem.
Omar, a board member, told us about his involvement in the NGO and shared the story of his arrival from Darfur.
Our next stop was a short tour at the Ethiopian church. We were lucky enough to witness a special ceremony for "Ha'Aliah" holiday that included chanting, prayers and incense.
From there, we went to the "Ya'kov Ha'Tsadik" church, were father David Neuhaus hosted us and told us about the church’s close relationship with the community of asylum seekers in Jerusalem and the assistance the church provides, such as kindergartens for the community’s children and space for community members to hold religious services.
Sami, a community member and a volunteer at the center, told us about the life he built in Israel after his arrival at a young age.
We finished our tour at “Adisaba,” an Ethiopian restaurant, where we chatted and ate together.
"I was really happy that we all went to eat together once the tour was over," Omar says, "it was important to me to have people sit together, ask questions and discuss things. I felt that people connected. Many people came to me, asked me questions and were even interested in volunteering at JACC."
Thank you for joining us to this year's tour, and see you again next year!