Solidarity of Nations – Achvat Amim: Building Educational and Volunteer Frameworks for Young Adults
By Elly Oltersdorf
Solidarity of Nations-Achvat Amim is a movement-building platform that provides frameworks and programs for young adults to engage in meaningful partnerships with Palestinians and Israelis in the movement for self-determination for all. Achvat Amim engages with community justice struggles at the intersections of Jewishness, feminism, and racial justice.
The Achvat Amim movement was founded in 2013 by Karen Isaacs and Daniel Roth, two educators, group facilitators, and community organizers who helped coordinate the movement, Hashomer Hatzair – North America, helped found the critical education language cooperative, This is Not an Ulpan/MushFussha, and have facilitated grassroots work with Israelis and Palestinians in and around Jerusalem for decades.
We at Achvat Amim believe that we are in a critical historical moment, and that what happens in Israel and Palestine with respect to the dignity and relationships between peoples is an essential challenge if we wish to honor our traditions of tzedek (justice), shalom (peace), tikkun olam (repairing the world), and achvat amim (solidarity of nations).
Achvat Amim runs three in-depth experiential learning programs in which we have engaged hundreds of participants since 2013.
1. The 5-Month Immersive in the Fall
- Runs from September to February
- Fully immersive program with communal living and language programming (Hebrew or Arabic) in Jerusalem
- Includes volunteer placement 3 days a week, 1 Achvat learning day, 1 Jewish learning day, and language lessons
The first of our programs is the 5-Month Immersive, a learning program in which participants from throughout the globe come to live communally in the heart of Jerusalem. There, they build and take part in a critical and democratic learning process, volunteer with prominent human rights organizations, learn Hebrew and Arabic, and engage in justice work through a Jewish lens.
Achvat Amim has built deep and longstanding relationships with a wide variety of community centers, human rights NGOs, and on-the-ground solidarity movements. Through these connections, participants are able to volunteer in individualized placements alongside Palestinians and Israelis, while also getting the opportunity to travel extensively, and learn directly with leaders in the field. There are dozens of placements to choose from, including organizations like Tent of Nations, a Palestinian-owned organic farm near Bethlehem which spearheads work in environmental justice and coexistence projects. Or like Rabbis for Human Rights, an Israeli organization, active both within Israel and the Occupied Territories to promote social and economic justice through on-the-ground solidarity work, education, and interreligious dialogue. Whether a participant is interested in journalism, food justice, research, or work in the field, we have opportunities for them that provide mutual benefit to the volunteer and the organization they serve.
2. The Learning Group in the Fall
- Runs from October to February
- Joins the participants of the 5-Month Immersive program for Sunday Learning Days during the 5-Month Immersive in the Fall
- Also joins the weekend trips to the North and South with the cohort
The second program is the Learning Group, which allows people living in the region to join in with participants from the 5-Month Immersive on learning days and trips. This program is enriching both for people already living and working in the region who are interested in our educational process, as well as for the participants in the 5-Month Immersive, who are able to connect and network with Learning Group participants and expand their network.
3. The Justice Fellowship in the Spring:
- Runs from January to May
- Designed for people already living in the region (i.e., not an immersive living program)
- One learning day a week, combined with several opportunities for volunteer work in the field
Finally, the Justice Fellowship is a weekly program dedicated to young people who are already living in the region. Like participants in the 5-Month Immersive programming, the Justice Fellows participate in a weekly learning program to explore history, identity, politics, economics, spirituality, and the interconnections between them. Also like the 5-Month Immersive, in addition to weekly learning days, fellows participate in sustained volunteer and solidarity work with our Palestinian and Israeli partners.
Together, these programs build a dynamic learning community in which we explore and shape Jewish culture, identity, and activism as individuals and as part of a greater whole. Achvat Amim focuses on developing practical skills in community building, organizing, and education through immersive volunteer projects and engaging with social change and human rights movements. We interact with the challenging realities on the ground in Israel-Palestine and take an active role in building on our rich history and traditions.
As one participant, Sara, from the 2014 cohort said: “In my opinion there is no other program that offers such a holistic first-hand experience of the history, cultures, and politics involved in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Achvat Amim has a large network of passionate people and has built a solid learning environment. It is a nourishing and creative project.”
We are committed to deepening Jewish participation in larger movements for peace, justice, and equality in this region and around the world. We engage people in meaningful processes of self-examination, empowerment, and relationship building, and create spaces for communities to develop shared goals and strategies for positive social change rooted in their unique identities and traditions.
To learn more about Solidarity of Nations-Achvat Amim, please visit our website at https://www.achvatamim.org, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. If you would like to apply to Achvat Amim’s 5-Month Immersive program this Fall, apply here; if you are living in the region and would like to apply to the Learning Group (Fall) or Justice Fellowship (Spring), apply to the Learning Group here or the Justice Fellowship here.
“In my opinion there is no other program that offers such a holistic first-hand experience of the history, cultures, and politics involved in Israel-Palestine. Achvat Amim has a large network of passionate people and has built a solid learning environment. It is a nourishing and creative project.”
—Nicole, Achvat Amim Participant, Spring 2015
Elly Oltersdorf is the Outreach Coordinator for Solidarity of Nations-Achvat Amim