Monday, November 18, 2019

A New Dawn in Italy - Taking on the Environment

 Love is the answer, and love is the way! Shree Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram...
     Eight people were bundled up and singing at the top of their lungs deep in the Italian countryside about an hour’s drive away from Perugia. While the participants of this conference were from all over (Italy, Germany, Morocco, Israel, the Netherlands, Russia, and Slovenia), they shared common goals that contributed to an amazing camaraderie.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Going Green Together - The Interfaith Climate and Energy Conference

“What is my responsibility to the world around me?” 
This question is one asked by people of faith and environmentalists alike, and it was the central
question being debated at the 2019 Interfaith Climate and Energy Conference at the University of
Notre Dame’s Tantur Ecumenical Institute. 

Friday, August 9, 2019

A New Dawn in America - My Journey to the States

Jamal Alkarenawi - August 2019
It’s been a very eventful month where I traveled across several states and cities on the East Coast. Starting with Baltimore I proudly participated representing A New Dawn in the Negev at OLAM Focal Point 2019 Conference at the Pearlstone Retreat Center. Olam’s Focal Point is an amazing global service, focusing on international development, and humanitarian aid to network, exchanging ideas and best practices, as well as celebrate their shared commitment to serving the world’s most vulnerable individuals. An amazing group of people coming together to make the world a better place, to which I am thankful to the organizers for putting together and sponsoring A New Dawn in the Negev to come as a member, as well as because of all the wonderful people I met, and work they are doing.
While traveling in the United States I visited Washington D.C., New Jersey, New York City and Baltimore where I had the chance to speak with many people to explain A New Dawn in the Negev’s cause, and how our mission is to enable Bedouin and Arab youths to join and engage with as partners and friends in Israeli society.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

The inspiring story behind the innovative founder of A New Dawn in the Negev

How a quiet student, bullied for his glasses, became an active and visionary leader in his community, the Bedouin city of Rahat.

By Oliver Vrankovic

Oliver Vrankovic's Profile Photo, Image may contain: 1 person

Original article in German here

Jamal Alkirnawi went to school in Rahat, the largest Bedouin city in the world. Rahat in the Israeli Negev Desert has more than 62,000 inhabitants and is divided among nearly three dozen family clans into quarters, each with its own infrastructure...

Jamal was a quiet and good student, who was often bullied because of his glasses. When he was 15 years old, an exchange with a school from Rehovot was planned. Jamal remembers how the school was cleaned and decorated for two weeks and how the whole neighborhood was very excited. Jamal and his classmates had to rehearse performances in preparation for the visit from Rehovot. The day the Bedouin and Jewish students finally met changed everything for Jamal.

While the children from Rehovot jumped off the bus casually, carefree and loudly, the pupils from Rahat were standing in a row. Jamal, who had never left Rahat before, experienced a freedom until then unknown to him. While the directors of the two schools exchanged formalities, he took all his courage, stepped out of the line of Bedouin students and walked towards a Jewish student who, like himself, was wearing glasses, and invited him to his home for dinner. The two boys asked each other what they do after school. While Jamal replied that he did nothing, Eran turned out to be the head of the Student Council for the school in Rehovot.

In the less than two hours that Jamal and Eran had, the Bedouin boy gained an insight into the world beyond Rahat. He and his classmates didn't know about the possibility to have a say in school matters. Before saying goodbye, Eran gave Jamal the number of the youth and society department of the Ministry of Education. Jamal called two weeks later, and claimed to be the head of the student representatives of his school in Rahat. Thrilled to finally have a school chair from an Arabic-speaking school, Jamal was invited to Beer Sheva to meet the Inspector of the Student Councils at the Ministry of Education. On that day, Jamal skipped school and left from Rahat to Beer Sheva. Jamal was not only the great attraction of the meeting but this event set in motion a journey which lead to Jamal being elected as a delegate to the national student council  after a very active 3 years as a local youth leader.

Parents and school were shocked by Jamal's initiative. Nevertheless, slowly he educated those around him about the good work he was doing. Finally the director felt compelled to actually have a student representation elected. Jamal changed from an unofficial student representative to an official one.

As a member of the national student representation he travelled to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, felt freedom and acquired practical knowledge. In this time, he recognized the value of non-formal education, tells Jamal.

He remembers that he had prevailed against all resistance. The greatest resistance, however, was tradition. In the Bedouin community, modernization is perceived as a threat to cultural heritage. Jamal explains that schoolchildren are under extreme control because of a fear of change.

More than every fourth inhabitant of the Israeli desert is Bedouin. At the beginning of the 20th century, 90 tribes of the nomadic people migrated to the Negev via Saudi Arabia and the Sinai. In 1900, the Ottoman Empire founded the first permanent settlement for the Bedouins in the biblical city of Beer Sheva. Of the 65,000 Bedouins who lived semi-settled in the Negev before the Israeli War of Independence, 19 tribes remained, with fewer than 11,000 Bedouins altogether.

In the early 1950s, the Israeli army moved eleven of the remaining tribes to a closed area north of the Negev, where the other eight tribes also lived, known as Sajag. In 1968 the first Bedouin community was founded in Tel Sheva (Arab: Tel as-Sabi). Today there are seven recognized Bedouin communities in which 72,500 people officially live: Ar'ara, Hura, Kseife, Lakiya, Tel Sheva, Segev Shalom (Arabic Shaqib al-Salman) and Rahat. In addition, between 55,000 and 77,000 Bedouins live in an estimated 50 unrecognized settlements in the Negev.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Jamal's Biography


My name is Jamal Alkirnawi and I am founder and CEO of A New Dawn in the Negev, an NGO working to build a shared society between Jews and Arabs in Israel's Negev region. I'll be visiting the East Coast of the United States from June 2019 to July 2019, and I wanted to let you know a bit about myself and see if there's any possibility that we could meet during my time in the US and discuss collaborative partnership opportunities.

Who am I and what is "A New Dawn in the Negev"?

I am a Son of Rahat, a Bedouin town right outside of Be’er Sheva. I am born and raised in the Bedouin community in Israel's Negev Desert; and subject to the myriad of challenges that our youth face. I persevered because I knew education was the only way to advance myself and my community. I created the first Bedouin Youth Parliament of its kind, and my work began. This article talks about my experience as an adolescent growing up in Rahat, and how meeting students from Rehovot showed me a world that existed outside of my community. This was the moment that I decided to take leadership and action in my community to get out of the seclusion in Israel, and become a nomadic student. 

After receiving a Masters in Social Work from McGill University in Canada and an MBA with a focus on social leadership from Ben Gurion University in the Negev, I was selected as one of 35 Young Leadership delegates to the first Echenberg Conference on Genocide Prevention. Following my studies I decided to devote my life to making a change in the Bedouin community of the Negev where I grew up. The Bedouin community has scarce socioeconomic resources and an alarmingly high educational drop-out rate, both in comparison to Israel’s mainstream population and its non-Bedouin, Arab counterparts. I felt like if I could move forward and succeed in education where others had not, I would be primed to help other Bedouin youth have these opportunities.

Ten years ago, I founded "A New Dawn" to make a change both within the Bedouin community and Israeli society. The objective of this program is to bring together the Jews and Bedouin of the Negev. We are a grassroots organization which believes that education, employment, and leadership are the key elements that can enable youth and young adults to rise out of poverty to become active, engaged citizens – which will in turn strengthen Israel as a shared society. With the goal of creating equal educational opportunities for Bedouin youth through a variety of projects – English learning, high-tech education, musical training, and more – we are working to end the isolation of Bedouin society by helping its youth break into the Israeli mainstream, while still maintaining a proud connection to their culture.

As a leader in my field, I have received the Tikvah Fund award from Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Ben Gurion University. My work has been recognized by funding from the United States Embassy, and I have received awards and fellowships from the Goldin Institute and the Anna Lindh Foundation, as well as the Recanati-Kop-Rashi Award for Entrepreneurship in Social Work. I have been interviewed by i24 News and my work has been covered by the Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, YNet, and Times of Israel.

Why am I coming to the US, and how does it relate to you?

I am coming to the United States next month to build partnerships and connections with leaders and community members who want to learn more about the Bedouin community and hear from those leading the way to help strengthen Israel as a shared society. I’ve worked tirelessly for ten years, and now I’d like some more partners to take our successes to another level.

I'll be meeting with synagogues and campus groups, NGOs and fundraisers, leaders, community members and educators – pretty much anyone who wants to deepen their understanding of Israeli society's dilemmas in 2019, who wants to hear voices from marginalized communities, and who want to work towards making Israel and the world a better place.

I'd love to meet with you one-on-one, and I am also happy to do presentations for your community/organization about the challenges facing Israel and its Bedouin community in the 21st century. The road to peace starts with finding new avenues of collaboration and empowerment, and I’d like to empower our Bedouin youth to strive for success by empowering the American community to get involved.

Wishing you all the best, with a blessing of Shalom and Salaam,

Monday, April 29, 2019

A New Place, A New Time

My first experience working with the Bedouin with A New Dawn in the Negev of Israel was in the
 summer of 2017, almost two years after coming to Israel. I was invited to participate as an English teacher, allowing me to get to know many of the young Bedouin of Rahat as well as fellow English 

teachers in the community

From this experience I got to know Bedouin culture better than I had with Masa, or I ever could academic or sociological studies; as I was not just invited to see the community, but take part in it as well. I was given a traditional kafiya, I tried Bedouin style pizza (lots of corn!) and even made lifelong friends, one of whom was also the first person to actually encourage my system of belief in Israel gifting me a small, very old Buddha that she had found in the desert

She has probably been my best friend in Israel, truthfully. And it was through A New Dawn in the Negev I was able to forge that kinship. A New Dawn in the Negev works diligently to show the world who they and their culture are by not just holding cultural demonstrations, but actively inviting those of other communities, from anywhere in the world, to take part in their lives

Bedouin culture is famous for their hospitality, and the traveler with good will and honest intent to learn will find kinship in such faraway places from their own

It is in this way people get an authentic experience working with the Bedouin, and seeing far more than if they were a passing tourist or aide helper who will only be able to act on a surface level. By taking part you are not just made to feel welcome, but become a part of the tapestry of memory it creates

And if for no other reason, the best fish I have had was in the cultural home of desert nomads, going for the unexpected familiarity will demonstrate most tangibly that positive relationships are not only possible, but necessary, and in this A New Dawn in the Negev acts diligently

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Meet Jamal Alkirnawi

Jamal Alkirnawi is an entrepreneur and the founder and executive director of A New Dawn in the Negev, a Bedouin-Jewish organization in Israel, that has operated for over ten years. A passionate visionary, the organization is a manifestation of his desire to raise the level of education for the Bedouin community in Israel’s Negev region.
Jamal’s deep experience in the field sources from his bachelor’s degree in public health administration and two graduate degrees:  a master’s of social work from McGill University (Canada) with a specialization in peacebuilding and civil society, and a Mandel MBA in social leadership from his alma mater, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
A social activist since youth, Jamal grew up in the Bedouin community in Israel and rose through the university system, integrating his own experiences and successes to become the academic counselor for Arab students at Ben-Gurion University, where he worked for 7 years. This has had a great impact on rising graduation rates, as well as better education for bedouins.
Jamal believes that the key for the Bedouin development is through superior education. A high quality of education will prevent the city’s high drop-out rate and the risky behaviors practiced by Bedouin youth; teaching them to become responsible, ethical, and committed citizens in Israeli communities, while providing programs for High tech education. This process must begin in infancy, he asserts, combatting the gaps between Arabs and Jews that begin at birth and continues on through the lifecycle. A New Dawn is committed to this ideal through all of its programs and believes that it should be the highest public priority. His vision is for Bedouin in the near future to be involved with global development, volunteering in Israel, and interacting with other international communities.
For his innovative work in the community, Jamal was recognized in 2014 by the Recanati-Kop-Chais-Rashi Award for Entrepreneurship in Social Work (Honorable Mention). He was recognized by the Tikvah Fund president Reuven-Rivlin with the Israel Hope award in 2018 at Ben-Guirion University. He is a gather fellow of the Goldin Institute (
He continues to travel internationally to increase awareness of Bedouin community and culture, as well as to network for more partnerships to participate in exchange and improve educational programs. A New Dawn in the Negev recently hosted international exchange students, as well as bringing Bedouin students abroad to visit, as well as cultural programs to bring the Bedouin Negev communities into close friendship with local communities.

If you would like to contact Jamal Alkirnawi, please contact him via facebook, or at

היאבקות מחברת בין קהילות - Wrestling connect communities

The Maccabi Beer Sheva Association is headed by Leonid Shulman, who has been known in Beer Sheva neighborhoods for years. Boys and girls from the age of six can find not only the wrestling classes but also a warm home for their afternoons, where homework help can be obtained as well as friendship in two different but very close communities coming together.

According to Jamal Alkirnawi, founder and director of the association A New Dawn in the Negev (, "The programs are to connect communities, those of Bedouins and Jews to enable social barriers to be broken and see common good."

Jamal and Leonid, each in his own community, understand the importance of formal education and informal education. The two social activists were happy for the opportunity to bring the populations of Beer Sheva and Rahat closer together, and since the end of October, a bus has come to the school in Rahat at 3 PM, and the group, together with an accompanying spa, is traveling to Be'er Sheva. They arrive at the recently renovated Maccabi AMI hall, where they dress and then prepare for the class. The group consists of fourteen boys and girls from Rahat who come three times a week for the wrestling department in Be'er Sheva to join an existing group of local Beer Sheva children.

Leonid, and his assistant coach, his son Yuri (ranked No. 3 in the world under the age of 23) are waiting for them and together with the team from Be'er Sheva, there is an hour of running, jumping, flips and various wrestling exercises.

In their eyes this is the long road where building a champion begins.

Leonid says, "In the first few encounters there were some discipline problems, and the children were very excited though it was not easy for them to listen to me ... I feel that today they are more relaxed and we can already see interaction between the children from both cities."

And according to the organizers, the class is only the beginning.

A tournament is already planned in the spring with the participation of the children and their parents. After the tournament there will be refreshments and social activities in the hope of deepening the relationship between the parents of both communities. Thanks to the Schwartz Family who support the effort, do not regard the new department activity as a single one-year occasion, and it is expected to continue for the coming years, as well as expand. They have already begun this in the greatest of spirits for their proud community endeavour.

לאוניד שולמן, העומד בראש עמותת מכבי באר שבע, הוא דמות מוכרת בקרב תושבי באר שבע.
ילדים וילדות המשתתפים בחוג ההיאבקות של לאוניד, מוצאים במסגרת הזו לא רק חוג, אלא גם בית חם בשעות אחה״צ בו הם יכולים לקבל עזרה בשיעורי הבית וגם מקום ליצור חברות ושותפות בין שתי קהילות שונות אך שכנות.

ג׳מאל אלקירנאווי, מנכ״ל ומייסד עמותת השחר החדש בנגב רואה בחוג ההאיבקות של לאוניד, המפגיש ילדים בדואים ויהודים יחד בחוג אחד, הזדמנות לחבר בין שתי הקהילות, לנפץ חסמים חברתיים ולמצוא את הטוב המשותף.

ג׳מאל ולאוניד, כל אחד בקהילה שלו, מבינים את החשיבות של חינוך פורמאלי ובלתי פורמאלי.
שני הפעילים החברתיים שמחו להוציא לפועל את החזון לחבר בין שתי הקהילות והחל מאוקטובר מגיע אוטובוס שאוסף קבוצת ילדים מרהט בשעה 3 אחה״צ ומוביל אותם לחוג בבאר שבע
הילדים מגיעים לאולם המשופץ של מכבי ע.מ.י, שם הם מתלבשים ומתכוננים לקראת השיעור
בקבוצה יש 14 בנים ובנות מרהט והם מצטרפים שלוש פעמים בשבוע לחוג ההיאבקות המתקיים בבאר שבע.

לאוניד ועוזר המאמן שלו, בנו יורי (מקום 3 בעולם מתחת לגיל 23) מחכים לילדים ויחד עם ילדי הקבוצה הקיימת בבאר שבע עוברים שעה של ריצה, קפיצה, גלגול ותרגילי היאבקות שונים שהם הדרך בעיני המאמנים, לבניית אלופי המחר.

״במפגשים הראשונים, חווינו בעיות משמעת עם הילדים ולמרות שהם היו נלהבים, היה להם קשה להקשיב לי״ מספר לאוניד. ״אני מרגיש שהיום הם רגועים יותר וניתן לראות את האינטראקציה הטובה בין הילדים שתי הערים״.

מארגני היוזמה הזו מצהירים שהחוג הוא רק ההתחלה.
בימים אלו, החל ארגון של טורניר היאבקות שעתיד להתקיים באביב בהשתתפות הילדים ובנוכחות הוריהם
בסיום האירוע, יהנו המשתתפים מכיבוד ושתייה ומגוון פעילויות חברתיות במטרה להעמיק את הקשר גם בקרב הורי הילדים משתי הקהילות.

הודות התמיכה הרבה של משפחת שוורץ, היוזמה היא לא חד שנתית אלא מתוכננת להמשיך ולהתקיים בשנים שיבואו ולהתרחב וכבר החלו המאמצים להמשיך ולתרום לקהילה ולתוכנית המבורכת הזו
Wrestling to connect and integrate communities

Students of Salahdin school from Rahat

Thursday, February 21, 2019

An experience with a New Dawn in the Negev

My experience with the Bedouin of the Negev has been a remarkable one. I have been fortunate as an educator, human rights advocate and activist, to have been allowed to assist Mr. Alkernawi and his organization a New Dawn in the Negev.

He is a CEO who undertakes a massive effort, with international support, to not only help his fellow Bedouin people adjust to life in the 21st century, but retain their identity, while also fostering better relations between Israeli and Arab. In a real sense, though often quiet, his organization is paving the road for future peace. It is thanks to him I was made to feel so welcome by the Bedouin community.

It was thanks to a New Dawn that I was able to open my mind and let go of preconceptions about the Bedouin people. This is something I believe all Israelis, and anyone who cares about Israel should take the time to do. All too often people thousands of miles away have a say in influence or financial support, but do not actually understand the situation of life in Israel. Visiting, meeting, speaking with is something that should be done, especially here, before a judgement or decision is made.

Many who pick a side do so without realizing there are more than just Jew or Arab that composes Israeli society and what its peoples face- it's an international culture that is also ancient, and without direct communication and dialogue with those who live here, peace is difficult.

This is why what a New Dawn does, via education, implementing music programs for Arab students, and grants for studying and community improvement is so important. It opens the door for someone like me, a Virginian, Buddhist, and Jew, to consider them not only allies in my dream for a better future for Israel, but actual friends. It has allowed me to teach English in Bedouin villages, help those seeking aid, and even establish gardens in the middle east, literally helping craft a better way of life. And it is not only they who have benefited, but I as well. One story that stands out is a Bedouin friend had found a small Buddha, long lost in the desert, and knowing my background and beliefs brought it to me. People all too often judge without looking- there is a profound respect in this people, both for themselves, and others, but all too often people mistake it for pride when it is genuine integrity.

I would not be surprised if in the future a New Dawn achieved its goals with full integration of Bedouin within Israeli society- where both parties can work together because of our differences, rather than in spite of.

If anything, my hope is that those who read this piece take the time to look into A New Dawn in the Negev, the history of the Bedouin people in Israel, and consider how assisting them also assists Israel and the world in stepping toward stability here.

Israel in a way, has a leader who would make Martin Luther King Jr proud of his efforts, I just wish the world knew more of Mr. Alkernawi's efforts concerning not just Bedouin and Israelis but all others with compassion as well. A great example of this was the gala dinner on 01/2/2019, where a German fellowship visited Bedouin, experiencing the legendary Bedouin hospitality. This visit was in friendship, organized by multiple organizations from multiple countries. Here the students demonstrated effort of cultural inclusion from their perspective. From doves of peace handmade from clay, to the union of symbols associated with the major faiths of Israel. It was here Mr. Alkernawi spoke, welcoming and thanking all for participating.

On one hand those from Germany were able to enjoy traditional Bedouin foods alongside Hungarian mousse and other European foodstuffs. On the other the importance of the gathering and meal was underscored, not just only in remembering the past, but that remembering the past is integral for the world, for Jews, Germans, Bedouins and Arabs to thus carry forward. It is with a responsibility that comes with understanding and empathy, a responsibility to stand up and go because we can, and those who can must, it is only in this way the errs of the past will not only not be repeated, but can also possibly be remedied and rectified.

The earnest friendship one could see in Mr. Alkernawi's speech underscores that- no matter how tired, we love what we do because we know that undertaking such courses enables the world to turn a little better, with smiles worn a little more easily upon it.