Mahapach - Taghir
Mahapach-Taghir is a grassroots, feminist, Jewish-Arab organization that works for social change through education and community empowerment. By working in partnership with community groups, we aim to achieve equal socioeconomic and educational opportunities for all.
Formally established in 1998, Mahapach-Taghir was founded by a group of students in Jerusalem who were influenced by the student campaigns against rising tuition prices, which resulted in the longest student strike to take place in Israeli history. This group of students believed that the energy and power of passionate students should be utilized for the greater good, to bring about broader social change, rather than addressing only issues that impacted them directly. They set out to volunteer in the impoverished neighborhood of Katamonim, in Jerusalem, where they consulted community members and realized the need for after-school educational and social programming for children in marginalized neighborhoods.
The learning center they started for the children became a hub for community activism as parents gradually became involved in their children’s educational experience. Through this involvement, the students were constantly confronted by the lack of resources and municipal neglect faced by residents and helped start a process of community empowerment. This process led to the establishment of the Learning Community model.
The Learning Community, which became the heart of each and every Mahapach-Taghir community, offers children and youth curricular and social tutoring; it also encourages the involvement of adult residents in the pedagogical process and thus empowers the entire community. This model was developed following the Marxist principles of critical pedagogy and was adjusted to conditions in Israel by experts in the field of education. Currently Mahapach-Taghir works in eight Communities, serving over 600 children and families and facilitating the work and training of over 150 university students.
The vision of Mahapach-Taghir is a just Israeli society with equal socioeconomic and educational opportunities for all, and a strong democratic civil society. The principles that facilitate these goals and methodologies are:
- Critical Pedagogy and Community Activism: Critical pedagogy is an educational approach that encourages the student to challenge dominating concepts. It empowers marginalized communities by focusing on skills relevant to the community and by highlighting the connection between access to knowledge and tools on the one hand and the ability for marginalized communities to take responsibility over their own futures on the other.
- Feminism: At its core, Mahapach-Taghir is a feminist organization based on feminist principles of partnership, equality, transparency, empathy and shared decision making, focusing on the empowerment of women and their families. Women activists learn about human rights and different types of feminism, and they acquire practical skills for petitioning the local authorities on behalf of their community. They gain experience in coordinating and executing community projects and are provided with tools needed to develop local initiatives based on specific community needs and to turn them into national projects.
- Jewish-Palestinian Partnership: Mahapach-Taghir strives to promote an alternative discourse that recognizes and accepts the narrative of the other, fosters a positive perspective on identity, and encourages inter-community solidarity and partnership based on shared values of human rights. One of the first steps in creating Jewish-Palestinian partnership is the shared leadership of Mahapach-Taghir by Jewish and Palestinian co-directors. This feminist and equitable model sends an important message to the communities of Mahapach-Taghir: Jewish-Palestinian partnership is not only possible, it strengthens the organization.