Hands of Peace is an interfaith organization developing peace-building and leadership skills in Israeli, Palestinian, and American teens through the power of dialogue and personal relationships. Started in the Chicago suburbs, this non-profit was created in 2002 by three women—one Christian, one Jewish, and one Muslim—who shared the conviction that peace could be nurtured, person by person. We have expanded in size, strength, and scope ever since, including the addition of our San Diego Program. Our Chicago and San Diego Programs serve more than 85 teens each summer. Hands of Peace is unique in that Middle East teens are hosted by local families — providing a meaningful opportunity for cross-cultural exchange.

Our active operations teams are comprised of volunteers, and work year-round on a variety of responsibilities. This includes local participant and host family recruiting, communications and public relations, community outreach, event planning, Alumni Club coordination, and much of the planning for the 18-day Summer Program.

We continue to broaden our reach in the United States and the Middle East— geographically, religiously, and politically— and the volunteer base upon which we depend continues to grow. Our Summer Programs typically involve a total of 80+ participants, and we aim for diversity in religion, geography and political viewpoints.

In addition to our Middle East and American Alumni Clubs, HOP also has an Excel (XL) Program for outstanding participants to return to the Summer Program for a second year and act as role models for new participants.

HOP is a program that gives you something to hold on to. It gives you friends that you never thought you would have and it teaches you about yourself and how to listen, feel compassion, and how to disagree but still create such a caring friendship. – Adi, Jewish Israeli XL