From Ramadan to Passover – In Shared Community

by | Apr 22, 2024

Though we have not been posting on social media, we wanted to share our recent work with a broader audience. So last week we made this post, which contains some information we have shared with you as well as new developments. As Ramadan has passed and Passover begins tonight, we thought it fitting to shine some light on the power of shared community.


We are posting this message today to provide our longtime followers and supporters with an update on the state of our community and activities during these tumultuous and devastating times. We have been very busy, and feel compelled to make a post to provide the utmost clarity about our ongoing work at Ultimate Peace.

Our focus since 2010 has been to build shared community in a divided region through innovative ultimate and leadership programs. While we have faced the harsh realities of numerous violent eruptions and phases of social upheaval in the Middle East over the years, nothing has come close to bringing this amount of pain and loss to the Israeli and Palestinian communities we serve.

Numerous members of our UP family have been and are being affected by the violence. So many innocent Palestinian and Israeli lives have been lost. Everyone knows someone. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is heartbreaking, unfathomable. The fate of the hostages remains frightening. We grieve every day for all those suffering in the region, and for their survivors who will tragically live on with the horrible trauma. We are shocked and incensed that regional and global leaders have not stepped up to stop the violence. And now there are more escalations on new fronts.

Clearly the social, political and cultural issues that sparked this war are not new – they are ever-present, wholly unresolved, and in our view, catalysts of toxic division, increasing inequity, and cycles of vengeful destruction. If they are not confronted and corrected by responsible leaders, the suffering and heartache we are witnessing in this war will never cease to escalate. Real change will require joining together, seeking understanding, and coming to reconciliation towards a peaceful future where all people are safe and secure. This is our belief – it is what drives our work, one person at a time, every day.

What are We Doing? At Ultimate Peace and Unifly (our Middle East program), our way of dealing with violent outbreaks and times of war has always been to take action. To keep working, to work harder on the things we can change, to stay true to our mission – to ignite and unite youth separated by cultural divides. This seems to us more important than ever. Here is what we are doing:

1. Keeping the Programs Going (and growing) – This is what we exist to do. Unifly is, with inspiring resilience, continuing to provide programs in Muslim and Jewish communities, and finding new places to serve as well. We are still bringing diverse teens together, as challenging as that can be during a regional conflict. As long as it’s safe, we will keep the flame flickering. As Karym, UNIFLY’s executive director, said after watching a game with Muslim and Jewish teens: “The main thing that brings me joy right now is watching those kids play and smile and get so lost in the moment they can finally experience joy”.

2. Facilitating Interactive Panels – We are organizing people in our Middle East community to share their lived experience not only with each other but with international audiences who otherwise can only gather their knowledge from the media. We are creating space for processing these horrific events, trying to understand them from multiple views, and continuing to learn.

Enabling people with multiple and conflicting perspectives to see more of the contextualized complexity has been pivotal in helping them gain an appreciation for the nuance of the issues that would be impossible without this exposure.

As the brave Imam, Sheik Al-baz points out: “Many in the West have fallen into the emotional traps of anger, fear and righteousness toward the perceived other side. Exporting the conflict will not bring peace any more than it will bring victory, and the only way to reduce the flames is to learn to coexist.”

3. Expanding Our International Reach and Impact – This summer, we will again host diverse youth from around the U.S. (the strong need to build bridges here is clear) with greatly expanded international participation of teens and coaches, including cohorts from the Middle East (a vital exchange program right now), India (via a gender equity project through the US consulate), Colombia, and Mexico. We believe the importance of building shared community while spreading our values of mutual respect, nonviolence, friendship, integrity, and fun is more pressing than ever. 

4. Convening Special Events to Elevate Hope – Last week, as Ramadan was coming to a close, the Unifly staff organized a shared community gathering in Tamra, an Arab Muslim village. Youth from five Jewish and Muslim communities in the program were invited; families were also welcomed. Ultimate games were scheduled first, to be followed by a special on-field Iftar dinner.

Concerns about youth and adults not coming because of the war dissipated when carloads of Jewish teens and their families drove up from a town over an hour away, the Tamra hosts welcoming them with open arms. Then a bus came from another village, then more cars. The staff was overwhelmed by the amount of parents who came, Muslim and Jewish, who showed up to support their kids and celebrate the beautiful holiday together in one united community. 60-80 people were expected, but over 100 showed up. We have had similar events like this over the last months, but this one (pictured above) was very special. We are not aware of many other gatherings like this right now, but it is clear people are more than eager to commune.

Rabbi Sharon Brous puts it simply: This “time of heartache and great pain” is the moment in which “we must find our way toward one another in sorrow, celebration, and solidarity”.

We know everyone is dealing with this crisis of humanity in different ways – through protest, raising funds, creating statements, posting on social media, debating in public and private. We are convinced the best thing we can do today is to step up our work, to follow the principles of nonviolence, to keep forging new pathways to human connection. This is our purpose, this is what we will continue to do.

As we all hope and pray for peace, may we all find our own ways to help and to heal.


We hear there are also inclusive Passover gatherings happening this week in the Middle East. This brings much needed joy at this time of great strife. If you are celebrating, we hope you will find peace and community around your own Seder table. 

As always, we appreciate your support. Today, we are raising money to bring young a cross-cutuyral team of young people in our program and their coaches from the Middle East (who will not have a camp this summer due to the war); we can use all the help we can get. Please Support Them Here

With deep appreciation,

Team UP