Gypsy Community in East Jerusalem

The JHH delegation met with Anat Hoffman, director of the Israel Religious Action Center. She is a leading Israeli civil rights and social activist. She explained that the neediest group in Israel is the Gypsies. There are 5,000-10,000 Gypsies in East Jerusalem, where they are regarded as the lowest group in Palestinian society and are openly ridiculed in public and in school. Virtually no Jews know anything about them.

Gypsies

Amoun with Rabbi Soffin

The JHH delegation met with Amoun Sleem of the Domari Association for the Advancement of Gypsies in Jerusalem. She took us into East Jerusalem to see the situation firsthand.

Expected in her culture to be a beggar, Amoun has had a hard life, but has risen above it to get an education. She began her organization in 1999 despite opposition from the elders, including her father. Gypsies are Muslims; most cannot read or write. Their husbands oppose birth control, so many Gypsy women have 8 or 9 children.

JHH brought in many laptop computers for the kids to use. This has improved their English, and American volunteers came to teach them.

The JHH group saw the many traditional crafts the women there are making as they increase their self-esteem and earn some desperately needed money.

Amoun’s dream is to have a place in the Jewish side of the city for Jews and Arabs to patronize where women will work at sewing machines. May it come to be.