Ma’ayan Bamidbar (meaning “Wellspring in the Desert”)
is a mutual academic tutoring program
between Jewish and Arab students
that takes place throughout the academic year.
About The Project
Ma’ayan Bamidbar (meaning “A Wellspring in the Desert”) is a unique study program between Jewish and Arab students at academic institutions, where pairs of Jewish and Arab students help one another in Hebrew and Arabic.
Jewish and Arab students study side by side at academic institutions in Israel, but most do not interact with the “other”. We established the Ma’ayan Bamidbar project to change that reality. Our unique model contributes to creating personal connections between Jewish and Arab students, removing prejudice and bridging the language and culture gaps between the two sides.
Ma’ayan Bamidbar seeks to bridge both social divisions, and academic and linguistic inequalities by pairing up Jewish and Arab students for mutual tutoring sessions and group activities over the course of an academic year. During the project the Jewish student assists their Arab partner in Hebrew language to improve the academic performance of Arab students, while the Arab student assists their Jewish partner in Arabic language in order to increase exposure and familiarity with Arabic language and culture which are often edged out of the public sphere in mainstream Israeli society.
We see students, Israeli society’s future leaders, as a potential driving force who can help close cultural and economic gaps.
How we got started and where we work
The Ma’ayan Bamidbar project was set up in Beersheba as a platform for Jewish and Bedouin students to get acquainted, to help Bedouin students in their studies, and to expanding the Jewish stuents’ knowledge of spoken Arabic.
In 2018 the project also began to operate in Jerusalem, and in 2020 in central and northern Israel as well.
Today, the program operates in Jerusalem, Haifa, Beersheba and central Israel, at the following academic institutions:
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, David Yellin College, Azrieli College of Engineering, Bezalel College, Sami Shimon College, Ben Gurion University, Sapir College, Kay College, Tel Aviv University, Bar Ilan University, Tel Aviv-Jaffa Academic College, Shenkar, Oranim College, Haifa University, The Technion and other institutions.
Study Partnerships: The core of the project comprises weekly study partnerships between pairs of Arab and Jewish students. Each pair meets for three hours a week. Two-thirds of meetings are dedicated to academic assistance to the Arab student – usually tutoring in Hebrew and assistance in writing assignments – while in the remaining hour, the Arab student teaches the Jewish student conversational Arabic. Naturally collaborative learning leads to mutual acquaintance of one another’s culture, religion, and community.
Group Meetings: Throughout the year, we organize 4 local group meetings in each of our geographical locations. The purpose of the meetings is to enable students from the same academic institutions to get to know one another, to learn about and understand Israeli society and identity in different ways, to open up major issues for discussion and thought, and to create a sense of partnership and connection between program participants.
Alumni Social Initiatives:
In order to continue the work of program alumni and to increase the program’s circles of influence, we developed a model in which groups of alumni receive guidance and a small budget to implement social and cultural initiatives that focus on bringing Jews and Arabs together.