About
Us

The Story Behind The Orchard of Abraham's Children

The Orchard of Abraham’s Children nonprofit was born out of an exceptional love story between a Muslim man and a Jewish woman.

 

Ihab, a Muslim Arab from Jaffa, a spiritual leader and a peace activist, and Ora, a Jewish body-movement therapist  from the Galilee, fell in love, and despite the gaps and tension between the two cultures, the couple took a leap of faith and tied the knot.

 

In 2008, Nur, their first child was born and soon after they were facing a profound dilemma:  Jewish kindergarten? Arab kindergarten? There was no good available option.

 

Overcoming the dilemma, they established in 2010 a unique kindergarten, for Jewish, Christian and Muslim children that reflect their interfaith way of living and beliefs. The Orchard is a multicultural kindergarten, based on love and acceptance for all religions and cultures in the Holy Land.

05e3dc_b54f1a79dc714f15bf8aaefa410f40e1_mv2_d_1920_1280_s_2.webp

 

What started with one child in a single kindergarten, soon grew into multiple kindergartens. Over the past decade thousands of children were educated in the Orchard in Jaffa and the Galilee..

 

By 2018, hundreds of Jewish and Arab families - adults, parents and neighbors, sparked with a strong desire to meet and deepen the ties -  have joined the Orchard in establishing the Human First Education Center (HFE). Promoting a new language of peace- the Community Center offers multicultural human interactions and empowerment activities through workshops, lectures, art courses, spiritual teaching and  religion sessions.

 

Over time, the Orchard has become a role model, inspiring many organizations, institutions and individuals from the Holy Land and worldwide, leading to establishing an inspirational, one of a kind, visitor center for tourists and supporters from around the world. Nowadays, the Human First Education is a symbol for a new, groundbreaking educational-social and community model, transcending barriers of fear and ignorance, and cultivating a culture of respect among communities and individuals.

5005da_fffd76f7b8ed41e3b4506d767b19ecff_mv2.webp
5005da_eb0ad6a9ba0a47b58f7957db78b9eb84_mv2.webp
The People Behind The Orchard of Abraham's Children
Ihab balha

Ihab is the manager of the “The Orchard of Abraham’s children” Foundation, a peace activist and an educator, with experience in the area of Coexistence and bridging gaps between people. For more the 18 years, he has been an Islamic Cleric and a researcher of the Sufi Movement - the mythical Islamic movement.

Ihab is sanctifying values of Islam for Peace and Love which constitute powerful tools to bridge and join hearts between people.

Ihab is a family man and the father of Noor, Anis and Habib.

תמונה אורה.jpg
Ora Balha

Ora is the manager of the foundation alongside Ihab. She is a young mother of three sons. Ora has been the director of the association since its inception. Ora is the key contact in Israel and around the world. She is a mediator between people from different cultures, and has a belief that each person is a messenger of peace and love.

Ora is a qualified dance teacher and Feldenkrais method instructor. She is also an experienced Sufi whirling teacher and has considerable knowledge of the Sufi Mevlavi order.

 

Ihab and Ora are leading an inspirational life of reconciliation, coexistence, and instilling a culture of peace.

irit3.jpg
Irit Tzoref

Irit is the manager of finance and administration, and producer of the events of the association.

After a rich 36-year career in high-tech, she has become part of the actual realization of the vision for peace and closeness between humans, of connection to nature and human nature.

Mother of two wonderful young women, engaged in art and going in the Sufi way.

The Foundation Board Members

Hayat Abou Shmess: Chairman, as of December 2011. Principal of the AHVA primary school in Jaffa.

Monir Urial Shoat: Member of the committee, as of December 2011.

Elishevah Gostphson: Member of the committee, as of December 2011.

Zachariah Awad: Member of the committee, as of April 2018.

Adi Ashkenazi: Member of the committee, as of May 2020.

Salim Sa’aba: Member of the Audit Committee, as of December 2012.

Myasar Zachariah: Member of the Audit Committee, as of April 2018.