ABOUT HOUSE OF HANAN
House of Hanan is a safe cultural space in the old city of Nazareth, with a mission to celebrate, preserve, contribute to, and develop Palestinian folklore, culture and children’s literature. We do this through three main units: providing a children’s’ library and reading space open to the public; preserving and archiving the Palestinian folktale; and supporting Palestinian academics to research, write and further develop the Palestinian folktale.
Dr. Hanan Karkabi Jaraisy, the daughter of the city of Nazareth and Shefa-Amr of the Galilee, is a Palestinian writer, researcher and pioneering lecturer in the fields of education, educational counseling, and children's literature. She specialized in researching the interrelationship between the child and the story and the mediation between them. Her extensive and vital work focused on the world of Palestinian folk tale, where she studied it, taught it, narrated it, discussed it, wrote about it and continuously worked to preserve it. Dr. Hanan was also a feminist and political activist in her community, who has had an active role in the local Palestinian cultural, civil and political arena.
When Dr. Hanan left us and this world in May of 2020, at the height of her intellectual, literary and academic research, a group of her family, friends, and professional peers wanted to honor and continue her pioneering work on documenting and preserving Palestinian folklore and folk tales, and her tireless and continuous work in the field of children’s literature, and so the House of Hanan (HH) was established. HH is a registered non-profit civil initiative focused on reviving and preserving Palestinian cultural, civilizational and literary heritage through research, visual production, and activities for Palestinian children, parents, and professionals.
HH operates through three main units: a library and a literary house for children, parents and professionals, an accessible archive of Palestinian folk tale, and a grant fund for researchers and professionals to support the revival and preservation of Palestinian folklore and oral heritage.
BACKGROUND: PALESTINIAN MINORITY IN ISRAEL
The Arab-Palestinian population in Israel numbers about 1.5 million, constituting about 18% of the population of the State of Israel. As of 2019, the total fertility rate of Arab women is 98.2. Due to the relatively high fertility rates in the past, Arab society is very young. The percentage of children and youth under the age of 18 within it is 38.6%, while in Jewish society it’s 32%.
Policies pursued by Israeli governments for generations (since 1948), which began with the expropriation of land in the Nakba, overthrew the Arab population in the country, and limited, (and continue to limit), the possibilities of construction, socio-economic development and expansion of Arab localities. Long-standing prejudicial policies have led to the unplanned development of most Arab localities, increasing density, lack of public infrastructure that meets the needs of the population, especially in old and historical centers of the localities, lack of safe public spaces and public institutions for adults and children alike.
Notably, one of the most prominent areas of discrimination against Arab society is in the field of education. According to CBS data for 2018, only 18% of Arab children aged 0-2 are in an educational setting (private or public), compared with 68% of Jews.
Moreover, in Arab society in particular, where about half of the families are below the poverty line, there is a severe shortage of day care centers and a particularly low rate of toddlers attending these settings. The lack of supervised frameworks with a quality educational program, in which the level of care and education meets the child's developmental needs, mainly harms children from difficult socio-economic backgrounds.
The fact that public investment in childcare in early childhood education and care (0–2) is much lower than investment in other OECD countries is a fertile ground for inequality in the exercise of the right to early childhood care and education. The impact on Arab society, where the rate of belonging to the lower economic class is high, is particularly large.
Quality early childhood education plays a very important role in children's development and future success. Studies around the world show that investment in pre-school education is the highest yield, with far-reaching social, economic and cognitive implications. Education and cultural and linguistic investment in early childhood is crucial for the development of children and toddlers. Studies from around the world suggest that investing in early childhood education can greatly develop cognitive, emotional and social abilities and skills, especially in children from families from disadvantaged backgrounds, and improve their long-term educational and employment opportunities and their involvement and influence in their society.
In parallel to the materialistic aspect of discrimination, the Palestinian indigenous minority in Israel also continue to suffer from heavy discrimination in regards to their culture, heritage, language, and other aspects of their collective identity. Beyond the educational system, this discrimination is also reflected in the public sphere, cultural activities, media, and daily interactions. The protection and promotion of culture is a human rights imperative, and these discriminatory aspects have deeply affected the Palestinian children’s sense of belonging, and made them less connected to their community, culture, and heritage, and has affected their feeling of familiarity and trust.
House of Hanan was created to provide a safe cultural space for children, with a mission to celebrate, preserve, contribute to, and develop Palestinian folklore, culture and children’s literature through three main units:
The library, or the story space, is a safe and enjoyable space for children, parents and professionals, to read and share books, and it is HH’s center of cultural, educational and artistic activities in the field of children's literature. Through this space, we seek to shed light on the importance of storytelling to children and the dialogue around it from an early age, and provide a comfortable and supportive environment for parents to produce their own stories with their children.
In addition, we aspire to contribute to reconsidering the place of the story in our lives, especially in the lives of children, as a tool for expressing experiences, feelings, ideas and imagination, and as a learning tool that allows children to develop the skill of conscious listening, thinking skills, emotional and linguistic abilities, and a source of values for communication and language.
We also see in the library space an opportunity to republish and use the Palestinian folktale, expose children to it, and revive it as an important part of the Palestinian cultural heritage, and as a tool for developing children's creative, cognitive and emotional capacities, and motivate them to have the ability for moral judgement and critical thinking.
Part of the library’s usage will branch to Al-Darah’s Studio, which is an interactive space designed and adapted for children, that uses technological tools familiar and loved by them, in order to bring them closer and connect them to the world of stories and storytelling.
The studio will be tech-focused, and include different angles, such as: “podcast hut”, stop-motion kits, screens, creating electronic stories, and other interactive angles. The use of modern technology, which is familiar to the children and is close to their daily lives, will be used as a way to bring the story closer to children, pique their interest in it, and allow them to tell their own stories and communicate different feelings that stories evoke in them.
The workshop is a complementary, artistic and productive space, in line with the goals of the library and story space, and contributes to the process of children gaining the ability to tell their story, express their feelings, thoughts, concerns and ideas in creative and artistic ways. The workshop is also a space for artists, craftsmen and professionals, and serves as a platform for them to communicate with the children and their world, and helps them develop further skills and tools within their profession.
The Palestinian Folktale Archive is the foundation of a documentation, archiving and research process that relies in the first phase on the large collection of Dr. Hanan Karkaby’s studies, research and documentation materials on the Palestinian folktale, including recordings of dozens of Palestinian elderly folk telling stories from our folklore through their different versions and dialects.
The archive aims to preserve this valuable treasure, present it to the public, and motivate researchers and academics to further research, explore, analyze and document the vast and interesting world of folktale. The archive will also contribute to preserving an important part of the cultural and educational heritage of the Palestinian people around the world.
This grant fund is a small fund for researchers and professionals to support the revival and preservation of Palestinian folklore and oral heritage. The fund is aimed to encourage researchers, academics and professionals to research, study, and delve deeper into the Palestinian folktale and Palestinian children’s literature, and to develop and match modern tools and mechanisms to serve the mutual relationship between children and storytelling. The fund will benefit both the individual supported and provide them with tools to further develop their academic career, and it will benefit HH’s objectives to expand and preserve the academic world revolving around Palestinian folktale, and folktale in general.