Childrens' banner aims for peace

June 17, 2009 9:34:51 AM PDT
A peace initiative will be taking off from Jerusalem this November, and there's not much question about this one getting off the ground. It's a banner from the Jerusalem International YMCA's Peace Preschool, which is to head for the international space station aboard NASA's space shuttle.

Peace Preschool's 120 students are split about evenly between Jews and Muslims, and teachers there call the school a model for good interfaith relations in a city that's known for religious conflict.

The 30- by 50-inch banner, shaped like a spaceship, reads "Christian, Muslim, and Jewish children shooting for the stars." It also bears two hearts, representing Archie Harte, a former general secretary of the Jerusalem YMCA who in 1924 donated much of the money to construct the Byzantine-style YMCA building, one of Jerusalem's most recognizable modern structures.

An American relative of Harte's is married to Randolph Bresnik, an astronaut who will fly on the November shuttle mission, preschool director Adena Levine said Wednesday. Bresnik plans to take photos of the banner floating inside the space station and the picture would be displayed at the preschool, she said.

"We try to do everything in our power to get people together, to make a better future," Levine said, "and what's better for that than shooting for the moon?"

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