“Here is a place whose atmosphere is peace,
where political and religious jealousies can be forgotten,
and international unity fostered and developed.”

Lord Edmund Allenby, April 18, 1933

Unity In Diversity

The seeds for the Jerusalem International YMCA were sown in the 1920s as the brainchild of Dr. Archibald Harte. Harte worked tirelessly for his vision of an international YMCA branch in Jerusalem that would serve as a bridge between faiths and cultures in the increasingly divided city.
The YMCA had been present in Jerusalem old city since 1878, then, less than a decade after harte’s dream was born, the ‘new’ international YMCA building was dedicated in 1933 by Lord Edmund Allenby.
Harte’s vision was captured in three inscriptions revealed at the dedication: “The Lord our God the Lord is One” in Hebrew, “I am the Way” in Aramaic and “There is no God but God” in Arabic. Indeed, the YMCA celebrates what unites us rather than what divides us.
The Jerusalem International YMCA has been serving the people of Jerusalem for over 133 years, facilitating peaceful coexistence between its communities. Our dedicated administration, staff, and community members reflect the diversity of the city, and live out our vision of “living together.” As politics wax and wane, the Jerusalem International YMCA is a place where all residents of the city can gather, and enjoy culture, education and fitness programs. In recognition of our efforts in promoting peace, understanding and the dignity of humankind, the Jerusalem International YMCA was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.

In addition to these unique attributes, JIY is also part of a network of American YMCAs. Like our sister institutions, we focus on promoting a healthy mind, body, and spirit for all. To that end, we operate on four areas of focus: youth development, social responsibility, healthy living, and culture. Sound interesting? Come see for yourself!

Accepting Others

In 1933, Lord Edmund Allenby attended the dedication of the newly constructed Jerusalem International YMCA complex, and addressed the crowds with the words quoted on this plaque.
These words have greeted every visitor to the YMCA since then. Lord Allenby’s words defined the Jerusalem YMCAs legacy, and have guided our institution since their utterance until the present day.
For over eighty years the YMCA building has been a meeting ground and conference center for people from all backgrounds, and nationalities, coming together to discuss issues of shared concern.
We strive to expand and enrich our services to the local population in all its diversity, and to global seekers of peace and understanding.
Join us in our efforts to create a more peaceful reality in Jerusalem and the Middle East, let us be your home for physical, mental and spiritual development.

A New Narrative

Jerusalem is a place with many divides, social, political, religious, cultural and in education. on every level Jerusalem is a place of tension. However, it really is a place of peace, and it is our role to contribute to the well being of our society, through bringing people together. Bringing these conflicting narratives, and sects together to a place where they can actually realize the humanity in the other. What I have done throughout my life has taught me that hopelessness and helplessness are not options, they simply aren’t.

The YMCA was created to set an example of what Jerusalem can, and should be. I take my life as an example of a successful coexistence story. I’m an Israeli Arab, and not any type of Arab, I am a Palestinian with pride. I grew up in Israel in a Palestinian village and I feel that myself, and a million and a half Israeli Arabs could easily serve as a bridge between Israel and the rest of the Arab world. Because we can’t deny it when you tell me “Keef Halak” in Arabic I say “Beseider al hamdulillah.

Today our vision is to be an international center for reconciliation and leadership development. We aspire to bring a new generation of Palestinians and Israelis to understand the values of shared society, and shared citizenship. Our goal is teach people to accept each other for what they are and to rally them around a mutual goal of bettering their lives together. Those people can then replace the old leaderships that have been fighting each other for decades, and bring about a different narrative, a different psyche. Those built around hope, and justice.

Jerusalem Skyline

The Jerusalem International YMCA building, with its elegant arches, domes and 152-foot observation tower, is a historical landmark that has for decades been a center of cultural, athletic, social, and intellectual life in Jerusalem. In fact, it is the very embodiment of our vision of “living together,” with shared symbolism of the Abrahamic imbuing every corner of the building and calling us to recognize our shared history.

Designed by Arthur Loomis Harmon, the architect of the Empire State Building in New York, the JIY building has been called a “sermon in stone,” because of this very symbolism. The front facade of the building bears quotes in three languages – Hebrew, Arabic and Aramaic – each representing the creed of one of the Abrahamic religions.
The entrance plaza is graced with 12 Cyprus trees to recall the 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 disciples of Jesus, and the 12 friends and supporters of Mohammad. There are 40 pillars and pillars in the recall the 40 years Israelites spent in the desert, and the forty days of temptation. And the blinded angel, the woman with a cask of water carefully balancing her head, and the lamb carved into the tower of the YMCA point to a future messianic age of peace.
Visitors can learn more about the details throughout the building by arranging a tour in advance, guided by one of our knowledgeable staff members.
For a tour, please call Devorah at 054-685-4241.

advocacy & good will

Jerusalem International YMCA needs your help.

Learn how you can help us live our mission, and do our important work in Jerusalem.

To learn more about how you can be part of our legacy, please provide us with contact information and we will get back to you with more information.

Thank you for your generous support!

Or – contact us directly


Fitness Is A Way Of Life

The Jerusalem International YMCA Athletic Department has something for everyone

Swim classes, zumba workouts, weight lifting, team-sports, the best trainers in town and much, much more.

Kids, teens, moms and dads, whatever your age, gender, religious affiliation or custom, we have a welcoming workout environment for you. A healthy body is crucial for a healthy mind & spirit – come try us out!

JIY taught Jerusalem how to swim! Indeed, our fitness center’s pool was the first and only indoor pool in Jerusalem until 1967, and at least once a day someone enters the Athletic Department with a look of nostalgia and stories of decades past. Our membership includes more than a few members who began working out at the YMCA as teenagers and who are now themselves the grandparents of teens.

Body & Mind

Our fitness programs cater to everyone from athletic professionals to those looking for a gentle workout.

Fitness Room – State-of-the-art strength training equipment and cardio machines with personal LCD screens. JIY’s certified, experienced, and professional trainers are here to develop and monitor a personalized workout routine just for you.

Group Exercise – Jerusalem YMCA’s group exercise classes are some of the most popular in Jerusalem, and include coed and unisex options. Never tried our famous Zumba or spinning? You should!


Something For Everyone
The aquatics program includes something for swimmers of every level and interest

Beginners & Advanced Swimmers, The YMCA pool is here for you. Whether you are a beginner, advanced swimmer, or exerciser, we offer classes, competitions, and  open pool times.

An Established Institution. Peering through the doors of the JIY indoor swimming pool with its beautiful mosaics and ceiling stencils you might see toddlers splashing, seniors relieved of arthritis, young children thrilled at their first unassisted swim strokes, handicapped persons liberated  from walkers, competitions, and free swim.

We are deeply invested in providing an opportunity for children and adults of all ages to learn, master and enjoy the ability to swim.

Join The Family

Join our diverse and supportive workout family, and enjoy the benefits:

  • Free parking at in the YMCA garage
  • certified trainers will design your personal exercise program
  • Access to all YMCA facilities, including basketball court, squash court, and pool

Live in Jerusalem? Come in for a Free tour and trial

Get Healthy Be Happy

Live in Jerusalem? Come in for a tour and free class

No commitment, and no strings attached!
Just fill in the form and we’ll contact you to schedule
a tour of our facilities and free class at your convenience.


Jerusalem YMCA Culture
Despite its rich historical and spiritual legacy, Jerusalem remains the poorest large city in Israel. The result in part of years of conflict that have divided Jews and Arabs, this situation has left many communities underserved and in need of cultural, educational and sports programs.
The Jerusalem International YMCA program department strives to fill these gaps by providing a large spectrum of programs. While some programs are aimed at creating dialogue between groups, many simply provide a place for different people with similar interests to come together and meet as individuals in an atmosphere of mutual respect and tranquility.Following is a sampling of our cultural programming. Click on titles to read – and see – more, and consult our schedule to find the events and activities in which you would like to take part!

Art and Exhibitions

The Jerusalem International YMCA itself is an internationally recognized landmark, distinctive and impressive in its architecture as well as the engravings and flourishes that adorn its physical essence and face.
Occasional walking tours and programming point out these architectural and artistic wonders.
So, too, on our walls and ceilings are exemplary paintings of various genres that provide a feast for the eyes and a delight to the artist within at every turn.
The rooms of the building also host special collections and exhibitions.
The JIY provides diverse artistic activities for its members and the general public.
Our programming helps develop aesthetic sensibilities and capabilities in people of all ages and varied backgrounds.

Holidays & Festivals

Christmas, Ramadan, & Rosh HaShana
Holidays form the basis of each religion’s culture and only by getting to know and understand each other’s holidays do we truly accept and become a part of the other’s culture.

The Jerusalem International YMCA takes every opportunity to celebrate the holidays of the three major religions, particularly when they happen to coincide.

We commemorated Nakba Day along with Israeli Memorial Day. We broke fast together at the end of Tisha B’av and Ramadan.

Our Christmas party for orphans brings together Jews, Muslims and Christians to adorn a festive tree and sing holiday songs.

In these intense moments, in solemnity and in joy, we may see and we may feel how much more we have in common rather than what separates us, recognizing shared humanity.

Event Venues

Located at the heart of Jerusalem and walking distance to the eastern and western parts of the city, the YMCA provides the perfect location for conferences, concerts, weddings, workshops and receptions of various kinds. The Jerusalem International YMCA facilities offer the following meeting and recreational spaces:

Mary Nathaniel Golden Hall seating up to 600 people.
Lecture Hall with seating for up to 100 people.
Board Room small group meetings or workshops, 45 people.
Library for one large group or several round table discussions.
Front lawn for outdoor events in good weather.
Historic lobby for informal gatherings.
Sports Center including gym, pool, group exercise classes and fitness room.
World class restaurant warm ambiance inside, pleasant atmosphere outside.
Hotel facilities for out of town guests.

Event schedule

Join our newsletter and event calendar

We’ll send you only updates regarding planned events and festivities
at the Jerusalem YMCA, and nothing else.

Join Our Family

The Jerusalem International YMCA offers its community members between the ages of 1-30 a rich and diverse offering of activities and experiences. The activities are led by the JIY’s professional staff who are experienced in a range of subjects and disciplines.

The youngest members of our community, pre-schoolers and kindergarteners, can find their home at the Lier Peace Pre-School (see side tab), a multicultural gan that employs anthroposophic pedagogy to empower children. In the summer and during holidays, the YMCA continues to provide camps to Jerusalem’s children (ages?) 60 years after the first summer camp was held.

The JIY’s Youth Department contains a range of activities and groups for young adults: multicultural choir, leadership and entrepreneurship training, ACT-TV, and Art for Social Change. All of these activities take place within an environment of multiculturalism and enable meetings between Jerusalem’s diverse groups.

All children and young adults are invited to our take part in our programming irrespective of religion, race, gender, or nationality. Our activities are administered in all languages, under the guidance of professional translators.

Peace Pre-School

Leir Family Peace Pre-School
The Jerusalem International YMCA Peace Pre-school was founded in 1981. Its educational philosophy is child-centered, emphasizing flexibility and freedom of choice, self-experience and self expression of the individual.Teachers respect each child’s needs and individuality and particularly encourage creativity.

The Pre-School is attended by 100 Muslim, Jewish and Christian children, ranging in age from 10 months to 5 years.

Mixed classes , each with two teachers, one Jewish and one Arab (Muslim or Christian), each speaking their own mother tongue. Stories are told alternatively in Arabic and Hebrew, songs are sung in each language, each culture is given equal place and weight in the classroom.

Each class includes children of many different nationalities who speak English and a variety of other languages.

Religious festivals and holidays of the three monotheistic faiths, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, are celebrated together. Emphasis is placed on strengthening each child’s religious identity while at the same time developing an understanding of the significance of the holidays and cultures of others.

Children enjoy music classes, swimming lessons and a variety of other extra activities.

Summer Camp 2015

Science Art Sports Fun in Jerusalem
The most fun to be had for Jerusalem kids this summer. The YMCA summer camp offers something if you like sports & camping, or drama and the stage, or science and inventions. Come enjoy swimming lessons, sports, group fun, art, specialized workshops and much more.
More Information
Register Your Child Now

Each summer the JIY offers 3 sessions of camp over the course of 8 weeks with specialties in performing arts, sports or swimming. We are perhaps the only camp where announcements and directions are given in English, Arabic and Hebrew. Children of all religions and races play together and develop friendships that cross cultural borders.
Consider giving your child this unique experience this summer.We are planning something extraordinary for 2015. A Magical World Voyage that emphasizes adventure and the diversity of the world we share. Click the button below for all the details, and early-bird discounts!

community learn more

Tomorrow’s Leaders

Our Youth Department offers so much, we really think you should check out all of the different programs. Visit our blog for regular updates about our programs.

Jerusalem Youth Chorus – Come sing your heart out. Artist collaborations, and concert tours!

ACTV Video Program – Learn how to tell your story through film and production

Youth Street Theater – Join talented, imaginative and creative teens that want influence and perform.

Visit the Youth Chorus Website

Dialogue & Empathy

Today’s youth are tomorrow’s leaders
We are dedicated to contributing to the formation of ethical leaders for tomorrow by investing in our youth today. Our initiatives nurture a culture of peace in children and teens with a goal of changing mindsets and altering negative stereotypes.

  • Model United Nations
  • YMCA Leir Peace Preschool
  • Summer Camps
  • Dialogue Groups

These programs strengthen young people to inspire and guide.We seek out and invest in youngsters who show potential to lead their generation to change. We empower them to dedicate themselves to public service and commitment to effecting social change. We provide young Israelis and Palestinians with the tools to realize these dreams by training, experience and mentoring.

Peaceful Existence Through Dialogue 

Our dialogue groups enable Palestinians and Israelis to hear one another and to see the conflict through the other’s eyes. Empathy replaces hatred, biases laid to rest, knowledge erases prejudice, and dialogue carves the path to coexistence. These young people will make a difference, and that difference will start here at the Jerusalem International YMCA.

Disocver our programs

Summer Camp Registration is Open, learn more.

  • Preschool +972-2-5692681
  • Summer Camp & Youth Programs +972-2-5692677 youth@ymca.org.il

We will gladly answer any question you have, and invite you for a visit. Just Leave us your contact information and we will get back to you promptly.

Jerusalem International YMCA

Jerusalem International YMCA, 26 King David St. Jerusalem 91002 Israel


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