Mid October 2013

Mid October 2013

Dear Friends of Makom Bagalil,

The date of our gala circus evening in honor of Rabbi Marc Rosenstein is just a few weeks away (Novermber 13), and excitement is building.  We have some outstanding circus artists joining the Galilee Circus for the show at the Karmiel Theater, and the response to our invitation to sponsor the event through the tribute website has been gratifying - thank you!!  And of course it is not too late to join us - either by buying tickets and attending, or by being a sponsor. 

For information about the event, and sponsorship opportunities at all levels, click here.

Meanwhile, our programs continue as you can see from this newsletter.  And of course we are excited to welcome our new executive director, Nir Topper.

Thank you for your interest and support.

Best wishes.

Sue  Reiss, board chair

Meet our new executive director


It has been a few days since i joined the team of the The Galilee Foundation for Value Education as its new director, and I am happy to have this opportunity to share with you a bit about myself.

My name is Nir Topper,  I am married to Rachel Sachs and am the proud father of Shai, 8 and Itamar, 5. We live in Yuvalim, just up the hill from Shorashim.

With over 16 years of background in various educational settings,in  positions ranging from teen counselor and teacher to advisor to the executive director of the ministry of education, I am taking my first steps in the Galilee Foundation with a great sense of responsibility and respect.

We are looking to ensure longtime maintenance and growth of the programs the foundation runs, while enhancing and deepening our impact on Israeli society, in the Galilee and beyond it. I see great importance in enlarging the circles within which the Foundation operates, increasing  the visibility and awareness of the excellent and dedicated work of the Foundation team.

The needs that are addressed by the Foundation's  work - acquaintance with the other, bridging gaps and bringing down barriers and dissipating hate - are as acute and relevant as ever.  The Foundation, its mission and its work, is important to the lives of Jews of different streams in Israel and around the world and to the shared society in Israel and in the Galilee.

I am humbled to be inheriting this incredible opportunity from Rabbi Marc Rosenstein, who has run the Foundation for the last two decades. Marc, with his unique talent, wisdom and creativity has led the Foundation and its team to remarkable achievements and has made my passage into the position as smooth and straightforward as I could ask. He has dedicated much time, thought and patience spending time with me discussing the Foundation and the issues it faces these days.  For this, and for so much more, I am very grateful to Marc and I look forward to continuing our collaboration.

I look forward to receiving feedback and any insights you have that may assist us all in moving forward, towards promoting our mission and achieving our goals.

Thank you to everyone who has been a help and a support to our work - and behatslacha to us all!

Nir Topper

Circus update

We have gotten off to a great start in the new school year, with a large crop of new, young participants; enrollment is at about 80.  And we have a number of performances scheduled in the coming weeks, including three for Federation missions from North America.

Shai ben Yosef, a veteran juggler (the hat guy, to those of you who have seen the show), has received approval from the army to do alternative national service with the circus; so he joins our staff as a coach, marketer, and developer of circus clubs in the region.

Filmmaker Eitan Wetzler accompanied both phases of our exchange with the Poehaa Circus of the Netherlands, as part of the project funded by the Anna Lindh Foundation.  The result is a lovely 30 minute documentary suitable for all audiences - including documentary and Jewish film festivals.  Here's a trailer:


For information, contact us or Eitan.


  • We have begun a study group for local leadership, as part of the Misgav-Karmiel-Pittsburgh Partnership, on Jewish peoplehood - in cooperation with the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education.  Together with our Pittsburgh partners the group will hold a video class as part of the Global Day of Jewish Learning on November 17.
  • We have opened two study groups in the framework of the Gandel Institute for Adult Jewish Study.
  • We have begun a bet midrash series for Milam, an organization supporting families coping with mental illness.
  • Planning for the second annual ''Festivalimud'' pluralistic festival of Jewish learning (May 2014) is already well underway; the wall-to-wall coalition formed last year has proved stable and committed.
  • The textbook we wrote for Behrman House, ''Our Place in the Universe,'' on Judaism and the environment, has gone to press.


  • Our condolences to senior educator Tova Sacher on the death of her father.
  • Our congratulations to adjunct staff member Iman Kadach on the birth of her daughter.

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Still another scoop

Our community bilingual website, Dugrinet, has once again provided the stimulus for a report in the national media, this time about bilingual education (Hebrew-Arabic) and its challenges.  We invite you to read the feature in Haaretz - and to read the essay by Rabbi Haviva Ner David in Dugrinet quoted in it.

Don't run away to the circus...

Just participate in our circus gala on November 13  by attending or by sponsoring - so that others will be able...   to run away to the circus.

What we do

Galilee Circus - 80 kids ages 6-18, half of them Arabs and half of them Jews, who meet to learn and perform circus arts - together.

Pluralistic Bet Midrash - Courses, lectures, festivals, study tours, bringing Jewish texts to bear on current issues.

Dugrinet - a Hebrew-Arabic website serving as a magazine and a platform for shared social action for all the residents of the Galilee

Neighbors - facilitated, structured educational encounters between Jews and Arabs.

Educational tourism - programs providing an authentic cncounter with the people and places of the Galilee.

Educational consulting - curriculum writing, teacher training, support for informal programming in schools.



For useful background information on Arab-Jewish relations in the Galilee, click here.

And for our teacher-inservice curriculum on teaching Israel, published by ''Makom,'' click here.

A note from Rabbi Rosenstein

I will be continuing to write the ''Galilee Diary'' .

A selection of entries from the first eight years of the Diary has been published in book form, and is available from the URJ Press.

I have handed the keys and the email address to Nir Topper, with feelings of satisfaction and optimism; to correspond with me personally, use marcrosenstein@yahoo.com