Shevat 5772, February 2012

Shevat, 5772
February, 2011

Dear Friends of Makom Bagalil,

You are probably receiving this newsletter because you participated in one of our programs, or you have supported our work, or you have corresponded with me about the ''Galilee Diary.'' It occurs to me that many of you may not really know who we are. So here's a little background:

The Galilee Foundation for Value Education was founded in 1992, to conduct educational programs at the Makom Bagalil seminar center at Moshav Shorashim. Over the years, it developed three main program foci: Jewish-Arab cooperation, Jewish pluralism, and Israel-Diaspora relations. Some people find it hard to understand how those three directions relate to each other, but we believe it is just this combination that is our strength: we believe that a sustainable Jewish state is one in which cooperation, listening, and mutual responsibility characterize public discourse and social action. We need to develop a shared culture and shared identity among all Israelis - and a healthy, caring, nuanced, knowledge-based relationship with Diaspora Jewry - if Israel is to survive and to be worthy of being called the Jewish state.

In 2003 the food and lodging component of the seminar center closed, leaving the foundation to focus 100% on programming, using rented facilities as needed, operating out of a modest pre-fab office on Shorashim. We are a staff of eleven, all part-time, including people who identify as Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, secular, and Muslim. We enjoy and believe in our work - indeed several of us left other careers (law, computers, formal education) for the fun, challenge, and low pay of informal education. Our activities are varied (see below) and every day is different - and interesting. We appreciate your interest, and your support - moral and material. Next time you're in the area, stop by for a cup of coffee. Best wishes for a happy Adar!

Rabbi Marc J. Rosenstein, director

Galilee Arches Reunited!
Our wonderful friends at Circus Harmony in St. Louis have once again invited the Galilee Circus to join them for two weeks of joint training and performing this summer. Very exciting! Now both sides have their fundraising work cut out for them. The history: The St. Louis Arches joined us in the Galilee in 2007 and 2010 (see video elsewhere on this page); we visited St. Louis in 2008. Each encounter bumped the Galilee Circus up another notch in quality and professionalism - and perhaps more importantly, helped them see themselves as part of the global circus community - and conveyed our message of optimism and trust to a larger audience.

As we plan the trip, we are considering the possibility of adding a few days en route, in communities east of St. Louis. If you are interested, let us know.

We are pleased to welcome Veronika Avraham, an actress at the Hannover (Germany) State Theater (and a former clown), spending the year in the Galilee, who has offered to help us with theatrics and staging.

We love to perform. If you're coming with a group to Israel, contact us to arrange a show and workshop.

In 2008 we launched, a Hebrew-Arabic web magazine serving the Galilee. The idea was to provide a platform for sharing information and ideas across communal and ethnic boundaries, in an atmosphere of respect - without, if possible, the stridency and nastiness that so often characterize talkback culture. We thought that this was an exciting idea with great potential. We didn't realize how hard it would be to bring it to reality; we didn't realize for how long the professional staff would have to work as volunteers. But they stuck with it, and today the site is alive and interesting, with 10,000 visitors a month, a growing circle of bloggers and one-time contributors, a program of successful events in the community, and even the beginning of an income stream from paid advertising. We are grateful to the United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh for their support - and are pleased to announce a new grant from the Ministry of Culture that will allow us to make a quantum leap forward. Stay tuned for the unveiling of our new site design.

Around the 'hood
One of the pleasures of developing encounter programs for visitors to the Galilee is that we, the facilitators and planners, get to learn about our neighborhood in depth, and meet all kinds of interesting people and organizations. A case in point is the project we just completed, a two-day seminar for the tenth graders of Haifa's Reali School. Our challenge was to create ten different itineraries including encounters with activists and leaders, establishment figures and protesters, youth and adults, Arabs and Jews, in different communities around the Galilee. It was a massive organizational undertaking that ended, it seems from the feedback, very well. The only ''punctures'' (Hebrew slang for snafus) were indeed punctures - two of the buses got flat tires. Meanwhile, our database of interesting persons to talk to and projects to track received a major infusion.

While environmental education is not part of our central mission as an organization, it is hard to be involved in Jewish education today - and to work toward a sustainable Israel - without engaging in the field in some way. For example:

  • We were invited by the Bialik College in Melbourne and the Melton Centre at the Hebrew University to create a curriculum for middle school on our relationship to the environment through the lens of Jewish sources. The result, ''Our Place in the Universe,'' is now being used in the school, and is available for adaptation to other communities' needs. Read more...
  • A pre-Tu Beshvat bet midrash for the faculty of ORT Hatzor high school, on the tension between mastering the earth and tending it.
  • Our traditional Tu Beshvat seder, cosponsored with the Misgav culture department and the community of Moreshet - this year was SRO with a broad spectrum of area residents. Featured performer was actor Golan Azulay; and a good time was had by all.

Chava Alberstein Cards
As mentioned in a previous newsletter, singer-songwriter Chava Alberstein has donated a set of her paintings from her latest CD booklet, to support, our Hebrew-Arabic website. We have converted the paintings into colorful 4 x 6 in. top-fold note cards, and will be happy to send out packets of 8 assorted cards with envelopes, as follows (via air mail):

Contribute $18 - receive one packet of 8; $30 - two packets; $40 - three packets; $50 - four packets

To donate, click here; then send us an email with mailing instructions.

Sample card:

Feel free to forward this offer to friends who might be interested!

Circus practice - new clip!

Galilee Arches tour