Galilee Circus


Can the Circus Save the World?

In a world – and a region – where fear and distrust between peoples lead to insecurity and violence daily, it just might be that a circus can make a difference! After all, what is circus all about? It's about overcoming fear, it's about trust, it's based on non-verbal communication, it represents a multicultural tradition – and its purpose is to make people smile.

The late Australian circus artist and educator Reg Bolton has written about “circus to save the world.” When you see the child of Russian immigrants from Karmiel balancing on the shoulders of his Arab peer from Deir al-Assad – you know exactly what he means. When the kids stop the music at the curtain call of their first show to say – in Hebrew and in Arabic – “The Galilee Circus family thanks you…” you understand that this not just another after-school activity. These kids come on their own time (from different communities, different religions, speaking different languages), they commit themselves, and they understand that they have to do what they do in complete cooperation with ''The Other'' – or they will do nothing at all.   Galilee Circus founder Rabbi Marc Rosenstein has written about the reasons for a circus in the Galilee in Circus in a Frayed Tent; see the side bar to the right for further details and acknowledgement.

Circus will not bring peace to the Middle East. But it can help to make dialogue possible by reducing fears, lowering barriers, and building trust. It can provide a model of a shared loyalty that transcends ethnic identities. It can teach the art of taking risks for the common good. It can demonstrate, to a wide audience, that what appears to be impossible is indeed possible. None of these may be sufficient to bring about the requisite social change, but without them, no change is possible.


The Galilee Circus includes 80 kids of ages 6-18, Arab and Jewish, from the towns and villages around Karmiel in the heart of the Galilee. Rehearsals are held after school in a community center gym, and we perform all over the region for schools, festivals, businesses, etc. The circus has an active parents' committee that helps out at performances, and organizes occasional social activities for the circus kids and their families.

Michal Halel Abulafia is our circus arts coach, assisted by youth counselor Ahmed Sanallah and occasional visiting coaches in aspects of circus and theatre.  A number of our alumni have received training in peer coaching, and have joined the coaching staff as volunteers and role models, and even as part time paid coaches.

The fees paid by the participants – and the audiences – cover only a small part of the cost of travel, rent, and equipment. If you can help with these costs please consider donating here.   You can also link your bar/bat mitzvah to the circus!

You don't have to run away from home to be a part of the Galilee Circus!

Peace Through Pyramids

Peace Through Pyramids is a collaboration between the Galilee Circus and St Louis Arches, a diverse youth circus troupe based at Circus Harmony in St Louis, Missouri, USA.

The partnership began in 2007, with St Louis Arches visiting us, which they repeated in 2010 and 2014, whilst we visited them in 2008 and 2012.   We returned to St Louis in the summer of 2016.

Peace Through Pyramids has been the subject of a critically acclaimed book, Watch Out for Flying Kids! by Cynthia Levinson.   

You can find out more about our visits to the St Louis Arches, and their visits to us, and see pictures and videos, through our Circus archive here.

You can also read more about the partnership on the website of Circus Harmony, here.

A documentary about us made as part of Docu-Village, a local film-making project in Ma’alot

Support Galilee Circus

  • $750 will sponsor a single participant in the Galilee Circus for a year.
  • $15,000 will sponsor a group of 15 participants in the Galilee Circus for a year.
  • $75,000 will fund the entire Galilee Circus for a year.

To donate in New Israeli Shekels or Sterling click here!

To find out more options, click here!


Galilee Circus and St Louis Arches book!

Watch Out for Flying Kids is a wonderful book by our friend, the acclaimed author Cynthia Levenson.   It is full of hope and emotion, a worthwhile read for children and adults alike, showing what may be achieved when two youth circuses come together and build trust - within and between them.

Not only that, but 10% of the profits made on the books is being donated to us! 

You can order a copy now on Amazon, or click here to read more about the book and it's author, Cynthia, who is one of our biggest supporters!

Feature about the Galilee Circus on HOT 3 Cable Channel

Circus in a Frayed Tent

Our emeritus Executive Director, Rabbi Marc Rosenstein, founded the Galilee Circus in the fall of 2003.   In a recent book article, Circus in a Frayed Tent , Marc tells the story of the Galilee Circus, its challenges and achievements, and sets it in the historical and immediate context in Israel.  

You can read the full article here.

Circus in a Frayed Tent was originally published in Coexistence and Reconciliation in Israel: Voices for Interreligious Dialogue (Ron Kronish, editor) New York, Paulist Press, 2015, pp. 215-225.   We are grateful to Ron Kronish and to Marc Rosenstein for their kind permission to reproduce it here.

Trailer for "Circus Kids" (2010), a film about the shared passion of the Israeli and American kids of our circuses

Circus practice

Reg Bolton

We have found the writings of the late circus artist and teacher Reg Bolton to be inspirational in our work. You can explore them here.

Galilee Circus