Kislev 5772, December 2011

Kislev, 5772
December, 2011

Dear Friends of Makom Bagalil,
So the Iranians are cooking uranium and the Hezbollah is accumulating rockets, and the Middle East is in turmoil around us on every side. What is to be done? It seems there are quite a few people who know - or who think they know. We here at the Galilee Foundation for Value Education do not presume to be among them. We know just one thing: that the common wisdom has it backwards - it is not the external threats that prevent us from dealing with our internal conflicts, but our internal conflicts that weaken and even paralyze us when we come to address those external threats. We know that a sustainable Israel is one in which there is social cohesion and shared culture and common citizenship, where the centripetal forces are stronger than the centrifugal ones, where people listen to each other and care about each other and believe that their personal interests are tied up with the interests of the state and not at odds with them. We know that Zionism is not just re-heated romantic nationalism, but tikkun olam.

And if not now, when?

We hope you enjoy this update; we appreciate your interest and your support. Feel free to tell others about our work.

Best wishes for a happy Chanukah.

Rabbi Marc J. Rosenstein, director

An important aspect of the Galilee Circus is its visibility: it is not just an after-school club for Jewish and Arab kids to get together and juggle and do acrobatics, breaking barriers and fears and creating a shared identity; it is showing the world that such a thing is possible. Circus is about performance, about the smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd. We are excited to report that we have been getting a lot of attention lately, thus fulfilling our mission to show the world what can be:

  • At the recent, prestigious ''Doc-Aviv Galilee'' film festival in Ma'alot, the opening film was a short documentary about the Galilee Circus, made by a local team in a documentary workshop project. The circus kids performed, live, in the lobby of the Ma'alot Culture Center before the screening.
  • ''Circus Kids,'' Alexandra Lipsitz's feature-length documentary on our partnership with the St. Louis Arches circus, has been invited to the Jewish Film Festival at Jerusalem Cinematheque later this month. Click here to watch a trailer.
  • This week, the Galilee Circus was featured on the youth magazine ''23 Minutes'' on Israeli Educational Television (in Hebrew). Shai Ben-Yosef and Hala Assadi were interviewed, and spoke beautifully. To watch, click here, wait out the commercials and advance to minute 10:18.
  • Our performance schedule for winter/spring is filling up, and we're working on possibilities of travel to Florida, South Africa and St. Louis - and of holding a mini-festival here with participants from Dutch and German circuses.
  • We've had calls and visits from various circus people from around the world, interested in helping out as volunteer coaches.

On-line - and Live

Our Hebrew-Arabic web magazine, Dugrinet, seeks not only to bring people together in cyberspace by providing news and opinion about life and issues here in the Galilee, but to bring them together in real life, by providing opportunities for cross-cultural and cross-community encounters and learning, and by initiating cooperative social action ventures. Coordinator Hedva Livnat has spearheaded two such projects in recent weeks:

  • An evening on ''Affordable Housing in Misgav;'' as a follow-up to this past summer's outpouring of public concern about economic inequality and particularly housing costs for the middle class, we held a panel discussion on the problems and solutions in our local county, Misgav, where young couples and senior citizens have very few options. The mayor participated, as well as activists and concerned citizens, and a lively discussion took place. We hope that with support from the website, the discussion will continue and lead to policy.
  • A tour to Jewish historical sites in the Galilean Arab city of Shefaram. Today a bustling city with Moslem, Christian, and Druze populations, Shefaram was an important Jewish center in Talmudic times, and included a Jewish population until the 1920s. We met the assistant mayor, visited the synagogue (preserved but not active), and wondered whether our visit was a nationalist symbol or a gesture of interest in our shared past, present, and future.

Educational Tourism Update
Winter highlights:

  • Ofer Lior, coordinator of our ''Neighbors'' program, has set up informal English enrichment groups in the villages of Majd El Kurum, Deir El Assad, and Salameh for the current school year. We have a number of encounters for birthright groups scheduled for the winter, as well as several synagogue and day school tours. Some of these have chosen the ''classic'' structured discussion encounter - others have opted for a performance of the Galilee Circus, followed by informal workshops with the circus performers.
  • One of our favorite projects as a staff is our ''Tale of Two Cities'' field seminar, involving interactive programming at Yodfat and Zippori, two Galilean archaeological sites that teach about the Great Revolt against Rome - and address contemporary dilemmas. We recently provided this program, for the ninth year, to the 250 seventh graders at the Misgav regional school.
  • This will be the fourth year that we'll be producing a Galilean field seminar for 450 10th graders at the prestigious Reali High School in Haifa - this year, two days of ten different itineraries of activities and encounters across the Galilee. It may not be the circus, but our educational tourism coordinator, Sigalit Ur, has to keep a lot of balls in the air over the next few weeks.
  • We are in the midst of planning, in partnership with the Shdemot Center at Oranim College, the third summer Israel institute for BBYO senior staffers, as part of their requirements for an MA degree at Hebrew College (Boston).

And in between these large projects, we continue to receive orders for our tours, simulations and lectures from a wide range of groups. Options include:

  • Lost in Safed - simulation game/tour
  • Silence of Rabbi Yossi - study tour in Zippori
  • Exploring Akko - treasure hunt tour
  • Utopia Now - community-building simulation
  • Pluralism in the Galilee - visits to a variety of communities
  • Lectures on the ''Galilean Mosaic'' and on the ''New Jew.''

All Together Now
For a few years now, Tova Sacher, our coordinator of pluralism programming, has been working on trying to assemble a coalition of the organizations in our area engaged in adult Jewish education. We are pleased to report that definite progress has occurred, and the ''Jewish Spirit in the Galilee'' coalition is up and running. With support from our Partnership 2000 region (Pittsburgh-Karmiel-Misgav) two local study groups have been meeting, in parallel with groups in Pittsburgh - with joint video classes planned for later in the year. And a series of community-wide events is being planned based on our experiments last year. Coalition members include our foundation, Teva Ivri (Jewish environmental education), the Reform and Conservative congregations of Karmiel, the Gandel Institute (Melton Minischool), the Misgav and Karmiel community centers, and one of the Karmiel Orthodox communities.

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 the ''support us'' link above; then send us an email with mailing instructions.

Sample card: