Dear Friends of Makom Bagalil,
Here we are again in ''memory season'' in the Jewish calendar, between Holocaust Memorial Day and Israeli Memorial Day/Independence Day. And yet, as fraught as this week is, the news about the various ceremonies and observances, and features about history and memory, have to compete for front page space with the dismal everyday items of violence, injustice, and corruption - local and national. Which brings to mind one of the central tensions in Zionism: Do we want to be ''a people that dwells apart,'' or ''a nation among the nations?'' Do we want redemption, or normalization? Is the point of this whole exercise to become, finally, like everyone else, or is it to show the world the way to redemption? Is a Jewish state first of all about Jewish sovereignty, or is it first and foremost about Jewish values?
Our understanding of the message of the biblical prophets is that our survival as a state is dependent on the values that characterize that state; that a society without justice - and without mercy - will ultimately implode. So if we want a normal life, we will have to behave better than normal. And it turns out that quietly, out of range of those dismal headlines, there are a lot of individuals and organizations here working at ''repairing the world'' by repairing Israeli society. We are proud to be among them. It is sisyphian work, but it has its satisfactions. Thank you for being part of it.
Best wishes for a Happy Independence Day!
Rabbi Marc J. Rosenstein, director
The Circus is Coming to Town
The Galilee Circus will be performing quite a bit in the next few months - you can catch them in their home base in Ba'aneh in the Galilee, or in Modi'in - or Philadelphia or St. Louis or Nashville. Here are tentative performance dates; contact us for details - or to order a show.
- In Ba'aneh: May 1, 3, 13, 16; June 3, 21, 25; July 3
- In Modi'in, as part of Limud Modi'in: May 18
- In Philadelphia: July 18-22
- In St. Louis with the St. Louis Arches youth circus: July 23 - Aug. 5
- In Nashville with the St Louis Arches: July 30-31.
To help the St. Louis Arches' ''Kickstart'' campaign to raise funds for this trip - click here - please! We are most grateful for the efforts of the Circus Harmony Foundation in St. Louis, and an interfaith coalition of churches and synagogues in Philadelphia, for making our US trip possible.
Other circus news:
As our part in World Circus Day (sponsored by Federation Mondiale du Cirque) we held a circus family evening to bring the circus kids' families together, to preview our new show, and to bid farewell to circus coordinator Shiri Horesh, who recently moved out of the area. One of the aspects of the Galilee Circus of which we are most proud is our active parents' committee - there aren't a lot of Jewish-Arab parent committees in this country - and that pride was justified by the high attendance and wonderful spirit of this evening.
Feel free to check out the new face of Dugrinet (as promised in our last newsletter). The site has been redesigned to have a crisper look and to be more user-friendly, and contains several new features, including a guide to free sites and cultural programs in the region. And once we get the bugs out, it will include a clickable map of the Galilee, for finding articles and information by location. Congratulations to the Dugrinet staff: Hedva Livnat, Smah Basoul, and Tali Eisner, on this exciting milestone.
We are gratified by the success of the site in attracting participants from every part of the Galilean mosaic - left and right, Arab and Jew, persons with special needs, students and teachers, religious and secular; we have over 60 bloggers and the number keeps growing. A truly pluralistic on-line community.
Sorry, at this point the site is only in Hebrew and Arabic; we'd love to add English, but that's beyond our current resources.
Here's a survey of our recent and current local programs:
- A peripatetic bet midrash in Zippori National Park, in which the texts helped us understand the stones - and the stones helped us understand the texts.
- An evening with painter Ruth Ben-Dov, on her series of works relating to Terezin artist Malva Schalk and Hassidic rabbi Kalonymos Shapira (''The Esh Kodesh'').
- A tour of archaeological sites - ancient synagogues - Hirbet Kur and Hirbet Hamam, with archaeologist Dr. Motti Aviam.
- A study session on Hassidic texts as part of a seminar sponsored by Enosh - an organization working with people coping with mental illness.
- In the context of our participation in the ''Jewish Spirit in the Galilee'' coalition - an evening devoted to Judaism and ecology; and a Tikkun Leyl Shavuot now in the planning stages.
Can We Help You?
About 40% of our budget is derived from direct income from programs and services that we provide. We are eager to expand this work, and would be happy to respond to inquiries regarding our areas of expertise:
- Educational tourism in the Galilee: study tours and interactive programming at specific sites, as well as overall planning of educational tours and seminars.
- ''Neighbors'' encounters with local Israeli Palestinian Arabs (at the moment we have 22 groups booked for July, so hurry...)
- Galilee Circus performances/workshops.
- Curriculum development; we are interested in adapting the curriculum on Judaism and ecology we prepared for the Bialik School in Melbourne for other communities. Our teacher in-service curriculum on ''teaching Israel'' is now available free, on-line. We are currently working on a course on prayer for middle school, for an American publisher.
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 www.dugrinet.co.il, 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.
Feel free to forward this offer to friends who might be interested!