Summer 5773/2013

Dear Friends of Makom Bagalil,

We are preparing for an important transition here at the Galilee Foundation for Value Education:

About a year ago I told our board that I felt it was time for the foundation to begin to seek a younger, more dynamic professional leader - and that it was time for me, at 66, to begin to think about a new phase in my own life and activity.  They began a serious search, interviewed a number of candidates, and offered the position to Nir Topper.  Nir lives in nearby Yuvallim, is 40 with two kids, is currently working for the JDC, coordinating the Israeli version of ''Teach for America,'' has spent three years in the US as a youth worker for Young Judea and the Israeli scouts, and has served as an advisor to the director general of the ministry of education.  I have now spent a lot of time with Nir, and am really impressed, and pleased with the choice.  He is smart, personable, energetic, experienced, and fully committed to our vision.  He will officially begin on Oct. 1; in the meantime, we are meeting regularly, and he is observing programs, and meeting with staff and board, so that he will be able to hit the ground running. 

I will remain as an active board member, as involved as the board and staff want me to be (as a volunteer), helping with resource development, educational planning, and teaching/facilitating as needed.  It is not simple for a small organization to transition to a new leader when it has had only one executive director throughout its 20-year history.  However I believe that we have done the process professionally, and that the transition will yield a reaffirmation of our vision - and the beginning of a period of new creativity and growth.

It's too early for farewells.  Meanwhile, I want to thank all of you -  friends, customers, and donors - for your support, and to encourage you to stay tuned, and stay involved, as we move onward and upward.

Best wishes for a pleasant summer. 

Rabbi Marc J. Rosenstein, director

Pluralism in practice

A year ago, a local educator and secular humanist rabbi, Dubi Avigur, approached us with the idea of producing a pluralistic festival of Jewish learning on the theme of Judaism and social justice.  Tova Sacher of our staff took on the challenge, and spent the year building and shepherding a coalition of communities and organizations from around our part of the Galilee (academic, secular, pluralistic, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, including the Hartman Institute, Gandel Institute, and the Midrasha at Oranim)festival opening, each of whom brought human resources and an audience to the table.  ORT Braude College in Karmiel donated the use of their beautiful and well-equipped campus.  The event, held on May 31, was a great success - nearly 200 participants, a rich and truly pluralistic selection of lectures and classes (featuring both local teachers and several well-known public intellectuals), a festive atmosphere, and positive local media coverage.  All of the partner organizations went home smiling, ready to reconvene to begin planning a bigger and better ''Festivalimud'' next year.


Circus and life

The Galilee Circus is a youth circus comprising 70 Jewish and Arab children and teens.  Its very existence (now ten years) - not to mention its impressive performances before a wide variety of audiences - conveys a powerful message about trust, and communication, and courage.  But wait, there's more: From the beginning, an important feature of the circus was the active parents' committee.  The committee helps support the circus, but mainly sponsors social activities for the families of the performers.  A highlight of the year is always the annual spring outing, usually involving a hike, water, and, of course, food. 

This year we went to Nahal Hashofet park.  While a committee of parents chopped vegetables and fried felafel, the kids and many other family members took a hike along (and in) the stream.  Then they all came back and filled their plates and spread out at the tables and on the mats.  Nothing out of the ordinary - except that, like the circus itself, this relaxed sharing of a summer afternoon, Arab and Jewish families together, happens to be extraordinary in the extreme.

But then, that's what circus is all about: demonstrating that what you thought was surely impossible - is really possible after all.

In August, 16 performers will be departing for two weeks in Oldenburg, Germany, guests of Seifenblase Circus School there.  The two circuses will learn - and perform - together.

In case you missed the video of highlights from our final joint show with Circus Poehaa in Holland in April, here it is again:



Dugrinet - Another scoop

We are proud that once again, a a feature appearing in Dugrinet, our Hebrew-Arabic website, has been picked up by a national newspaper.  Recently, a Dugrinet piece on the new policy of the interior ministry to assign street addresses in Arab villages served as the basis for a report in Ha'aretz.  While the primary purpose of Dugrinet is to provide a platform for communication and joint action among all the residents of the Galilee, we are happy also to serve as a window on the region and its issues, for the whole country.

To get an idea of what Dugrinet covers, you're invited to visit our  monthly blog in English, containing highlights and summaries of current content.  Comments and inquiries welcome.


As of right now, we have reservations from 40 groups of North American and British visitors, totalling 1,500 participants, for our ''Neighbors'' encounter program, between July 1 and August 8.  Most groups will meet teens from Dir El Assad and Nahaf, two villages just across the highway from Karmiel.  The kids are looking forward with anticipation and some trepidation to this rather intense English immersion.

For our staff members who serve as facilitators for these programs, the ''down time'' between encounters will not be ''down'' at all, as we are starting two new curriculum projects in partnership with the Melton Centre - for schools in Australia and South Africa; and we are putting the finishing touches on a textbook manuscript for Behrman House Publishers.

Be a partner

About 40% of our income comes from our projects - from seminars,  lectures, circus performances, and creation of educational materials; we are engaged in a constant effort to increase this activity.  If your organization is planning a trip and would like to participate in one of our programs, we'd be happy to help in the planning and make a proposal.

And 60% comes from contributions - most of them by individual supporters who share our vision of what needs to be done here to make this a sustainable society.  We welcome your support large or small, for general operations for for specific projects.  Check out Mitch Friedman's bar mitzvah project, for example.  We acknowledge gifts in honor of persons or events - bar/bat mitzvah honorees receive a photo collage of the Galilee Circus.  We also are happy to provide packets of our Chava Alberstein note cards to donors.

Questions or special requests - mail us at  For instructions for contributing by check or on-line, click here.

Another way to partner with us is to volunteer here, long- or short-term. We have had a number of great experiences with volunteers; if you're interested, let us know.

What we do

Galilee Circus - 70 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.

Galilee Diary

Rabbi Rosenstein's weekly "Galilee Diary" on life in the Galilee is available on-line. 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.

Scholar in Residence
Contact us if you are interested in Rabbi Rosenstein speaking in your community during the High Holy Day season this year