Dear Friends of Makom Bagalil,
A key phrase in Megilat Esther is the simple statement ''venahafoch hu'' - ''and it was reversed.'' Haman's plot was undone, what seemed inexorable was stopped. This reversal of fate is the source of the deep joy of the holiday - and of the customs of reversing just about every expectation and hierarchy of everyday life: In costume, we change our identity; with alcohol, we change our perceptions and behavior; with satire and burlesque we mock the things we respect. And then we pack away the costumes and wash off the grease paint and take an aspirin for the hangover and get back to routine for another year.
However, a residue of optimism remains. Purim reminds us that nothing is inexorable, that while the odds may seem against us, we are not powerless. Mordecai lobbied the queen. The queen took a risk. And the course of history was reversed. When the reality around us is discouraging, we can play it safe and do nothing (well, except complain); or we can take a risk and do something.
So you can see Purim as an escape from reality - or as a reminder of our responsibility for the reality around us.
Chag Purim Sameach!
Rabbi Marc J. Rosenstein, director
Dugrinet, our Hebrew-Arabic website, recently published a report by residents of Nofit, a suburban community near Haifa, about a planning conflict between Jewish and Bedouin residents. The story was picked up by national newspaper Haaretz, appearing in the weekend magazine last week, with credit to Dugrinet. The English version was published today, though not yet on-line. An English editorial during the week summarizes the issue. We are, to say the least, proud!
We're also pleased to announce that Dugrinet has received a grant from the new Safed medical school, in partnership with Al-Manal, a local foundation serving the Arabic-speaking special needs population, to operate a women's leadership training program in the Arab community, to foster public awareness of health issues - and services.
Dugrinet is only bilingual (Arabic and Hebrew); but we are posting a
monthly blog in English, containing highlights and summaries of current content. Comments and inquiries welcome.
A grant from the Anna Lindh Foundation, which fosters cultural projects around the Mediterranean, is funding a training exchange between the Galilee Circus and Circus Poehaa of Arnheim, Holland. Six trainers and performers from Poehaa spent a wonderful week here in December, focusing on training in the theatrical aspects of circus, and together with them we presented two public performances that drew SRO crowds, who had a great time. See a video that captures highlights of the visit - on the right-hand side of this page.
After Pesach, seven of our coaches and performers will be hosted by Poehaa for a week, to continue the partnership.
This week we completed a very interesting project with the Reali High School in Haifa. The school asked us to help them prepare and produce a full day seminar on Jewish identity and pluralism for their 450 11th graders, as preparation for a scheduled encounter program in a few weeks, which will bring them together with Orthodox peers. Most often, schools bringing in an outside contractor for informal education programming leave all the work to the provider. In this case, however, the model was different: the school scheduled a full day in-service to prepare: all 13 homeroom teachers, two students from each class, and 13 facilitators provided by us gathered to study and prepare together, so that the seminar itself was planned and executed as an equal partnership among students, teachers, and outside facilitators. The seminar was deemed a great success by all involved, and it was clear that the investment paid off. Now we hope we'll have the opportunity to apply this method to other schools in the future.
We are pleased to announce that both of our senior educators, Tova Sacher and Sigalit Ur, have begun doctoral programs in Jewish studies this year, at Haifa and Tel Aviv Universities, respectively.
All together now
We are excited about developments in our new venture, ''Festivalimud,'' a day of pluralistic Jewish study on the topic of social justice, scheduled for May 31. We have assembled so many partners - local and national organizations representing every denomination - that there isn't room for all the logos on the publicity. ORT Braude College in Karmiel will host the event on their campus. So far we are doing this without a budget, and already have more quality volunteer teachers and speakers than we have hours in the day.
If Purim's here...
...can summer be far behind (with apologies to Robert Browning)?
We have begun to accumulate orders from summer tour groups wishing to experience our ''Neighbors'' encounter program with local Arab teens and college students. Program coordinator Ofer Lior has been meeting weekly with groups of kids in Dir El Assad and Nachaf, to prepare them for the summer onslaught. And in the meantime, they are hosting a trickle of off-season guests, including, in the next few weeks, students from Hebrew Union College, Harvard Law School, and the Kehilla School of Palo Alto.
We are very appreciative of the response to our end-of-the-year appeal for financial support, which pushed us into the black for 2012. Thanks very much!
Now here we are in a new year with a new budget, new ideas, and of course the ongoing need for basic support of our programs; so if you missed the chance to contribute in December, don't despair - it's never too late. Just click here.
Note that contributions to the Galilee Circus make nice bar/bat mitzvah gifts; the honoree receives a circus photo collage.