Dear Friends of Makom Bagalil,
The Talmud hints at an alternative origin for Chanukah (in Avodah Zarah 8a), telling that when Adam saw the days getting shorter and shorter in December, he feared the world was coming to an end, and fasted and prayed for eight days; the solstice came, and the days began to lengthen, and he realized the phenomenon was cyclical, so he declared an eight day feast.
It is easy to get drawn into a rhetoric of despair when we look around us at what often feels like an overwhelming tide of dark forces, from within and without the Jewish state. Every day it seems there is a new existential threat - Iran's bomb, Syria's chemical weapons, Egypt's instability, Hezballah's rockets, Israel's class and ethnic divisions, anti-democratic forces in our own political scene...
From Adam's experience we learn an important Chanukah message: when the dark tide rises, light a candle. And tomorrow, light two. And then three... until the miracle occurs.
Here on our hillside in the Galilee, we are trying to be the shamash, lighting candles all around us - of understanding, of listening, of tolerance, of civility, of social responsibility, of justice, of hope.
Our staff and board wish all our friends a happy Chanukah.
Rabbi Marc J. Rosenstein, director
We are most appreciative of the material support we have received from many friends in the course of the past year. Two thirds of our budget is covered by contributions, and maintaining and expanding what we do depends on maintaining and expanding that philanthropic income. If you are considering end-of-the-tax-year donations, we would like to offer ourselves as a candidate. Supporting our projects means partnering with us in realizing a vision of Israel as a better place.
For instructions - and a link to make a US tax deductible contribution on line - click here.
Window on the Galilee
Dugrinet, our Hebrew-Arabic website, still dreams of someday being trilingual, bringing the fascinating reality of life in the Galilee to a world-wide audience. In the meantime, we have begun to post a monthly blog in English, containing highlights and summaries of current content. Comments and inquiries welcome. We'd also be happy to hear from volunteers interested in translating Hebrew or Arabic articles for posting in English.
In addition to its presence in the virtual world, Dugrinet continues to conduct programs in the real Galilee as well. Most recently, a tour conducted by Arab and Jewish environmental activists, to study the fascinating process by which a change in environmental consciousness is being introduced into village culture - symbolized, for example, by a proliferation of back-yard composters.
We recently produced, for the tenth year, our two-day simulation program for the 10 classes of seventh graders at Misgav regional school, at the historical sites of Yodfat and Zippori. At Yodfat, students experience stations that bring to life the first major battle in the Great Revolt against Rome (where Josephus surrendered). Highlights include the assembly and firing of a model Roman catapult, and a trial of Josephus. At Zippori, where the population surrendered to the Romans, students explore the rich contribution of this mixed city to Jewish tradition and culture. Never have the dilemmas of the past been so present.
Our staff at Yodfat, in costume and still smiling as they await the arrival of 300 seventh graders:
Now we are heavily engaged in preparing for our annual ''Israel Society'' seminar for 450 tenth graders from the Reali School in Haifa. Ten different itineraries of encounters and activities over three days, in three geographic clusters - Acco, Misgav, and Karmiel. This production has increased in scope and complexity every year, requiring many hours and days of preparation. But it seems to be worth it.
What are we doing here?
To give you a sense of the variety of our activities, here is a look at our calendar for December:
Dec. 2 Lecture on Chanukah at Karmiel Senior Citizens Center.
Dec. 5 Galilee Circus Parents evening.
Dec. 10 Neighbors encounter and circus workshops for international dance academy from Kibbutz Gaaton.
Dec. 11 Galilee Circus family Chanukah party.
Dec. 12 Neighbors encounter for ''Teach for America'' seminar.
Dec. 13 Presentation of interactive educational game for Shelomi youth hostel, to national Youth Hostel Association leadership.
Dec. 13 Galilee Circus performance for handicapped children, in Herzliyah.
Dec. 20 Full day field seminar for Netzer gap year students, on the mosaic of communities in the Galilee.
Dec. 21 Mobile Bet Midrash: Tiberias, with a focus on texts relating to women.
Dec. 24-31 Intensive seminar for Galilee Circus staff and kids, with a delegation from Circus Poehaa, Arnheim, Netherlands.
Dec. 24-26 Field seminar for 450 tenth graders from the Reali High School in Haifa, on dilemmas in israeli society.
Dec. 25 Galilee Circus performance for North American synagogue group.
Dec. 27 Neighbors encounter for North American synagogue group.
Dec. 28 Dugrinet tour to Yechiam and Tarshicha in the footsteps of a recent documentary on the two communities in the War of Independence.
Not shown: Galilee Circus practice (four afternoons a week), and two weekly classes in Gandel (Melton) adult education institute.
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!