I had thought I was past the age of chaperoning teen tours, but I just got back from accompanying twelve performers from the Galilee Circus on a three-week visit to the US - five days in Philadelphia and two weeks in St. Louis. And it was a wonderful experience.
In Philadelphia we were hosted by an interfaith coalition, in which the Jewish Community Relations Council, Main Line Reform Temple, and the Episcopal Diocese were the lead partners. Others involved were the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, the American Gymnastics Center, and Temple University Gymnastics Department. A lot of people put in a lot of effort (and funds) to make the visit a success, and it was, as the kids felt like stars, and showed what they can do, on stage and off, as models of intergroup cooperation and harmony.
In St. Louis we were hosted by Circus Harmony, our long-time partner; Jessica Hentoff, executive director, has been the driving force behind this partnership since its inception. Here too, many people were involved, as donors, hosts, drivers, chaperones, coaches, etc. After two days of intensive practice, the St. Louis Arches youth troupe, together with the Galilee Circus, put together a joint show and took it on the road to a variety of venues, from urban sidewalks to the big top of a professional circus (we were a guest act). Once again (this is our fourth collaboration), working witht the St. Louis Arches was not only fun, but provided us with a major injection of energy, new skills, new friends, and real circus experience. The Arches comprises a mixture of kids of different races and socio-economic backgrounds; together the combined troupe is a quite a model of diversity.
Altogether there were about two dozen performances throughout the tour, which means a lot of schlepping of equipment in very hot weather, and being ready, and ''on'' with a smile whether you felt like it or not. The kids were terrific - calm, mature, appreciative of the amazing gift they were receiving, open to every experience and challenge - and conveying a message of cooperation and mutual respect everywhere they went, loud and clear. Everyone who saw them, performing or even just hanging out, was impressed and moved by their grace and their commitment. It was a privilege to accompany them and to bask in the glow...
We owe a debt of thanks to our own staff, Dagan and Ahmed, to Jessica, and to the many others who were part of this effort in Philadelphia and St. Louis. We look forward to continuing and developing both of these partnerships ''down the road.''
Marc Rosenstein, Director
Galilee Foundation for Value Education