Tuesday, August 13, 2013
LETS GO TO THE CIRCUS!
LETS GO TO THE CIRCUS! Mark Rosenstein and I never officially met (and no we are not related to each other!) but our professional lives crisscrossed and at different times and in different gilgulim, we each gave so much on behalf of an institution in which we were involved, Akiba Hebrew Academy in Merion, Pa. Mark went on to make Aliyah and I continued to try to do everything I could for Jewish Education and Jewish communities in North America. Through the years, our paths crossed briefly. But this I know, we also share a dream and a vision for our collective future, in addition to our shared stints at one Jewish educational institution. We both just want us to realize that at the end of the day we are all much more alike than different and if we do not learn how to play nicely on the same playground, there will be no playground on which we may play – my words and image, but a shared vision, I think, perhaps, nonetheless. So several weeks ago, again our paths briefly crossed. And for those of you who have been wondering what ever became of Mark, I can fill you in on at least part of his wonderful story as a committed educator, a passionate Jew and a successful professional. Mark has joined the circus! Let me explain. The Galilee Circus is explained in the following way in its brochure: “In the world – and a region – where fear and distrust between peoples lead to insecurity and violence daily, how can the individual make a difference? One way is through the circle. After all, what is circus all about? It’s about overcoming fear, it’s about trust, it’s based on non-verbal communication, it represents a multicultural tradition, it creates a place of shared culture – and its purpose is to make people smile.” Our group from Hartman went to the circus as part of our Arab-Israeli experience and we did smile. Not only that, but they were GOOD! I felt at times like I was at training camp for Cirque d’Soleil hopefuls. The aerial acrobatics and the gymnastics included some very impressive routines. And what is most important was that these routines were based on the complete trust between Arab and Israeli from beginning to end. The Galilee Circus includes kids who are Arab and Jewish aged 6 through 19. This is a project of the Galilee Foundation for Value Education from Moshav Shorashim of which Mark is a part. As the consummate educator that he is, Mark explained that when the kids met, there were definitely negative reactions to each other. But, through trust building exercises, peer work, and a shared goal of creating a circus, that eventually dissipated and wonderful friendships and trusting relationships were formed. Now that is truly an accomplishment! I was thinking of the teaching -- “All of Israel is responsible for each other.” Yes, truly these kids were responsible for each other and trusted that the other would hold on to them and protect their safety as their responsibility while they were jumping through the air, on top of a human pyramid, doing stunts over each others’ bodies, and so on. This became part of the collective culture and individuals made this happen, where they were Jewish Israelis, Arab Israelis, or …. It was indeed a lesson in action, devoid of words. Maybe it is words that get us into trouble. It certainly seems that way. I know I spend a lot of time trying to fix the harm that words do in many venues. What a concept – instead of sitting at tables and negotiating ourselves out of the very corners we get ourselves into, let’s all join the circus. Oh and by the way, the clown was also entertaining. That is the only part I would have a chance of trying out for, as my gymnastics skills are, shall we say, underdeveloped or more accurately never developed!