Visit to Salem on Hanuka Eve

Friday. The day of the first candle of Hanukah Jewish feast. We are on the way to Salem village with Carin (an Australian young woman who helps us to develop the music project there). It is nice to go there on the day of the first candle. Visiting our friends and developing the next step of the children music center there, feels like lighting a candle.

It is just that on the way we’ve planned to visit another friend in Yasouf village, and buy some olive oil from him. Just before entering his village he called us on phone to tell us not to come because some settlers had “lit a Hanuka candle” their way by burning the Mosque of the village. Just two different ways to light a candle.

Not much of a joy accompanied us along the rest of the day. The only strength we’ve felt was the strength of the unconditional friendship between ourselves and with our Palestinian friends.

Here is a video about the music center, prepared by Natti Adler:

Here is Carin’s description of the visit as posted on her “Looking for Shalom” blog:

You know what? I am exhausted. It feels like I never stop. My journeys into the West Bank are long and tiring. But what can I say? I am addicted. And today was a particularly special day. I would not have missed it for the world. I went to a place where I personally feel part of the peace efforts, and where many of you are personally part of the peace efforts.

I went to Salem, a Palestinian village in the northern part of the West Bank, around 2km from the major city of Nablus. I joined two kibbutzniks, Erella and Ehud, from the Villages Group for their weekly family visits. The main reason we went to Salem was to visit Jubier Ishtayya, a local musician and teacher who is starting a music centre with your help.

Erella met Jubier a few years ago. They connected over a common dream to create peace through music. Well, peace is actually the word I chose. Erella and Jubier are more grounded than that. They do not have any grandiose ideas about peace. Instead, they believe in the transformative power of music. They believe that music is a tool for developing creative minds, rather than destructive ones. The music centre will be a place of learning, artistic expression and concerts; a centre for healing and hope.

I met Ehud, Erella and Jubier earlier this year and I was blown away. Not by the idea of the project, that was not new to me, but by the spirit, the energy and the relationship between these three people. Their idea was well thought out, realistic, and targeted at a particularly vulnerable group: boys and girls in their late teens, living in extreme conditions, with few employment opportunities, and nothing to do in the afternoons. The centre will start small, but they have big plans for the future.

And the dream was made possible because of support from many of you. So tonight, even YOU can put smiles on your faces. The music center will open in January, half the students will be girls and half boys. The head of the village has provided the space and political support for the project.

It is wonderful to feel part of a concrete project on the ground; particularly one that I so strongly believe in. This gives me hope. And I promise, before I finish this journey, I will provide you with plenty more ideas for how you can stay engaged.

20 days to go…
Images of the Salem Music Center can be found here.

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