Category Archives: Empowerment

World-Class American Jazz Harpist Conducts Workshop at Salem Music Center

On Saturday, October 15th, 2011, American master jazz harpist Park Stickney visited the Salem village Music Center near Nablus. Stickney was in Israel-Palestine to give the opening concert for the new Jaffa Harp Festival. The Festival organizer, harpist Sunita Staneslow and her spouse Fred Schlomka informed Park about the Salem center, and he decided to include it in this – his first – visit to the country.

During his visit at the Center, Park held a two-hour study workshop that opened with a presentation of the harp, a musical instrument new and unfamiliar to both students and teachers.

Most of the workshop was devoted to learning a well-known jazz standard – “Cantaloupe Island”. It was the Center students’ first encounter with this musical style. In teaching the tune, Park was assisted by Center teachers and other musicians, among them Dr. Ruti Katz from the Arts High School in Tel Aviv who has maintained close ties with the Center for the past year, and Josh Smith, a new immigrant from the United States.

Itamar and Noam – both student musicians from the high school who have already visited the Center at Salem several times in the past – also took part in the workshop. In the closing part of the workshop, students at the center played some items from their own repertoire for the guest artist. They were joined by Yusef, the singing barber from Salem and his daughter Shireen (singer and student at the Music Center) in some Palestinian folk singing.

Park’s visit at the Salem Music Center joins a series of visits by musicians from abroad and from Israel. This activity aims to open and widen the musical horizons of the students at the Center, raise public awareness of the existence and activity of this small center and create new ties between the center and its teachers and musicians who show interest in them.

Ehud Krinis

Please Help Palestinian Community Organizer Follow His Dreams

From David and Ehud at the Villages Group:

Hi friends

I am happy to tell you that Ibrahim Nawaja, who has run the Susiya creative and learning center, with great success , for almost a year (see also video below), has been accepted to Dar Al Kalima college (Arabic link) to study Documentary Film Making. This is a great opportunity for him.

For those who know Ibrahim, you know what an exceptional, creative and sensitive person he is and the imagination and dedication with which he approached his role in the Susiya creative and learning center (see attachment).

Ibrahim is from Susiya, a small, rural village in the South Hebron Hills in the occupied West Bank. The area is a difficult one for its Palestinian residents because of the presence of the Israeli settlers and army, and the constant pressure on residents of villages like Susiya to move away from their land. Ibrahim and others have created the Susiya center as part of their attempts to resist this situation and for their community to flourish despite the difficult circumstances. A crucial part of such projects has been the engagement of people like Ibrahim in their communities to imagine something different.

Over the past few years Ibrahim has been writing poetry and running artistic activities such as theatre and improvisation workshops with the children in Susiya, bringing his creative skills in to his role as a community organiser. Ibrahim now has the opportunity now to develop his skills and to be creatively engaging in a new way.

We are trying to raise funds for Ibrahim’s tuition and part of his living expenses since he will have to move to Bethlehem. The overall cost is 3000 euros for a year. We are trying to raise 2000 Euros, and Ibrahim and his family will try and raise the remaining 1000 euros. As you read this mail, people have already pledged 800 Euros in the last few days, which will permit Ibrahim to register and be enrolled for 6 months.

If you want to help you can:

foward this mail to other people who you think want to help Ibrahim.

Give a donation –

You make a check to the “Villages Group” and send it to:

The Villages Group
po box 6023
Tel-Aviv 61060
Israel

Or make a bank transfer to the following account

Bank Name Bank Leumi
Bank Identification Code LUMIILITXXX
Routing Code IL010985
Account Name Villages Group
Account Number 98508670082
IBAN Number IL 67010985-000000-8670082
Bank Address: Ben-Gurion & Rashi, Kiryat Malachi 83036 Israel

If you make a donation, or further information, please contact David or Ehud

The Villages Group email – villagesgroup1@gmail.com
or you can contact David by phone +972-54-6597551

On behalf of the Villages Group

David

Ehud adds:

For the past four years, the on-going aid of US-Omen has enabled us to support about 20 students from South Mt. Hebron each semester. The great majority of these students study at the branch of Al-Quds Open University located in their near home town of Yatta. The cost of the scholarships provided to each of those students, one that covers most of their tuition fees, is 500 Euros (650 Dollars) on average.

As the case of Ibraim’s studies is different and exceptional both in terms of the location of the academic institute and the overall cost, we found ourselves this time in need to bring it to our friends’ attention in a separate appeal.

One of the important aspects of the work of the Villages Group is to strengthen the communities by enabling individuals to develop and realize their abilities for themselves and their communities. This is one of the Villages Group ways of defeating the Occupation – by encouraging inner strength.

Susya Elementary School – Second Year Opens

The local school of Palestinian Susya, founded last year, has opened its second year of activity this month.

On Thursday, September 22nd, we visited and met the school staff: Principal Muhammed, and the four teachers – Amjad, Nizar, Ahmad and Hima. Our expectations and hopes that the Susya school will be growing vigorously and that the number of classes will increase from year to year, have been put aside as of yet: this year, too, there are only four classes (1st through 4th grades). The limited budget allotted to the school by the Palestinian Authority does not enable it to recruit new teachers. Hence, adding classes and expanding the school’s framework are still impossible. The number of pupils remains small – 32 in all.

Parent involvement in the school is highly visible. The school infrastructure has developed greatly with their help: walls were built with doors and windows, replacing the initial tents that collapsed during last winter’s storms. Still, the material circumstances of the school remain very challenging: it is not connected to water and electrical power supply, and lacks toilets and a playground.

The Susya local school’s potential is strong: the teaching staff is dedicated and serious, and the pupils’ achievements have improved considerably, compared with their own progress at previous schools they attended.

We of the Villages Group are very interested in helping the Susya School progress further. Danny, one of our members, has contacted the Al Zahara Elementary School in Tira (Palestinian town inside Israel, 20 km NE of Tel Aviv). This bond has already led to donations of books and study materials in Arabic and English. Moti, another member, contacted several Israelis willing to help the school with donations and equipment for several years. Jessica, a British volunteer, is at present giving the school teachers an English workshop. At the principal’s request, we are now trying to find a volunteer Hebrew teacher for the school’s teachers themselves.

We wish the pupils and teachers of the Susya local school a calm and fruitful school year, and hope to tighten our cooperation with them.

Ehud Krinis
The Villages Group

More from the Salem Music Center: Q&A with the Kids

The Villages Group continues to work closely with Salem’s Music Center, leading to ever-expanding relationships between the Center and the music-education community in Israel.

Below (in reverse chronological order) are descriptions of two visits from Tel Aviv to Salem that took place over the past few weeks. The opposite type of visit is far harder to arrange, although we did manage to pull one such visit off earlier this year.

The June 24 visit (scroll down to the 2nd part of the post) was especially illuminating, since at the suggestion of a Center teacher the visitors asked the students about their feelings and opinions regarding their music lessons and the broader context of childhood under Occupation.

——————– July 7:

Dear All,

On Wednesday, 7 July was a beautiful day to visit the new friends of the center: Ms Nellie who specializes in music and the conflict, Ehud and And Teacher Ruti. We talked about many topics related to the Center at Jubier’s house.

After that we went to the place of training and Ruti has worked to give a great music lesson for kids. We gained a lot of information from the lesson.

These are some pictures of the visit:

With warm regards,

Fadi Eshtayeh

Coordinator of Salem Music Centre.
fadi.ishteh@gmail.com

——————– June 24:

On Friday June 24 we paid another visit to the Salem Music Center. The visit was initiated by music teachers Dr. Ruti Katz of Tel Aviv Municipal Arts High School A, and Dr. Dochy Lichtenstein of Levinsky College of Education, joined by Ram – the high school’s principal, Galit and Orit – lecturers at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Tamar and her son Daniel, Mali and her son Noam, Itamar, and Tal (teacher at the School of Visual Theater, Jerusalem), Erella, Danny, and Ehud of Kibbutz Shoval (members of the Villages Group). Itamar, Noam and Daniel are about to start 10th grade. Itamar and Noam study music at the Arts High School.

The encounter began as Amid (a teacher at the Music Center) led a fun warm-up for all present – pupils and guests. Later, all the music students played a song together – “Katyushka” – chosen by the Salem teachers. Then the song “Kol Dodi” was taught.

Both were performed instrumentally.

After the children of the Music Center played some of their own repertoire, we sat in a large circle and a conversation ensued. Amid suggested that we ask questions, and then Salem children would have their turn.

Here are some of the questions and answers that were heard:

Ruti: How do you feel about our visits?

A student responded that they feel better with the present visit. Other children agreed, nodding.

Ruti: Why did you decide to study music?

  • Because I love music.
  • Because I can express myself through music.
  • I love music but also, beside the Music Center there are no activities for us in the village.
  • At the Music Center we can meet other people.
  • I heard the kids playing instruments so I wanted to as well.
  • Because of the company of other kids.
  • Because it fills up my free time.

Ruti: I understand that some of you study music because it’s the only option. Imagine you could also have theater classes. What would you choose?

Various children answer simultaneously – we would still choose music.

Question: What about sports? Do you have any sports activity?

  • There’s nowhere to practice.
  • No playgrounds.
  • We play on the roads.

Question: And if you could play sports?

Unanimous answer – We would still come to the Music Center.

Question: How many of you have ever been to the beach?

Most of the children never have.

Question: Would you like to visit Israel?

Unanimous answer – yes.

Dochy promised to take steps to organize a trip for them that would include attending an “East West” concert of the Philharmonic and Ensemble “Shesh Besh”, a visit to the beach and a tour of Tel Aviv.

Ruti: How many times a week do you come to the Music Center?

Three times a week.

Ruti: Isn’t it too much? Doesn’t it affect your homework?

  • It’s really not difficult.
  • I like coming here.
  • When you do something you like, it’s fun.
  • It doesn’t affect homework at all.

Ruti: Do you practice your instruments at home?

Yes.

Amid (the teacher): Just this past week, the second year students began to take their instruments home.

Ruti: Do you feel changed at all because of your music studies?

  • I feel smarter.
  • I meet more people.
  • Music studies bring order and system into our lives.

Ruti: Would you like us to come again and that our students would also come and join your studies?

  • Yes.
  • We would like you to teach us, too.
  • We would like to study other types of music, too.

Amid asks: Are you happy in the village?

Nearly a unanimous “yes”, except for a girl who murmured quietly, smiling:

“I’m not”…

Fadi arrives with lunch. The conversation draws to an end, Tal sings Saul Tchernichowsky’s “Credo” in Arabic and Hebrew, and Amid plays two songs.

Recorded by Dr. Ruti Katz

Susya Creative and Learning Center: 1st Anniversary Celebration

On Saturday, May 28th, 2011, a celebration was held at the Palestinian village of Susya to mark the frist anniversary of the Susya Creative and Learning Center’s activity. Four hundred guests took part in the festivities – half of them Palestinians from Susya and the area, and the others – Israelis and internationals who reached Susya from various places in Israel and the world.

The Susya Creative and Learning Center, a joint initiative of local residents and the Villages Group has held a wide variety of activities this past year, among them classes in Arabic and Hebrew, Dabkah dancing, art workshops etc. These activities have made a significant contribution to the process of consolidating the community of families living at Susya.

One part of the celebration took place in the area of the Creative and Learning Center tent where the central assembly was held as well as kite-flying and Dabkah performances of local youth and children’s dance groups. In the nearby tent a sequence of short films was being projected about Susya and its people and about the Creative and Learning Center and its activities. Another part of the event took place at family dwelling tents. Each presented to its guests a display of photographs taken by the women of the family.

A samba players’ group and the Clown-Army group from Israel performed both at the central celebration area and in the family dwellings.

Several settlers from the Israeli settlement of Sussya tried to come in and spoil the fun. In this case, unlike others, army forces present kept charge of the order around Palestinian Susya and prevented the settlers from actually reaching the celebration centers and disrupt the events.

Among the organizations whose support made this celebration possible are The Villages Group, ActiveStills, COMET-ME, Breaking the Silence, Taayush and the Alternative Information Center.

Among the many volunteers who helped make this festivity a success, special thanks go to Ibrahim, Abd al-Rahman and Ahmad of the Susya Creative and Learning Center Committee, Mahmud and Ala from Yatta, David of the Villages Group, Keren and Mareike from ActiveStills, Dolev, Neriya and Tehila of Taayush, and the international volunteers Kate, Fiona and Victoria.

Ehud Krinis, The Villages Group

May 21, 2011: Music Teachers and Students from Tel-Aviv Visit Salem’s Music Center

Last Saturday, May 21st, 2011, the music center in Salem village near Nablus hosted teachers and pupils of Tel Aviv Municipal Arts High School A. This visit is a result of the ties that the school principal, Ram Cohen, and Dr. Ruthie Katz, the school’s music major coordinator, began to nurture with the Salem Music Center

Last summer. About two months ago, the staff of the music center visited the Tel Aviv Arts High School. They attended a demonstration class prepared for them by Mario Solan, musical expression teacher, and his students, Itamar Bellaiche and Noam Da Kalo. Last Saturday, Itamar and Noam arrived with their mothers Anna and Mali for their first visit at the Salem Music Center and joined a class that took place there, together with Mario and the center’s teachers Jubeir, Wasim and Amid.

Mario’s and Itamar’s clarinet performance enabled the pupils at the center to acquaint themselves with this wind instrument, that has been almost unfamiliar to them until now.

The class began with movement and expression exercises led by David Steinberg, coordinator of the Tel Aviv school’s drama major.

Visiting – beside these guests from the Tel Aviv school – were also Dr. Dochi Lichtenstein of the School for Music Education at Levinsky Teachers Seminar, and Noam Ben Ze’ev, music critic for Haaretz newspaper.

For us, members of the Villages Group who have been following the Salem Music Center program from its onset two years ago, yesterday’s visit was a pleasure and a milestone in the ties we have been tending with the people of this village for the past eight years. Cooperation with the Tel Aviv musicians augments the workshops given by Dr. Felicity Lawrence of Newcastle University at the Salem Center in November 2010 and April 2011. These activities open a window to different and varied musical worlds for the students and teachers in this village, among whose population of 6,000 there was only one single musician until a year ago.

As we updated you last month, the children at the Salem Music Center will be needing more musical instruments from this point on to further their studies and musical development, and enable a new class of students to join. The list of instruments includes 4 violins, 3 ouds, 2 tablas, 4 organs, 3 classical guitars, 1 bass guitar and 1 accordion.

Several donors have already helped us with the donations of one large organ, one accordion and a violin. We appeal to all those who might assist this, whether by donating instruments or making a financial contribution, to contact us as soon as possible. The children’s summer vacation, beginning in about three weeks, is activity-intensive at the center, and we would like to facilitate it with all the necessary instruments in time.

Please feel free to approach me for more information.

Sincerely,

Ehud Krinis (ksehud “at” gmail) for the Villages Group

At Umm-Al-Kheir, Fighting Demolitions with Art

In November 2009, we reported to you about demolition orders, issued by Israel’s Civilian Administration of the Occupied Territories, against eleven structures in Umm-Al-Kheir (including stone and tin residential structures, lavatory structures, tents, and a tin storage structure). The structures are located in two residential clusters in Umm al-Kheir that are home to five extended families (over 100 children and adults). Thirty years ago, these families have had the misfortune of the Israeli settlement Carmel settling right on top of their lands and living quarters. The continued expansion of Carmel means continued demolitions and evictions for Umm-Al-Kheir.

Following the demolition orders of 2009, the families of Umm al-Kheir began a judicial fight to have the orders annulled. The two lawyers conducting the fight on the locals behalf have succeeded in postponing demolition in the northern-most cluster, that is, the cluster whose residents had been recognized by Israeli courts in the early 1980s as the legal owners of their lands. As for the southern-most cluster, where the courts did not recognize the residents’ ownership of the lands (notwithstanding their legal purchase of the lands under Jordanian rule), all judicial objections have now been overruled, and the court has upheld the demolition orders.

The last chance left of overturning or postponing the demolition of our homes is the appeal submitted recently by the lawyer representing us to Israel’s High Court of Justice. The residents of the southern cluster in Umm Al-Kheir appealed to for help in financing the appeal to the Supreme Court. Israeli individuals with the mediation of the Villages Group contributed most of the money needed to cover the cost of the application (approximately $800).

Among the structures facing demolition is the home of Eid Hathelin, a local artist. You can see Eid, his family and his work in the final extended version of David Massey’s unique video “Eid”.

Eid’s wife, Na’ama, gave birth last week to their second daughter Lin (sister to Sadin).

In the meanwhile, young people from both at-risk clusters erected (with the help of Israeli and international volunteers) a new tent which they designate to become a center for many educational, artistic and other activities. This is indeed a very special initiative that comes from within, one that can bring new light of hope for one of the most persecuted communities in the West-Bank.

If you are willing to help the people of Umm al-Kheir in this new endeavor, or would like additional details, please contact Ehud Krinis at ksehud”at”gmail.

Villages Group: Planned Projects for 2011

Dear friends and supporters,

In the attached pdf file you will find an overview of the Villages Group’s current programs, appended with the financial requirements of each program.

We encourage anyone of you who wants to help us in achieving the implementation of those programs to get in touch with us.

All the best,

Ehud Krinis in the name of the Villages Group

Salem’s Music Center Team Visits Tel Aviv And Jaffa

Dear Friends,

The last months saw the development of connections between the Music Center that opened about a year ago in the village of Salem, near Nablus, and several people from the well-stablished Alef High-School of Arts in Tel Aviv. Ram and Rutie, who are leading this initiative from the Israeli side, initiated and organized for Jubier, Fadi and Amid – the Music Center’s team, a visit of three days in Tel Aviv. The visit took place during Purim and included meetings and workshops.

The team from Salem met Mario – a teacher for self-expression and communication through music in the Tel Aviv high-school, and three of his pupils; they had a workshop with Fouad, a teacher for music education in Jaffa, and accompanied him on his daily work in the city; and they had the privilege to meet Amos, a musician from Tel Aviv, specializing in building and playing the oud (see attached photos).

The visit took place while West Bank residents were under the closure regularly imposed on them during Jewish holidays. It was possible to hold the visit in these circumstances, due to the efforts of Buma Inbar to secure permits that were valid despite of the closure.

We see this visit as part of an ongoing effort to create connections between this groundbreaking project of music education in Salem and professionals and supporters from Israel and abroad. This effort will continue at the end of next week, when Dr. Felicity Laurence from the University of Newcastle, a world known expert in teaching chorus singing to children, will arrive for her second visit in Salem’s Music Center.

Second School Year Opens at Salem’s Music Center

On Saturday February 19 we visited the Salem Music Center. We were accompanied by three professionals – Fuad, a music teacher from Tel Aviv-Yaffa, Ram – principal of Tel Aviv’s art high school, and Ruti – head of that school’s music department.

The occasion was the opening of a second school year at the Center, absorbing a second cohort of students in addition to last year’s students who continue their work (see here for a description of the first year’s graduation concert). Some challenges facing the Center in its second year:

  • Moving from the local council building to a rented building dedicated solely to Center activities;
  • Expanding the teacher staff to accommodate the additional students;
  • Expanding the deepening the relationships with professionals in Israel and abroad;
  • Deepening the commitment and involvement of student families, including a larger financial participation in covering costs;
  • Expanding the donor base to enable the increase in activities.

If you are interested in getting involved and supporting, please do not hesitate to contact us. We have a new email address: villagesgroup1@gmail.com.

Or contact Mr. Jubier Ishteh, the Center’s founder and director: jubier10@gmail.com, or the administrative and financial manager, Fadi Ishteh: fadi.ishteh@gmail.com.

All the best,

Ehud Krinis