Ein Bustan is a Waldorf kindergarten in the Galilee, in Israel’s northern region. In contrast with other kindergartens, the kindergarten is run concurrently in two languages, Arabic and Hebrew, and the children that attend the kindergarten together are from both the Hebrew-speaking and the Arabic-speaking cultures. This fact is worthy of particular mention within the context of Israeli society, where the norm is complete separation between these two groups, so that as a general rule the children of each community do not attend educational frameworks together, and in fact, rarely have occasion to be in any contact with each other.
The two age groups in the kindergarten (2-4 yrs and 4-7 yrs of age) include more or less equal numbers of Hebrew and Arabic speakers, with two teachers for each group (one native Arabic speaking teacher and one native Hebrew speaking teacher). Both languages are heard daily, and the holidays and special days of both cultures are celebrated, with adaptations according to the needs of each age group. A unique bi-lingual pedagogical method, which is based on mutual respect and attentiveness, has evolved from this reality. This method develops and becomes more firmly established with each passing day of activity in the kindergarten.
Music and stories have an important place in the daily routine of the Ein Bustan kindergarten children.
As a musician and an educator I believe that a sublime element lies concealed within Art, and this element is deeply connected to the inner quiet of the artist while he or she is in the creative process. This is a particular mood, which I myself associate with prayer, which enables one to access the sublime. In our modern age, this approach to the sublime is not an obvious part of an adult’s life. This mood or “mode of being” may develop within a child when he or she listens to a story or a song, or when he or she makes a drawing, but this does not necessarily happen in every case without assistance. We need to assist the child to find this blessed inner quiet by creating a suitable space for the child’s development, and then to nurture him (or her) like a young seedling.
In our kindergarten, special attention is given to the choice of melody. We felt it necessary to introduce songs that were compatible with our special needs as a bi-lingual Arabic-Hebrew kindergarten, and in the absence of suitable materials, we turned to the task of composing such songs ourselves. Thus, I found myself composing melodies to children’s songs that were written by the staff. The experience of composing music for a text in Arabic was a new and surprising one for me. In the direct manner enabled by the creative process, I discovered the great extent to which the musical modes that are used by a specific musical culture are related to nuances of emotion, and to common manners of perception and expression that characterize the people from that culture.