|Dear Friends and Supporters,
We are still enjoying occasional rains, and the flowers are blooming. This May, we celebrated the sixth spring of our non-profit organization, Maayan Babustan (Ein Bustan), that founded the first Jewish Arab Waldorf kindergarten, and this September we will commence our 7th school year
Now it is clear to us that our goal is not just limited to the establishment of a bi-lingual Waldorf kindergarten, but rather the establishment of Waldorf educational institutions for the children of our two peoples - Arabs and Jews, in two languages (Hebrew and Arabic) that are based on respect for both cultures. Ideologically, there does not seem to be much difference, however the infrastructure and extent of our activities are changing dramatically. We need to prepare for the enormous potential of our idea. We feel that social justice will evolve from worthy education, and believe that the educational challenge of two warring cultures within a single geographic area - is a golden resource. This is the best way in which to educate our children in the 21st century, in a world that thirsts for compassion and unconditional love.
New Families - New Activities
Many new families joined Ein Bustan year, and the newcomers contributed their energy and welcome ideas to a host of different activities that have enriched our lives and helped us expand our activities beyond the core educational program. We now feel like we have a real “Ein Bustan Community”!
For the first time, we now have a bi-weekly email newsletter, which appears in both Arabic and Hebrew, thanks to the volunteer translation services of some of the parents. The newsletter highlights developments in the kindergarten, announces upcoming events, raises questions, lists the need for volunteers for various jobs, and occasionally the teachers contribute short verses or songs in either Hebrew and Arabic that are currently recited or sung in the kindergarten. This way the parents receive a better picture of their children’s education, and are also provided with an opportunity to better understand the other’s culture and language.
Food With A Blessing (Mazon Bracha) for New Mothers: The many new babies among both the Arab and the Jewish families inspired a welcome initiative: the families of the kindergarten arranged to take turns bringing home-cooked meals to the new mother and her family every day for the first month or two after the birth, thus enabling the mother to rest and care for her new baby.
After much thought about the everyday health and well being of the children, this year we decided to improve their nourishment and provide them with organic food. This was accomplished at a very reasonable price, by the kindergarten joining an organic food co-op and buying the food in bulk and at wholesale prices. The parents now take turns bringing the food to the kindergartens.
Meeting Nature, and Meeting One Another:
The impulse to extend the dialogue that takes place so naturally among the children in the kindergarten to include the parents, as well, has taken several forms. One of these is monthly nature outings on the weekends, with the participation of current Ein Bustan families as well as families of Ein Bustan “graduates”. These outings give us an opportunity to socialize informally, to enjoy nature, and to share delicious food together. Here are some picturesfrom some of our outings:
Here is what Duha and Yusuf (Bedouin Arab parents) had to say following one of our trips:
"This past weekend, all of us, parents and children, went on a beautiful and enjoyable trip to the “Bridges” park on the Carmel Mountain. We walked along the trail, and then we all sat together and ate breakfast together. We laughed a lot, and talked a lot, and there was lots and lots of food! We are grateful to Gidi and all those who organized it and think that those who didn’t come surely missed out.”
Arab-Jewish Dialogue Group
Another important development is the ongoing Arab-Jewish dialogue group that has been meeting regularly in the evenings, with the expert facilitation of group leader Yael Maayan, a former parent in the kindergarten.
In a message to other parents, Shai Epstein (one of the Jewish participants from this group) remarked:
We all have been sending our children to a joint Jewish-Arab kindergarten, but beyond that - how much do we really let ourselves touch the core of the matter? We may be hopeful that our children will absorb acceptance and tolerance of other, but it seems to me that there is also a deep significance to our actions, as parents from different peoples, that are willing to sit together, and actually want to do this: in order to listen, to express what we feel, and to agree to touch this sensitive subject that we have been living with our whole lives. In other words: sending our children to an Arab-Jewish kindergarten is meaningful and important, but what about us adults? It took me 3 years to understand and feel that sending my son to the kindergarten was not enough to enable me to get closer to the Other…and to understand that this wonderful initiative that enables this kindergarten to exist actually invites me to do more than leave my son there in the morning and collect him in the afternoon. I invite you all to join this important group so that we may keep this space of dialogue and development alive”.
The Magic of Purim
The Ein Bustan school year is punctuated by the celebration of many diverse holidays both Jewish and Moslem, and these pose a challenge when celebrated in a joint kindergarten. We explore each holiday, whether it’s the Jewish Channuka or the Muslim Eid El Adha, and celebrate in our unique way, with respect for the diversity of each religion and culture. While our own “traditions” are slowly evolving, each year the celebration of the holiday bears a unique character and is slightly different, depending on the staff, children, weather, parent involvement, etc.
For Purim, which is a Jewish holiday, we embraced the fun tradition of dressing up in costume, and the traditional holiday sweets, elements that the children could enjoy equally, without “heavy” religious implications.
You can see more Purim pictures here
A unique model for education and tolerance
We are proud to announce that this year Ein Bustan received an award for outstanding project promoting peace education, tolerance and joint Arab Jewish life in the region, at the Sachnin-Oranin conference. The conference was sponsored by the Program for Excellence at the Sahknin College for Teacher Training, the Academic College for Teacher Training at Oranim, and the Department for Civil Education in the Israel Ministry of Education, among others. You can see a copy of the award here
Ein Bustan’s reputation as a unique model of educational excellence, creativity and the implementation of a bi-lingual curriculum, has lead to increased demands for visits by a variety of individuals, who are curious to observe and learn from us. Among these are researchers from Haifa University, who are conducting a study of our educational methods and their influence on the children and their families.
Among our visitors this year we have also had the pleasure of hosting guests and supporters from abroad, including Anne Christine Neubacher (from Switzerland), Shepha Vainstain and Karen Gierlach, (from the Salaam Shalom Educational Foundation, United States) and Anne Marcuson and her lovely family (from the United Kingdom). We are grateful to all of you for making the effort to visit us, and we hope to nourish and develop our relationships with more individuals and groups in these countries that identify with our vision of dialogue and peace.
Plans for the Future
We are preparing for our seventh school year with great enthusiasm!
Registration to Ein Bustan has been steadily growing, and we have outgrown our present building. Therefore, we are working accordingly to legally formalize the expansion of the goals of our association, to reorganize the circle of association members, to finalize location of a new building, prepare it for the coming year, and more.
Next year we will have approximately a total of 65 children: 3 kindergarten groups,(including a new nursery group for children ages 1 ½ - 2 1/2 ) as well as our first group of school children - the very first bi-lingual [Arabic-Hebrew] Waldorf 1st grade class
Amir writes about the challenges of bi lingual Waldorf from his perspective
The commencement of our first grade is certainly exciting, but we are aware that we need to be careful and to work with an appropriate balance of professionalism and responsibility! We will be happily welcoming new staff members, and you are welcome to read a short article introducing Hasna.
Many new challenges face us, however we are happy to report that we enjoy the support of important contacts, such as the local
municipalities, and we are certain that we will overcome the difficulties that we face. On the eve of the Passover Holiday and Easter, which coincided this year, we were given a nice present: the Arab and Jewish Mayors of Kiryat Tivon and Bosmat Tivon, David Arieli and Muhammed Abu Yasin Zubidat, signed a joint letter supporting Ein Bustan. This letter is a significant milestone for us, as we enter advance stages of planning for opening our joint Arab-Jewish Waldorf Class One within the Bosmat Municipality, and is an expression of the support that we enjoy from the local communities.
The mayors wrote:
“The educational work of the Director and the pedagogical staff of the joint kindergartens with Arabic-speaking and Hebrew-speaking children is worthy of the highest praise, and serves as a source of inspiration. Moreover, this work is a concrete example of the possibility of coexistence, fraternal relations and cooperation between our two peoples.”
Recently, Ein Bustan was prominently featured in a short film initiated by the Tivon municipality in cooperation with Bosmat Tivon, which aims to showcase co-existence between the two neighboring towns.
Ein Bustan support in the Wide World:
From the beginning, Ein Bustan’s main support has not come from large foundations, but rather from the “grassroots” support of individuals, both in Israel and abroad, who are inspired by our vision and who have turned this enthusiasm into concrete support that has enabled us to expand our activities. Some of the past year’s events worthy of special mention:
- Ein Bustan’s supporters in Germany, many of whom met through the Ein Bustan facebook group(!) and lead by our good friend and long-time supporter Irena Wachendorf, have established an independent “Friends of Ein Bustan Germany” tax free charity. They already held two benefit evenings for Ein Bustan in Austria and are planning more.
- The Salaam Shalom Educational Foundation and Temple Beit David in California sponsored an evening featuring with Amitai Gross, who initiated the project “Music in The Key of Peace”. Amitai made a film documenting the use of music to promote peace and understanding, and Ein Bustan is featured in the film. Part of the proceeds from this project will eventually go to Ein Bustan’s peace building activities.
- Dan Singer, one of our Israeli supporters, recently celebrated his 90th birthday, and requested from his guests to give a donation to Ein Bustan, instead of presents to himself. We are very touched and thank Dan and his friends for this lovely gesture.
We are pleased to announce that we were successful in raising the money needed for our Arabic-Hebrew children’s music project, thanks to the donations of La Nef (France) and Mavareal (Spain), and hope to give you an update about the upcoming Ein Bustan Music CD in a future newsletter. We wish to warmly thank Iona Stichting, the Kathryn Ames Foundation, theAnne Frank Fonds, Stichting Helias and our friends Cornelis Boogerd and Vally Cornelius for donations from the Netherlands, Philippe Laconte and other supporters in France, and many additional individuals we cannot name here for lack of space. Without you, our work would not be possible.
Speaking of help…would you like to sponsor a child from Ein Bustan?
Becoming a sponsor of a child in Ein Bustan enables you to become personally involved in bringing peace to the Middle East. Ein Bustan children are Jewish and Arab children from families of different religions and from all socio-economic backgrounds. We have never turned a child away for financial reasons at Ein Bustan, therefore its is important for us to raise funds to provide scholarships for needy students. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for additional details.
Dear Friends, we hope you will join us in our efforts in building bridges of peace and understanding by supporting education at Ein Bustan.
We send you our greetings for a joyful spring season and a wonderful summer!