|Yoav Shalom, teacher in the older kindergarten, describes this year’s special Purim celebration in Ein Bustan:
“On the morning of Purim we entered the kindergarten and were surprised to see that the kindergarten had turned into a magical kingdom in an imposing forest. The children, too had magically transformed into princes and princesses, animals and flowers, and all of them were wonderful and beautiful. The children also became actors in a play we enacted, which was based on a story especially written for them by the teacher Ibtisam Zubidat [Yoav’s colleague and Arab co-teacher]. The atmosphere was magical, and it’s always a great pleasure to see how the parents stepped in to assist us when necessary - a huge thank you to everyone who helped).Of course we also sang songs, accompanied by Amir on guitar and by Yair, who is a grandfather of one of the children in the kindergarten, who played very nicely on the recorder. It was fun and enjoyable!”
The Purim play was based on the “characters” that the children had dressed up as, but also had a pedagogical “message” or underlying theme, which was based on a conflict that the teachers had observed among the children. They noticed that at times there was tension between the Arab and Jewish children and a tendency to form different play groups based on their mother tongue. In the play, this conflict was translated to a conflict among the animals, (played by the children) which was eventually resolved. Here is a short quote from the play:
“Once, many years ago, there was a large kingdom, and within the kingdom were beautiful gardens, adorned with colorful flowers, and trees bearing sweet fruits. The kingdom had a King, a Queen, princes and princesses, and they all lived in a fancy palace. Around the palace there was a deep forest, that was home to many animals. But the animals did not live in peace with one another, they did not play with one another, they did not help each other, or talked to each other, and even fought with each other. Days passed, and there was no peace, and this was because they could not understand each other.” The King and Queen resolve to bring peace to the forest, and consult a wizard, who then casts a spell on the forest, causing the sun to go dark and preventing the forest trees from growing and the flowers from blooming. The spell can be lifted only if the animals make peace among themselves.
Perhaps this can serve as an apt parable for all of us - without understanding, respect and compassion, our world will indeed be a dark place. We can lift the “spell” of hostility, fear and suspicion once we open our hearts to each other.