On a pleasant sunny day in the midst of winter, befitting the month of Shvat, I went out to one of the flowering hills in the Alonim Nature
Reserve in order to meet with the Ein Bustan community and to celebrate Tu Bishvat together.
It was early afternoon, on Thursday, a time that I habitually devote to accompanying the ceremony of “Kabbalat-Shabbat -Juma” (a combined Arab -Jewish ceremony welcoming the week’s end) in this unique kindergarten in Bosmat Tab’un (Hilf), as I have been doing for the past 5 years. Yet today was different, since here I was going out into nature, instead of going to the kindergarten, and this time I had some very dear guests joining me: my partner Orit, and my young son Yiftah, who is 5 months old, and as full of smiles as the sun itself. And that is not all: this time the children’s parents had arrived as well, since this year we decided that Tu Bishvat was one of two holidays that were selected to be family celebrations including the parents.
The magical oak grove was a perfect backdrop for this heartwarming encounter, and the seasonal flowers outdid themselves: anemones, buttercups, asphodels, dandelions and even a few lingering narcissi (narkisim). Indeed a nature reserve. Already in the parking lot and on the path we met additional parents making their way to the meeting place. It is no longer strange or out of place that Arabic speakers and Hebrew speakers meet together to celebrate a joint holiday. A friendly conversation starts to develop with one of the mothers, who makes her way every day all the way from Zarzir to Hilf Um Rashed (where the kindergarten is situated, about 20 km- RG), so that her daughter, who is 5 and a half years old, might enjoy the benefit of a Waldorf kindergarten in two languages. It reinforces me to see that I have partners, which really and truly believe that this is the best way to educate our children. Again I try to converse in Arabic, and this time I am not so easily allowed to get off the hook, since they already know that I insist on learning Arabic. Perhaps I have learned to insist? Or maybe my Arabic has indeed improved?
The children had already left the kindergarten an hour and a half previously, and had hiked among the flowering, sun-lit hills. The children, aged between two and six years old, are speaking Arabic and Hebrew, they are walking the local hills together, and teachers speaking both languages accompany them. Singing songs about flowers and trees. Songs in Arabic and songs in Hebrew. Indeed - a nature reserve.
We arrive at the meeting point. The mats have already been laid out with fresh and dried fruits, cakes and drinks. Informal chats about the children and about life roll easily forth. Even such small conversations are so meaningful, within the given context. The songbooks are ready. They, too, are in two languages. All I have left to do is get out the guitar and contribute my part.
It is as if there was no need to make a point, to set out on this arduous journey in the first place, no need to stand firm in the face of prejudice and criticism. It all seems appears so effortless. The great feat in art is to relay this feeling of effortlessness; the artist does not reveal the many difficult years of work that preceded his perfect performance, his polished playing or his command of shape and color. Perhaps it is fitting that this type of education is called the “Art of Education”.
So simple, so natural, so sane, so healthy. A nature reserve, indeed.