Just like the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Partnership with Israel program sends Israeli and American students to each other’s countries, artists are also sent from each side of the Atlantic Ocean to the other.

Israeli performing artists from the Western Galilee recalled emotions from their trips to the US that were similar to the American artists who came here on the Artist Residency program.

The performing arts series that started three years ago has brought theater groups and dance troupes to the 15 American cities in the consortium that is bonded with the Western Galilee in the program.

The artists perform before Jewish and non-Jewish audiences, meet their American counterparts and stay with local Jewish families so they can learn about Jewish life in the US.

Gali Kalef-Hayon, who directs two modern folk choirs and dance troupes in the Mateh Asher region, said she took them to perform in Indianapolis, South Bend and northwest Indiana.

They met with folk groups in Indianapolis and the Israelis and Americans learned from each other.

“Folk dancing is an international language,” Kalef-Hayon said. “It’s not specifically Jewish or Israeli, it’s international.

Some crowds wanted something more Jewish, but it’s important to perform what the artists feel, even if it’s something international and not hassidic or klezmer.”

The partnership has also sent over performers to the consortium communities for Israel Independence Day celebrations and workshops on Hanukka.


“What’s most important is to expose them to Jews and non- Jews,” said Albert Ben-Shloosh, the Israeli head of the partnership’s arts task force and the cultural director in Acre. “Some shows have had crowds of 500 people. They have been exposed to hundreds of people who see a different side of Israel.”

The arts task force’s American chair, Kim Goldberg of Omaha, said it is important for the Israeli artists to see what it is like for Jews in America to be Jews, just like it is important for American Jews to see how Israelis live.

Future projects include an exposition of Western Galilee artists in the communities and an international arts conference in the Western Galilee.

“There are a lot of great artists here and no one knows about them,” Ben-Shloosh said. “The goal of the project is to find the potential of the artists, while deepening the connection of the communities and supporting the artists’ development and exposure.”

– G.H.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger