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New perspectives
By ORI J. LENKINSKI
12/06/2012
Experience a different reality with your kids at the Israeli Children’s Museum in Holon.
 
There are certain times in life when the advertising industry seems to aim at us point blank. For brides, the months leading up to the wedding are filled with a multitude of reasons to spend money. Soon-to be parents find themselves swimming in images and descriptions of strollers, diaper stands, special trash bins and baby clothing. And for parents in Israel, Hanukka is a time when advertisements seem to be for their eyes only.

With children out of school and chilly weather outside, parents are forced to come up with creative ways to occupy their little ones. There are obvious choices such as the Festigaland the Festival, which many children will demand to attend regardless of their parents’ wishes. However, the Hanukka season also offers a handful of rare, magical events tailored to the needs of children.

One such happening will take place at the Israeli Children’s Museum in Holon, located in the Holon museum compound. While the space operates regularly throughout the year, the museum directors have decided to extend their grown-up exhibitions to children this season. In the coming week, “Dialogue in the Dark” and “Invitation to Silence” will open their doors to parents and children.

These two exhibitions have brought ground-breaking attention to the museum. “Dialogue in the Dark” allows seeing participants to experience the limitations of blindness, while “Invitation to Silence” explores the universe of deafness.

“I can say that the success of these two exhibitions has been incredible,” says museum director Rachel Meoded. “We thought that these realities weren’t that interesting to regular people and certainly not for a leisure activity or entertainment. It’s been amazing to see how much people really come and enjoy,” she says. “That’s the purpose of our museum – to offer an unusual experience.”

The initiative to open these exhibitions to children began last year, says Meoded. “Last year in ‘Invitation to Silence,’ we had kids come to experience the limitations of deafness. They learned a song in sign language, along with several other activities. It was very successful. This year we decided to expand to ‘Dialogue in the Dark.’”

Though the children will not be privy to the entire experience of either exhibition, the special kids’ tours will surely give them plenty of food for thought.

“Children aged four to eight will have a guide who is an actor. It’s a lot of fun for the kids. The guides talk to the kids about how to be a child who plays soccer but is also blind or how to play a musical instrument when you can’t see,” she says.

From the experiences they have already amassed about this subject matter, the museum staff has gathered that children are very receptive participants. A mother herself, Meoded has first-hand knowledge of the challenges facing youth today. Beyond the stress of their studies and their budding social lives, children are also faced with a world designed by adults. Oftentimes, as Meoded sees it, this can be a large hurdle to overcome.

“Kids are already dealing with the limitation of being short in this world and dealing with being a kid, which is very difficult sometimes. Here, we give them a chance to experience something different. I think that it develops patience and gives children a different perspective,” she says.

Meoded and her colleagues have gone out of their way to ensure that parents are kept as active as their little ones.

“Our activities are for both parties,” she says. “Enjoyment time together is really important for us at the museum. For both sides, there is a lot of place for self-expression. Unlike watching a show passively, there is a lot of opportunity to ask questions and to contribute. As parents, our reality is so intense, it’s hard for us to make ourselves available. These exhibitions really free us up to meet each other – not just to go through a path of activity but really to be together in an experience,” she says.

“Dialogue in the Dark” and “Invitation to Silence,” in addition to the museum’s other exhibitions, will be open to children from December 9-16. For more information, visit www.childrensmuseum.org.il.



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