Festival Review: Lo Behashamayim

Ankori quoted from wide range of sources, including Biblical texts, Talmud, theologians, philosophers, even 'The Little Prince.'

Alma Zohar (photo credit: Zohar Ron)
Alma Zohar
(photo credit: Zohar Ron)
There are fun festivals and there are spectacular festivals, and then there is the Lo Bashamayim Festival – three days of intellectual stimulation, literary exploration and philosophic musing, with a generous dosage of musical entertainment thrown in for good measure.
If you’re going to have a gathering designed to set the gray cells racing and, even, evoke the odd emotion or two it’s generally a good idea to ensure you provide a comfortable physical milieu. Pastoral Hotel at Kfar Blum in the Galilee offers that, and more. With the Clore Center offering four large rooms and a comfortably appointed auditorium, just five minutes stroll away from the hotel, the Lo Bashamayim crowd ebbed and flowed, and mingled, easily.
The panel discussion on the first evening of the festival, last Tuesday, provided plenty of entertainment along with food for thought. The “A Stranger/Foreigner Wouldn’t Understand It” session featured a very varied panel ably conducted by radio personality Aryeh Golan, with a former judge, a right wing rabbi and a philosophy professor, and a pop singer who, it transpired, is highly active in helping to protect the rights of foreign workers in this country.
It was fascinating to observe the lively ping pong banter, with some comical asides too, between Rabbi Udi Sharki and singer Alma Zohar, with former judge Shelly Timan offering some legal insight to such issues as foreign workers’ rights and providing political refugees with political asylum.
First light on the morrow found a bunch of early risers gathered by the banks of the Jordan River listening to psychologist Dr.
Micha Ankori’s insights into “The Myth of Evil and its Reincarnations in Judaism.” Ankori quoted from a wide range of sources, including Biblical texts, the Talmud, theologians, philosophers of yesteryear and even The Little Prince. Like almost all of the over 60 panel discussions, lectures and classes the approach was largely non-religious and certainly apolitical.
The cross-generational encounter between 57-year-old daughter of Holocaust survivors author Nava Semel and octogenarian Syrian born writer Amnon Shamush was an intriguing affair, on a literary level and in terms of individual personal experience accrued by the two wordsmiths. Earlier in the day Prof. Judy Baumel-Schwartz provided her audience with her research-based understanding of how men and women dealt with the traumas of the Holocaust, both during the inferno and in their later lives.
There was some musical entertainment in the three-program too, including Meir Banai’s rock concert in nearby Kiryat Shmona – although not all the over-sixties members of the audience enjoyed the decibel levels pumped out by the amplification system.
The next day Emmanuella Amichai and her group entertained a highly enthused crowd with songs based on her father, Yehuda’s poetry and shared some of her childhood recollections with us.
The Lo Bashamayim program offered plenty of choice and plenty to mull over.