News Highlights November 2012
The Second 100 years
After many years of declining numbers Israel's kibbutz movement is staging a revival, with many potential members wanting to join the unique form of collective living.
The total kibbutz population of about 143,000 is the highest in its 102-year history. More people are now joining kibbutzim than leaving and the addition of working-age adults and young children is helping to redress the balance of an ageing population.
Most kibbutzim have implemented reforms so as to become commercially viable. Privatization with differential incomes and home ownership has increased the attractiveness to newcomers reluctant to commit to pure communal principles.
Increasing numbers of families are attracted to kibbutz living by the quality of education, environment, space and security. The kibbutz enterprises also provide thousands of job opportunities.
The government has authorized the quota for foreign workers in agriculture - 27,000 were authorized including 1,000 seasonal workers and 2,000 Palestinians.
Under a new agreement, dairy farming will become more efficient and production per unit will reach a minimum of 700 thousand liters per 70 dairy cows. The purpose of the agreement is to reduce the cost of milk production by dairy efficiency, so that eventually the prices of final consumer dairy products will be reduced.
Back in 1952 Ben Gurion asked a dairy worker to get permission from his kibbutz to take up the position of Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Defense. The dairy worker was just 29 years old but Ben Gurion believed that he was important for the country. The worker approached his kibbutz and a vote was held at a general meeting whether or not to allow a kibbutz member to work outside the kibbutz. That was the way the kibbutzim operated in those days. The members of Alumot voted in favor and the dairy worker, Shimon Peres, was granted leave to serve the country as Deputy Director General of Defense. Shimon Peres was instrumental in building Israel's Defense industry including its nuclear capacity. He also served in numerous ministerial posts including that of Prime Minister. He is of course Israel's current President.
The kibbutzim formed the backbone of the country before Israel gained independence in 1948 and during the first few years after independence. There was an established infrastructure in place because of the kibbutzim and many notable persons from kibbutzim took part in the political and defense organizations as the new state came into being. The kibbutzim were also the bread basket of Israel providing a large percentage of the country's food needs. Kibbutz enterprises diversified over the years and now cover almost every type of business and account for about 8% of Israel's economy.
Israeli Public Relations
Israeli public relations have consistently failed to meet the needs required to explain the position and policies of Israel.
To win the war of public opinion Israel needs to be proactive in its messaging, marketing Israel as a product and not an apology. Classic public relations need to be replaced by a new model. To win the media war, a dramatic shift must take place.
Why do Israeli public relations not work?
If you translate the word “hasbara” into English it translates as information or explanation. Israel has strong case, it has a just case and it has to be proactive.
Zionism is the rejection of Diaspora and the rejection of an image of a perceived weak Diaspora Jew.
Many Sabras, that is Israelis born in Israel, refuse to play the game of pandering to public opinion. A distrust of the non-Jewish world is deeply rooted in the psyche of many Israelis, and originates from a post-Holocaust mentality.
This suspicion is deeply entrenched in the Sabra psyche, especially within the political right. A modern version of this misled belief is that the world is just anti-Semitic — so why bother explaining Israeli policy –- the world will hate Jews and the Jewish country regardless.
Ingrained within the identity of the Israeli is a rejection of being a fryer, a sucker in English.
For many Sabras it is difficult to consider themselves as victims of terrorism or to graphically use personal experiences of terror. To do so would undermine a Zionist self-image of a strong reborn Jew inbred from an early age.
Palestinian spokespeople have no problem with their self-image as victim, speaking freely in terms of victimhood. Consequently, according to world media, the only victims of war in the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts seem to be Palestinians.
World media outlets were constantly fed pictures of the victims and of destroyed buildings in Gaza with almost no pictures of the thousands of injured Israeli victims and destruction in Israel.
Israel military dropped leaflets in some Gaza residential areas explaining to the population that because rockets were being fired from their residential areas into Israel, the Israel military had a need to target certain buildings in their area and advised them to keep out of those specific areas.
The Israel military undertook high tech surgical attacks (so as to limit civilian casualties) on buildings that were used to launch rocket attacks against Israel.
Gaza military units launched all their rockets against Israeli residential areas. Israel retaliated to rocket fire from Gaza by attacking military and government targets and only limited residential buildings when rockets were fired from them.
Israel is a traumatized nation having to suffer more than ten thousand Iranian rocket attacks on civilian targets during the last ten years. These rockets have been fired by Iran's proxies in the area namely the Fundamentalist Islamic Hezbollah and Hamas organizations.
The Iranian Grad missiles go clean through buildings as if the buildings were made of paper. The Grad rockets leave a crater in the ground about the size of a small apartment block and are able to completely destroy buildings.
Thanks to Israel's newly developed Iron Dome ante missile defense system many Grads were shot down over Israeli cities before they could hit their targets. The more powerful Iranian Fadger missiles were fired at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Fortunately the Israeli factory making the ante missile defense system managed to get a battery off the production line and into Tel Aviv just three hours before the first Iranian Fadger missile was detected heading for Tel Aviv. An almighty explosion was heard over Tel Aviv as the Israeli missile destroyed the incoming Iranian missile from Gaza.
In Israel, wherever there are two Israelis there are four opinions. There are thirty four parties contesting the January elections. Every one represents a cause in Israeli society.
Public relations are dealt with by various government departments with conflicting interests. There is a complete lack of coordination.
Synchronization of information is crucial for an effective PR campaign and remarkably problematic, especially between the army, the Foreign Ministry and the so-called Ministry of Public Diplomacy.
Classic Israeli public relations fail in its task to advocate the case for Israel because it fails to understand the impact of television and Internet on the way people receive their news.
If researchers are correct, the average student has a concentration span of seven minutes, the same time that television programs run before breaking for advertisements. Television has influenced and changed the cognitive ability of the viewer.
We would we interested in knowing how much of our monthly news bulletins you read. How many of you read more than half?
For the Israeli advocate explaining the case for Israel in an emotive language is a fundamental challenge.
The Internet generation bases its opinion on a combination of visual and emotive memory and not facts or knowledge. It remembers how it felt about an event not the information concerning the incident.
The 10 Commandments were short and easy to remember and written only on two tablets of stone. Imagine the lack of impact the 10 Commandments would have had if they were the 100 Commandments or if they were more than 200 hundred pages written in a book, even an online Internet book. Very few people would have read them.
For Israel to be more effective in its messaging it will have to stop explaining its policy and start creating messages which are short, simple, emotive and easy to remember.
There are many differences between Israeli PR and that of the Palestinians, the most obvious being that the Palestinian campaign is more effective. Israel has a number of clear red lines that it will not cross.
Israel is more sensitive regarding the use of photographs of dead bodies whether out of respect for the dead or a rejection of being perceived as victim. Palestinians are more open to the use of such photographs as it reinforces a sense of victimhood.
People pity the victim and naturally ally themselves with the Palestinian cause. In their world there is a cycle of violence in the Middle East that is perpetuated by Israel.
Very few are aware that Israel is a tiny country - about a quarter of the size of the land area of greater Cairo, with about one third of the population of greater Cairo. It is completely isolated and surrounded by 24 Arab and non–Arab Muslim countries whose aim is Israel's destruction. The Charter of Palestine also includes the destruction of Israel. Geography students in Palestine are not informed of the existence of Israel. It is not mentioned on their maps of the Middle East. Palestine was not required to change its charter before obtaining observer state status at the United Nations.
Israel does not occupy Gaza and left Gaza completely several years ago. There is no blockade of goods into Gaza by land and every week thousands of tons of goods enter Gaza through Israeli and Egyptian border crossings. There is a naval blockade for security reasons. All ships carrying goods for Gaza have to dock in Israel or in Egypt and then the goods are brought overland(less than 50 kms away) into Gaza.
Israel needs to market itself as a product and use many of the concepts associated with selling any product.
This concept has been implemented by many diplomats, Jewish and Christian religious leaders, students and friends of Israel worldwide in an attempt to replace many outdated and totally ineffective methods used by Israel and Israeli institutions.
South African Jews to host traumatized Israeli youth
Operation Shalom Bayit is a campaign initiated by pro-Israeli activist Brenda Stern from Johannesburg, South Africa. The campaign aims to bring traumatized Israeli youth from Israel.
According to Brenda's plan, the Israeli teens will arrive at the various summer camps alongside Jewish youth from around the world and be hosted by the local community.
They will also be able to share their personal, first-hand experiences of living under the threat of rocket attacks.
Stern said it was very important that the Israeli teens be able to rest and recuperate after what they have been through, adding that it is just as important to strengthen the ties between Israeli and South African kids.
Stern explained that many of the Jewish teens she knows are unaware of the suffering endured by Israeli youth. Therefore, she said, it is very important that local Jewish youths meet with Israelis and hear about their hardships under rocket attacks, "so that this doesn't remain yet another media report or statistic of how many rockets fell."
The Jordan Spring
With the Arab Spring sweeping over Middle-Eastern regimes, many Jordanians are questioning the integrity and validity of King Abdullah’s rule.
The control over Jordan (Transjordan) was given to Emir Abdullah, a Bedouin ally to the British during WWI (at a “tea party” with Winston Churchill in 1918), in order to prevent his forces from attacking the French army that captured Damascus from his brother.
He became King Abdullah I, grandfather of Hussein, King Abdullah’s father. Originally from Mecca, Saudi Arabia, where he held the position of deputy for Mecca in the Turkish parliament, he was not a native to the Transjordan. He built his tribal army into what was known as the Arab Legion (using massive British training and support), which he used to impose his rule on the local Palestinian population (they were named Palestinian by the British so as not to alienate them during WWI as a result of the British Balfour Declaration, which recognized the Zionist movement’s claims to the land).
King Abdullah II does not have the charisma of his father, and did not maintain good relations with external parties or with the local Bedouins. Becoming more vocal over the past few months, the Jordanian people are blaming his family for corruption, similar claims to those made against toppled dictators Mubarak and Gaddafi.
Recently, the Shura Council of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood decided to bring the constitutional disputes with the king to a head. King Abdullah II has no acceptable options, and he will have to abdicate, whether peacefully (like Tunisia’s Bin Ali) or by war (Assad). With or without Obama’s support, the days of the Hashemite lineage rule in Jordan are numbered.
With the fall of the minority Bedouin rule over Jordan and the election of a Palestinian government, major changes will affect the Middle East. But the magnitude of the change cannot be comprehended without understanding the role of the Israeli Arabs.
Israeli Arabs are well integrated into Israeli society. Having MPs, Supreme Court judges and former ministers from their communities, Israeli Arabs are the first instance of complete and organic Arab communities that have undergone Western cultural changes without losing their Arab or Muslim identities, or pride. Unlike Arab communities in other Western countries, Israeli Arabs have retained their heritage, language and religion, all being recognized by the Israeli government (e.g. Arabic is a formal language in Israel) and the vast majority of the Israeli public.
The Israeli Arabs have effectively assimilated in the Israeli job market during the last ten years. For example, they comprise approximately 20% of the medical positions, and a quarter of Israeli pharmacists (in Superpharm, the largest pharmaceutical retailer in Israel, 57% of the pharmacists are Arab). They are financially successful, and on average own more cars than Jewish Israelis. The picture is not perfect of course; there is a great deal of friction between Jews and Arabs (e.g. culture, economic, religion), but these are akin to difficulties and tensions between different communities in other countries, and are far less severe than those between the Christians and Muslims in Europe.
In a drastically different approach than Western countries, the Israeli justice system recognizes and operates Sharia Law through Muslim Religious Courts (which plaintiffs elect by choice) that are subordinate to the Israeli Supreme Court. Thus, Israel enables the Muslim community to live by their own rules and beliefs, as long as they do not clash with Israel’s basic laws.
With the rise of the Palestinian state in Jordan, the foundations of the Middle East are swaying. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict used to be the scapegoat and the strongest binding force at the Arab dictators’ disposal to continue the oppression of their people. With the fairly abrupt and undeniable upcoming resolution of this conflict, Arab leaders will have to look elsewhere for excuses, far from being a simple task. They will no longer be able to blame Israel for all hardships, as Israeli-Palestinian issues will become regular inter-country conflicts that the Middle East is riddled with.
With Middle East politics being rewritten and borders redrawn, the Arab countries are bound to have different relations and conduct with Israel. Pulled out of Middle-Eastern isolation, Israel is likely to take a considerable part in the region’s future. What will it be?
Dog uncovered major archaeological site
He never studied archeology and knows more about bones than about antiquities, but he is probably the first dog in history to uncover a major archaeological site.
It all began five years ago when a dog took a walk in Jerusalem's Ramot Forest with his owner. As he was joyfully running around the forest, the dog suddenly fell into a hole in the ground.
The dog's owner managed to get his dog out safely. As he took a deep breath following the drama, he peeked into the hole and realized that it was not just a random pit.
He alerted archaeologists, who checked the hole and discovered that it had been used as a grape pressing area during the First Temple period.
The rare finding discovered under Jerusalem's Old City appears to be linked to religious rituals practiced at Jewish Temple 2,000 years ago.
The sensational discovery led to an extensive excavation, which exposed additional pits, pottery pieces and bronze coins from the Second Temple period. The dig was orchestrated by Prof. Amihai Mazar, who was awarded the Israel Prize in archaeology in 2009.
The neighborhood residents and students helped out, and Mayor Nir Barkat decided to build a biblical garden on the site in a bid to attract tourists, students and others.
"Jerusalem is our heritage," said Barkat, "and the students are digging in the area with the hope of creating a new generation that knows where it came from and where it is headed."
Israel and Russia to cooperate on energy projects
Israel and Russia will begin cooperating in the renewable energy field, officials decided at an annual working group meeting between the Israeli Energy and Water Ministry and the Russian Energy Ministry.
As part of the week-long meeting, Israeli Energy and Water Ministry director-general Shaul Zemach hosted Russian Deputy Energy Minister Anton Inyutsyn and his delegation, the Israeli ministry reported.
The goal of the group’s assembly was to explore ways in which the two offices could enhance cooperation, focusing specifically on the fields of natural gas, electricity, renewable energy and energy conservation, according to the ministry. At the meeting, both sides also reviewed the latest developments in the energy sectors of both Israel and Russia.
“I welcome the execution of the working group, which will contribute to the economic advancement of the two states and help them strengthen ties between their business sectors,” said Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau.
“I have no doubt that cooperation with an energy superpower of Russia’s size will give momentum to the development efforts of the gas and energy market in Israel.”
Also present at the gathering were representatives from the Russian natural gas government firm Gazprom, who stressed that the company continued to have an interest in the exploration, development and export industries of natural gas in Israel.
Earlier this week, Gazprom, as well as several other natural gas giants from around the world, lost a bid to Australian firm Woodside, which will be gaining a 30 percent stake in the Leviathan gas reservoir as part of a $2.5 billion deal. The largest operator of gas and oil production in Australia, Woodside also specializes in operating liquefied natural gas facilities, a mode for exporting natural gas that the Israeli government has expressed hopes of employing.
Outside the natural gas sector, however, the Russian and Israeli energy officials agreed to establish a new working group that will formulate a memorandum of understanding on renewable energy and energy conservation partnerships, according to the ministry. The group will create a work plan for cooperation and for examining the feasibility of establishing a bi-national research fund for joint projects in these areas, the ministry said.
Nearly forty parties will run for the next Knesset (Parliament).
The January 22 election will be conducted as in the past, via slips of paper dropped into ballot boxes, each with a letter or combination of letters representing a party.
Meanwhile, parties are working on agreements to share “surplus votes,” those that do not add up to a whole seat in the Knesset. The extra votes given to two parties that signed an agreement are added together, and then divided by the relative size of each party, possibly resulting in an additional Knesset mandate.
Also this week, the Central Election Committee decided not to accept votes from sailors at sea. According to law, sailors must be allowed to vote on a vessel with 16 or more Israelis aboard, but there will be no such ships during the election.
No party or political partnership is expected to obtain the necessary 61 votes majority necessary to form a government and as usual several parties will be have to negotiate a coalition so as to form a government.
Senior Citizen Employment
Most Israelis agree on the need to improve employment rates in the Haredi and Arab sectors, but according to a new study by the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies, a third sector is being undervalued by the economy: senior citizens.
About 30 percent of Israeli senior citizens who are not working are able to work, and their net total employment would be worth at least NIS 6.4 billion in income, the study found.
The study, “Senior Citizens: A Great Unexploited Reservoir of Human Resources” took into account existing polls, which show that 70% of Israel’s 700,000-plus seniors want to work. It added other factors, including the health of the seniors, labor differentials for men and women and unemployment rates. It concluded that while 80,500 seniors are currently employed, another 219,800 – or approximately 30% – are employable.
The figure of NIS 6.4 billion was reached by using the minimum wage to calculate a conservative estimate of the value of the senior citizens’ potential work.
Seniors made up 4.8% of the Israeli population in 1955, but will reach 13-14% by the years 2025-30, according to the study. Twelve percent of the 65+ population is currently employed, but 71% of men and 63.1% of the women aged 60-64 are in the labor force.
“The agenda in Israel is focused on raising the employment rate in the Haredi and Arab sector,” a study’sspokeperson. “Senior citizens are ignored, though many of them want to work and many of them were working until they were forced or encouraged not to.”
Standard of living in Israel regressing
According to the report's authors, once the effect of the economic crisis experienced by Western countries fades away, Israel's citizens will discover that the fundamental gap between the economies of Europe and North America and the economy of Israel has not been closed but rather expanded.
"The standard of living in Israel is regressing, in relative terms, and moving away from leading Western countries for several consecutive decades," states the report.
According to Taub Center economists, the Israeli economy's growth rates in recent years reflect a return to Israel's regular growth volumes since 1973, after the economic depression experienced by the Israeli economy during the Second Intifada. On the other hand, this accepted growth volume is not higher than the long-run growth outline of Western economies in the past decades.
The report details many factors hindering the growth and rise in the standard of living in Israel, led by the problematic distribution of resources in the state budget, which prevents essential investment in transportation infrastructures and in education.
"Israel's key physical and human infrastructures have been neglected and degenerated, and the State is just beginning to understand the consequences," the report says.
The lack of investment in these infrastructures, the report's authors note, results in a population which is unskilled for advanced professions that are becoming available in a modern and technological economy and leads to a particularly low level of productivity (the ratio between the volume of output and the total number of hours worked) among Israeli workers.
Considering the fact that Israel has significant security-related spending and that this situation is unlikely to change in the coming years, the report notes, Israel's government must be creative and flexible in regards to the preferences it sets in the state budget, and focus on paving new roads, building railways and improving the quality of education.
"Israel is not making any substantial changes in its national list of priorities, which could clearly change the distribution of resources to its principal human and physical infrastructures, which have gradually degenerated, creating the current long-run social-economic outline," the report states.
"All the knowledge Israel needs in order to change direction is here, still, in its excellent universities and in the progressive high-tech and medical sectors. The question is whether the State's leaders will find the courage and ability to guarantee that this knowledge reaches all of Israel's children on time, before they grow up and are required to survive in a modern global economy equipped with tools and infrastructure suitable for a third world country."
The report's authors argue that factors that led to the social protest presented in the report do not reveal the full picture of the economic failures of all Israeli governments, and that the poor achievements of the education system and the grim situation of the transportation infrastructure in Israel continue to slowly consume the economic future of Israel's citizens.
"The social-economic situation which led to the protest of the summer of 2011 focused attention on the tips of the iceberg rather than on the iceberg itself," it was written in the report. "But what we see is a huge iceberg, which will be involved in a frontal collision with the State of Israel due to Israeli demography."
Spain to reinstate citizenship to Jews
Spain has decided to offer automatic citizenship to anyone who can successfully prove their Spainish Sephardi Jewish origins, Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz Gallardón announced during a ceremony last week at Madrid’s Casa Sefarad-Israel.
Presiding over the ceremony was Casa Sefarad-Israel director Florentino Portero, and attendees included Gallardón, Foreign and Cooperation Minister José Manuel García-Margallo, and Isaac Querub, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities and Casa Sefarad’s director, the Spanish daily El Pais reported.
In his speech, Querub referred to the “nostalgia” and “longing” of the Sephardim for Spain, and the 500 years that had passed from the 1492 Expulsion Decree until King Juan Carlos’s 1992 visit to Madrid’s Beit Jacob synagogue, where the king emphasized that “the Hispanic Jews are at home.”
Querub said the king’s words had come true in the updated version of the Carta de Naturaleza (“conditions for citizenship”).
It allows for granting immediate citizenship to those able to come up with a mixture of family anecdotes, genealogical trees, ancestors buried in Jewish graves, language and customs, whether they live in Spain or abroad, said Gallardón.
He called the move a mechanism for putting the Sephardim Jews back into Spain – “a procedure aimed at reuniting those who have been unjustly deprived of their nationality and have recreated in their hearts a Spain that they never resigned themselves to losing and that from now on is as much theirs as it is ours, under the law.”
“Our relations with the Sephardim Jews have never been interrupted, they have never been forgotten, and they have become stronger as Spain has become increasingly democratic and tolerant,” he said.
Another reason for this move, he continued, was to “recover Spain’s silenced memory,” bringing the descendants of those original Sephardim Jews back to their land and to freedom.
Upon recognition of their Sephardi status from the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain, Jews will be able to register as Spanish citizens after promising loyalty to the constitution and to the king of Spain. This will also entitle them to protection by Spanish consular offices.
Founded in 2006, Casa Sefarad is a diplomatic project of the Exterior and Cooperation Ministry, the Greater Madrid Community and the Madrid Municipality, developed under former foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos. Its aim is to study the Sephardi Jewish cultural legacy as an integral and living part of Spanish culture, to foster a greater knowledge of Jewish culture, and to encourage the development of friendship and cooperation ties between Spanish and Israeli society.
Israelis to develop Belarus dairy farms
Israeli company SCR will supply milking equipment to more than 300 facilities with over 100,000 cows in Belarus, as part of a major bid issued by the Eastern European country, valued at $300 million.
SCR develops, manufactures and markets management and milking systems for cattle sheds and livestock pens, as well as advanced systems for monitoring individual cows and herds.
SCR was selected as the main equipment supplier for the project, in a partnership with Belarus' Gomelagrokomlekt Company. The equipment is to be supplied by the end of 2012. Due to the volume and tight schedule of the project, SCR has installed a production line in Belarus.
Israeli company AfiMilk is also taking part in the project and will provide milking facilities in Belarus with hardware and software systems for managing herds of cattle.
The company, owned by Kibbutz Afikim and the Fortissimo Capital investment fund, was the first to develop and operate the electronic milk meter.
The Belarus government is using the project to implement a strategic plan aimed at modernizing the country's cattle sheds, which includes the construction of 1,200 new cowsheds and the upgrade of 800 existing milking facilities.
Nearly 50% of Belarus' milk production is exported to eastern European countries, mainly Russia.
The Israel Children's Museum
From computer screens to televisions to telephones, kids spend endless hours in front of blinking, fluorescent-lit boxes. And while many of these interactions are geared towards education, parents are often left longing for authentic experiences that involve hands-on objects rather than photos and simulations.
It is precisely this need that the Israel Children’s Museum in Holon seeks to meet. This month, the museum opened two new exhibitions designed to stimulate thought and movement. “Eye Level” and “Dialogue with Time” each employs cunning design strategies to present unforgettable, cohesive experiences for children.
The two exhibitions have been put together with the kind of meticulous care and consideration that can warm the heart of any parent. Every moment of the participants’ experience has been carefully thought out, from where they place their backpacks to the way each color on the wall stimulates imagination.
The Eye Level Center invites children ages four and above to Tzazim, an exhibit that is focused on movement in art. “Eye Level” is a space with rotating exhibits, which recently moved locations from a less central location. Tzazim is the inaugural endeavor in the Holon museum compound.
Designers Verred Ozer and Smadar Goffen looked at the prospective interactions with art that the children will have throughout their lives, then sought a way to make those meetings accessible and enjoyable. All told, the creative process for Tzazim took just over two years.
“We focused on the inner rhythm that everyone has,” Goffen explained in a recent tour of the exhibit.
Upon entering the brightly colored lobby of “Eye Level,” children are met with guides, who have all attended design or art school. These young guides lead the groups through the various rooms of the museum, asking questions and offering explanations to the visitors.
The spaces include a gallery, where kids can wander from sculpture to installation, a black box theater with a backstage open to the public for makeup and hair, a movement and music workshop and a creativity room.
While the exhibition offers an alternative to the many hours of screen time available to little ones, it also takes new media into consideration. At one end of the dazzling hallway sits the stop-motion room. Here, children are seated at individual stations that are equipped with small figurines, a screen and a camera. They are instructed how to make a stop-motion animation sequence, which is then sent to them via e-mail.
“They bring these two-dimensional characters to life in this room, and we find that it is very engaging for them,” explained Goffen.
In the next building over, “Dialogue with Time” offers a very different experience.
Open to children aged 12 and up, the subject of this exhibition is unusual.
The lobby has a wooden ring motif, which helps to convey the overall message of the experience, which is old age.
“We stuck to two colors – pink and yellow,” said designer Golan Levi. “One of the defining characteristics of sight in old age is that the field of vision becomes more yellow. Alongside the yellow we used a vibrant pink to show contrast.”
As visitors enter the space, they are led to a photo booth, where a passport for their upcoming journey is produced.
They then walk through a twisting hallway filled with questions such as How old are you? How old do you think you look? How old do you feel? Are you afraid of growing old? Is being old good or bad? “We thought, at first, that the guests would pass through this section quickly.
The opposite is true. We find them lingering in front of certain questions, discussing their feelings or just lost in thought,” said Gil Omer, director of the museum.
Once they have passed through the questions, the kids enter what Levi calls the yellow saloon. With soft floors, yellow lighting and smoke machines, the space creates a sensation of disorientation.
Inside, the kids are challenged to complete simple tasks such as sending a text message or walking up and down a small flight of stairs. However, the text message must be sent with thick gloves on, and the stairs climbed while wearing heavy boots. “This space presents them with the physical limitations of old age,” explained Omer.
At the next station, the guide, who is over 70 years old, tells the children stories of his youth. He then draws up the photographs from their passports and, using imaging technology, shows each one how they will look as an elderly person. From there, they continue to a playroom, where statistics about old age are presented in a series of games. Finally, upon reaching the end of the tour, the students gather around a large wooden table to discuss their thoughts on what they have absorbed.
In this exhibition, unlike the open space of Tzazim, there is a tunnel-like feeling.
Each room is a world unto itself, with definitive design elements. “We wanted to create the feeling that there is a surprise behind every door,” said Levi.
Tzazim and “Dialogue with Time” are open to school groups, as well as individuals.
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