Over 4000 rockets have been fired upon southern Israel since the withdrawal from Gaza in August 2005. One of the sectors hardest hit by these attacks has been the educational sector, where classes have been disrupted and attendance canceled as a result of the danger. Furthermore, a 2008 study showed that between 75 and 94 percent of Sderot children aged 4â€“18 exhibited symptoms of post-traumatic stress caused by the rocket fire. There are of course many ways to deal with these problems, and the Jewish community of San Diego chose a unique and admirable path, respond to the rockets with… arts!
The Alexander Joseph Viterbi Arts Center in Shaâ€™ar HaNegev, Israel, is set to be dedicated on June 26, 2012. It is part of the newly built Shaâ€™ar HaNegev Education Village, and is located mere kilometers from the northern border with Gaza. When it opens in the Spring, it will serve 1,800 K-12 students with a curriculum based on arts, music, design and drama. Another significant characteristic of the school is that it has been designed to be rocket resistant – how cool is that? They send rockets and the response? Art. More info from the press release:
In 2008, following the escalation of rockets from Gaza onto Shaâ€™ar HaNegev, the Shaâ€™ar HaNegev community persuaded the Israeli government to approve building a specially-shielded high school on the educational campus of Shaâ€™ar HaNegev. The Jewish Federation of San Diego County took a bold step, as the first organization to commit its support to building the school in its early planning stages. With Rick Kornfeldâ€™s leadership, many families in San Diego stepped up to support the new high school with their generous donations… After a tremendous investment of time, expertise and funding, the dream of a state-of-the-art high school with a focus on pluralistic Jewish values, is coming to fruition. The children of Shaâ€™ar HaNegev will soon be able to attend classes in a safe and sophisticated learning environment in their community, not far from their homes. The Alexander Joseph Viterbi Art Center, created through the generosity of the people of San Diego, funded through Jewish Federation of San Diego County, will enrich their lives through dance, music, painting and other cultural activities.
The dedication ceremony will take place June 26 and if you’re in the neighborhood, do go and celebrate this really awesome initiative by The Jewish Federation of San Diego County. For whatever it’s worth, can I suggest we host next year’s TribeFest in Shaâ€™ar HaNegev? No but seriously, give yourselves a well deserved pat on the back there Jews of San Diego. Anyone heading down to the ceremony from Jerusalem want to give me a ride?