Students from the pluralistic Leo Baeck Education Center in Haifa and students from the Arab village of Ein Mahal in the Lower Galilee will perform together in an original musical production inspired by the Friends Forever Program, Yedioth Ahronoth reported this week.
The Arab-Jewish musical “Step By Step Sauwa Sauwa,” which is based on he Broadway show A Chorus Line, is performed in Hebrew, English and Arabic and takes place in an “ideal Israel,” where Jews and Arabs live together in peace.
Dany Fesler, chief executive of the Leo Baeck Center, told the Jewish Chronicle that the students had originally gone on a trip to the US through the Friends Forever Program scheme, which pairs up teens from conflict zones.
“They went to New Hampshire, lived in the same house, cooked together, went hiking, volunteering and gave talks about their experiences. They came back totally different. They wanted to keep their friendships going, and do a project together,” he said.
Now, he says, “they are creating something onstage to describe the conflict, to show the differences and how we are bridging them. It’s changing their lives. They influence their families, their peers and everyone is asking about it. It’s wonderful to see.”
Fesler told the Jewish Chronicle that the students’ own concerns and prejudices could be heard in the dialogue: “We hear their own fears coming out in what they have written, fears about terrorism, bombings, fears about the IDF, and being a minority.”
Lee Azulay, 18, a student at Leo Baeck, said “the most important thing about the project is the message it sends – if we can coexist on the same stage, we can coexist in the same country.”
Muhammad Abulil, 17, who attends the high school in Ein Mahal, said the musical “tells the entire world
that people can coexist without fighting.”
The musical was even brought to stages in London and Switzerland and, according to Fesler, was “received very warmly.”