Have you been to Kfar Kama to see Circassian life?

Slowly returning to normal means venturing off the Jerusalem streets.

People are beginning to get around again, and we joined a group tour going to the Galilee.

Leaving Jerusalem we saw the scorched remains from the summer forest fires,

which were way too close to the new construction in Mevaseret.

Going past Mount Tabor to Kfar Kama, to the home of the Circassian community, Adyghe Израилым ис Адыгэхэр; and in Hebrew, הצ’רקסים, descended from two groups who were settled in Galilee in the 1870s during the Ottoman Empire.

Circassia: country, the historical region was along the northeast shore of the Black Sea, was destroyed and devastated after the Russian-Circassian War which lasted 100 years from 1763–1864.

90% of the Circassian people were either massacred or exiled, today there are 2- 3 million in Turkey and the Middle East, and half a million in Jordan.

In Israel, the 4,000-5,000 Circassians live mostly in Kfar Kama.

The Circassian Heritage Center is not always open to the public. We had driven through the narrow village streets once before, but then the center was closed.

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Even the shutter blue windows and doors tell part of the story. This blue color is used throughout the village for good luck.

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Our guide gave a historical background to his people and history.

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In Kfar Kama, some of the old stone structures and arches are preserved.

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The mosque and minaret rise above the Muslim community.

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Contrasts of old and new are found along the meticulously clean streets.

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The signs are in 3 languages: Hebrew, Arabic, and Adyghe, written in Cyrillic script.

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In the museum, there are artifacts from the past,

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examples of traditional costumes,

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and items from early settlement, including a Singer sewing machine.

A visit to Kfar Kama Heritage Center needs a video of their distinctive dancers.

The male dancer in the black hat was at Beit Hanasi almost 10 years ago with President Shimon Peres for a Sukkot Open House Performance.

Too bad I couldn’t find those photos now. Does anyone else remember their performance?

This seemed a good time to share a bit and a look at the blending of old and new, little-known cultures and religions in the land of Israel.

More from the many things happening on Jerusalem streets next time.

Accepting Diversity

With so much bountiful rain this week it was hard to go outside

and even harder was to get out of bed from under the warm covers.

Holding a dripping umbrella on the windy streets,

on the buses or light rail train, while trying to stay dry, was a real challenge.

Jerusalem light rail train, Machane Yehudah station, rain

Like this scene at the Machane Yehuda light rail train station,

Jerusalem was wet, cold and dark much of the week.

Ethiopian immigrants brought their protests to Jerusalem,

and headlines were of religious intolerance and racial discrimination.

It was hard to find something positive to write about.

But then on Sunday, in spite of 28 mm of rain,

more than 145 people attended a symposium entitled,

  “The Challenge of Accepting the Diversity of our Children’s Choices.”

Gilo neigborhood, Beit hayeled

The symposium was held at AMIT Beit Hayeled,

located in the Gilo neighborhood, 

a home to 120 children who for various reasons

had to leave their family’s homes.

 AMIT’s goal is to strengthen Israeli society by educating and

 nurturing children within a framework of academic excellence,

religious values and Zionist ideals.

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein

 In his opening remarks, Rabbi Haskel Lookstein of New York City

spoke of the need for ahava, love.

Dr. Tovah Lichtenstein, professor emerita of the Bar Ilan University

 School of Social Work, who has inspired thousands of students,

said that we should seek a thinking person,

not clones of ourselves from our children.

Benny Lau, Rabbi Benny Lau

Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau, who works tirelessly for religious unity,

spoke of the relationship of Avraham and Lot, 

a model of one family member giving space to the other,

while remaining nearby when needed.

Dr Tova Hartman

Dr. Tova Hartman, Bar Ilan University psychology professor and 

 activist for women’s inclusion, stressed the importance of 

parents giving a clear message of their agenda to their children.

The three panelists answered questions after their presentations.

People bundled up and went back out to face the cold winds.

The special speakers at this symposium, spoke of the need 

for tolerance and unity and acceptance of differences.

The teachers in AMIT schools, “just do it” daily.

The AMIT network of 98 schools serves over 25,000 students 

and is supported by many volunteers and generous donors.

With the help she received, the daughter of Ethiopian immigrants

was able to study at the Technion and became a doctor;

 today she is serving in the IDF…

now that is something positive to write about.