Yad Harif Art Center, Mateh Yehudah Regional Council
"Our aspiration is to turn the Mateh Yehudah Region into a model for other municipalities throughout Israel, concerning the cooperation and integration of various ethnic and religious sectors, and to create a center of art and culture which will be a source of inspiration. We aim to bring the people of the Region - with all their differences - closer together by engaging in joint activities. Thus, diversity will be transformed into a united and creative social tapestry."
Excerpt from Mussa Harif's first and last Knesset speech made at the Knesset 1982.
Mussa's vision has been transformed into a reality. Following his tragic and untimely death in 1982, the Yad Harif Music and Arts Center was established to realize his vision as a place where barriers between people are broken down. Located in the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council next to the city of Beit Shemesh, Yad Harif serves facilitates the development of a creative spirit that transcends ethnic differences. The goal of the Yad Harif Center is to create a social framework, via the medium of art and dance, for joint creative activities among the different residents of the Region. Mussa's dream was that Jewish youth from the cities and the regional agricultural settlements, both religious and non-religious, Muslim and Christian Arabs from the surrounding villages, will coalesce as one unit in dance and music, forming a social network based on the values of tolerance, openness and understanding and cooperation.
The Yad Harif Regional Art Center was established 18 years ago by individuals that believed in Mussa's vision. Located on Kibbutz Tzorah, in the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council, the Music center serves the 54 communities, kibbutzim, moshavim and Arab villages in the region, as well as residents from the city of Beit Shemesh.
This diverse region is composed of religious and secular Jews; veteran Israelis and new immigrants; and Jews and Arabs successfully living and working together in a spirit of tolerance and cooperation. The creative spirit of arts and culture unite these different population groups. The Yad Harif Arts and Music Center plays a pivotal role by offering a wide array of art, dance, music and cultural programs to children, youth and the adults. The center has two major goals:
• To teach art, dance and music at the highest levels and,
• To instill a sense of mutual respect and ethnic pride for the heritage and folklore of the diverse groups in the Region.
The Center employs 40 first-rate teachers, many of them immigrants from the former Soviet Union, who come from Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the surrounding areas. Due to the importance of center as a creative force for the expression of art, the Mateh Yehudah Region Council provides support for the programming and finances the transportation of children to the Center.
• Yad Harif developed an educational program, "Schools Play Music" in which 650 students from a number of schools in the Region are exposed to the world of music by learning how to play musical instruments and by singing in a choir.
• Over 500 students participate in afternoon programs in the field of music, dance and creative art and crafts. Aside from being exposed to the richness of music and art, children and youth who otherwise would not have an opportunity to meet with one another, are drawn closer via the common language of the arts.
• Adults use the Center during the evening hours, engaging in dance and art programs. As a result of the success of these programs, a Regional Ethnic Dance Troupe has been developed.
• The music program provides private musical lessons in theory and enrichment to children from five years old to adults. Lessons include playing in ensembles with wind instruments, guitars, saxophones and in singing ensembles as well. Special workshops in rhythm are also offered.
• The dance program offers classes in classical ballet, modern dance, composition, jazz, floor gymnastics and acrobatics and movement. Classes are open to the entire community according to the principle that all people should have an opportunity to experience the beauty of movement. This approach does not detract from the Center's goal of identifying and promoting exceptionally talented children.
• Courses in plastic arts are offered with the goal of exposing participants to various techniques and materials in an educational and experiential manner. Ceramics, painting and sketching are some of the subjects that are taught in this field. Special in-service training workshops that are recognized and accredited by the Ministry of Education are organized for teachers.
• Yad Harif organizes multi-disciplinary art workshops bringing together leading artists from all fields of dance and art. In addition, staff participates in ceremonies in the area (Memorial Day and Jewish Holidays for example) and in national and international conferences,
• At the conclusion of the year, art works are put on display and dance performances are performed by participants highlighting their achievements and crystallizing what they learned during the year.