Songs & Borders
Neveen Makhoul Elias
Building bridges between Christian and Jewish communities in Israel, reviving the Aramean identity, heritage, and language, and rebuilding 1st Christian Aramaic community & Town in Galilee, Kafr Bir'im in Northern Israel.
Who is Neveen?
Neveen is an Aramean Christian Maronite Israeli of Gush Halav who manages the youth cultural programs of the Israeli Christian Aramaic Association (ICAA – NGO). A mother of three, Neveen invests all of her passion in the lives of current and future Aramean Maronites–keeping traditional Aramaic food and culture prevalent among her people. She is a member of the Choir at Mar Maroun Maronite Church and a dedicated protagonist for the revival of Aramaic: the language spoken by Jesus now uniquely preserved by her Christian Maronite heritage. Neveen is a staunch believer in the importance of nurturing a close relationship between Christians and Jews in Israel including encouraging Israeli Christian youth for IDF service and national service.
I was born in 1977 into a conservative, religious Druse family in the village of Majdal Shams which was in Syria until 1967 when it was occupied by Israel during the 6 Day War. My parents are therefore Syrian born, while I am Israeli.
The conflict surrounding the status of Druse women influenced me and weighed heavily at many crossroads during my life.
I currently work in my profession as a qualified multidisciplinary complementary medical practitioner.
Developing personal treatment which combines both the worlds of Thailand and China as well as four hand treatment.
*Opening doors…crossing borders in my profession as a therapist: spreading peace and unconditional love – that is my belief.
Rab’a is a Druse woman and ambassador to the World Peace Council.
I am a third generation member of one of the founding families of Kibbutz Kfar Szold and live with my family at the foothills of the mountain covered with volcanic basalt rocks. The fields open into the Galillee valley where life stories of generations have been hoarded since the beginning of time.
My world view sees man as part of a large and diverse tapestry that beats and moves interrelating with the environment and together with an innate curiosity to investigate my life and its surroundings, has occasioned encounters and work with many different populations such as women,
at-risk families and people with special needs in Israel and even abroad.
I trained as a therapist in the “Mifne” approach for the treatment of autistic children and their families as well as a group moderator. I accompany and escort individuals, families and groups through life processes, while continuing to study and develop. My journeys in Israel and abroad have brought me into contact with cultures near and far, from which I have absorbed and collected moments, stories and customs which serve as a source of inspiration, not to mention from the entire natural world.
About 10 years ago I participated in a volunteer mission to the forests of Cambodia under the auspices of the “Wildlife Alliance”, to promote community development, family growth and women’s groups for empowerment and personal development.
I currently volunteer at the center to advance African refugees ARDC.
I devote a part of my time as a partner and activist for political, social and environmental change participating in various “peace organizations” initiatives towards ending the conflict and promoting peace.
I am moved by the written word, by cinematic expression, by textures involving form and color, by autumn’s falling leaves, by a wrinkled and time-travelled face, by man’s prayers. I observe and catch moments of life through the camera as if to illustrate their complexity and simultaneous simplicity.
Ronit Nachmias, initially named Frederique Eugenie, was born in Algeria. Following Algeria’s independence from France, the family moved to Paris where she went to high school and studied theatre at Firmin Gemier in the town of Antony. She also participated in the student demonstrations in 1968.
When she was 16 her parents, religious Zionists, joined a group which came on aliyah to Israel and settled on moshav Ramot Meir. As part of her desire to integrate into Israeli society she changed her name to Ronit and moved to the agricultural boarding school “Kanot”. After completing her studies and despite her religious background, she felt the need to enlist in the army and served during the Yom Kippur War on Ramat Hagolan.
The performing arts had always been the love of her life and so, after her army service she began studying physical education in the dance track at the Kibbutz Seminary in Tel Aviv.
After her studies she married Shmulik, a basketball player in Israel’s national team. Over the years they had 4 children, moved to live in Kibbutz Gadot and even added another child to the family. Ronit worked with children in physical education and individual work with movement.
In 1997, following her eldest son’s recruitment to a select unit and in light of the situation on the northern border, Ronit together with 3 friends, founded the “4 Mothers” movement which demanded that the IDF leave Lebanon peacefully. After 3 years of the movement’s intensive activity the Israeli army left Lebanon after a stay of 18 years.
At the age of 45 Ronit retrained for a career in the field of human resources and last year, after about 20 years in the profession, she retired as the VP of Human Resources at the Plasgad factory, which specializes in recycled plastic products.
Today, Ronit is busy in many fields. She trained as a retirement coach, volunteers in the community, has 6 grandchildren and also devotes time to her great love – dance.
A love affair with show business.
I was born in 1966 on the Hebrew date of the Purim holiday, the 8th of March on Kibbutz Baram on Israel’s northern border. Both dates are significant in my life.
I was an ordinary child. When I was 9 I got the lead role in the Hanukah play which we performed for the whole kibbutz. Overnight I became the star of the kibbutz and received many compliments about my acting. It was a real WOW! This was the beginning of my love affair with the stage which continued, uninterrupted until the age of 23 when I was accepted into the acting studies program in Tel Aviv University’s Theatre faculty.
However, the acting classes suddenly became difficult. I had inhibitions and was unable to be sincere on the stage. There was a disparity between Nira on the stage and Nira in real life. I reluctantly understood that I would not be a professional actor.
I collected the fragments of the dream and changed direction. I learnt to become a theatre teacher. I received my B.A. degree and a teaching certificate in theatre. Instead of performing I began to write and direct my students at school. I left the kibbutz and moved to Tel Aviv where I tried to fulfill another dream – to find the one and only and marry him. This dream has not yet been fulfilled.
At the age of 41, after 14 years in Tel Aviv during which I worked as a teacher and went on hundreds of failed dates, I fulfilled another dream and became a single mother to a gorgeous daughter in 2007. I took on a new and demanding position – motherhood. I returned to the kibbutz, to my extended family and my world changed completely. I grew apart from the world of theatre. I stopped directing and seeing plays.
However, as happens in love, that one loses one’s way and finds it again. And so, completely by accident, I became aware of Playback Theatre. The theatre spark was rekindled. The disparity between Nira on the stage and Nira in real life decreased. In 2012 I joined the Playback Group “Shiluvim Bagalil” led by Efrat Ashiri.
Playback theatre has led me back to myself and the stage. I felt that this was the right course for me, appropriate for my skills and where I could develop and which brings me healing. I fell in love again!
I am Marina Abzakh, 51 years old, married without children from Rehaniya a Circassian town in the Galilee.
I attended primary school in Rehaniya. In 9th grade together with some other girls from the town I moved to study in Zfat for both junior high and high school. During high school I joined the local Circassian folklore troupe and we performed in various places and festivals all over Israel. This was one of the formative experiences growing up.
Straight after school I started studying at the Nursing School in the Ziv Hospital in Zfat. I completed my studies in 1992.
In the 4th year of studies I married my husband. We lived for 10 years in Maalot – Tarshicha and I worked in the hospital in Nahariya. In 2001 we returned to Rehaniya where we still live.
I currently work as a nurse in the well-baby clinic and a breast-feeding consultant in the Ministry of Health. Additionally I work as a cosmetician in a part time position and am studying Chinese medicine.
I also worked for several years as the cultural coordinator in a branch of the regional community center. Here we placed emphasis on our uniqueness and cultural connection including initiating ceremonies to mark cardinal events in the history of the Circassian people, youth delegations to Caucasia and hosting delegations from countries with concentrations of Circassian people.
I have a profound attachment to animals and am active on their behalf in the framework of the time and possibilities available to me. I am connected emotionally to this activity and do whatever I can to save animals in distress.