A small violin lay in its brown case in a hotel room in New York City. The violin, destined for an Ethiopian boy who is learning to play the violin in Israel, was donated to a unique education program in Israel created by a woman dedicated both to the arts and to peace.
The program, called Hilai, sponsors two retreat houses for artists, one in the Galilee town of Ma’alot-Tarshiha — a twin Arab/Jewish town — and the other in the Negev town of Mitzpe Ramon.
Started by Corinna (she uses only her first name), Hilai’s primary purpose is to provide a constructive atmosphere in which artists can work. No less important, however, are the benefits to the host community. Each artist is asked to contribute to the community by teaching and/or by creating a work of art.
Each artist gets a studio apartment with work and living space. The guest is not obliged to contribute anything but his or her creativity during a three-month stay at the village.
This policy has led to more than 200 activities, such as creative writing, painting and music workshops including concerts and exhibitions that bring together Arab and Jewish members of the community.
“Hilai is very revolutionary,” said Corinna, who is herself a writer Hilai, a non-profit organization, is a “place for an artist to create in tranquility and be accepted as a working person with a lot of appreciation and a lot of love. We say the artist and the community need each other very much — and every person is a potential artist.”