St. Louis Arches build bridges with cotton candy

Last summer eleven boys and girls, our city’s fabulous circus performers known as the St. Louis Arches, went to Israel led by Jessica Hentoff, artistic/executive director of Circus Day Foundation. There they joined forces with a Jewish/Arab troupe called the Galilee Circus and toured throughout Israel promoting peace through pyramids and harmony through handsprings. That combined troupe became the Galilee Arches. The multi-cross-cultural social circus project demonstrates what can happen when people of different nationalities and backgrounds build something together.

On Saturday, Feb. 23 from 2 to 5 p.m. Circus Day Foundation/Circus Harmony will sponsor a Cotton Candy Social at City Museum, 701 N. 15th St. in the Circus Harmony Center on the third floor where they will premiere the trailer for the documentary about this incredible journey. The Cotton Candy Social will also feature circus workshops and live performances by the St. Louis Arches and some of Circus Day Foundation’s other circus students. This event is both a thank you to those who helped support the flying children (to Israel and off their trampolines) and as a kick-off to raise funds to bring the Israeli children to America this summer. The minimum donation is $100 either for an individual or for a family. To reserve your place, call 314-436-7676 or log on to www.circusday.org.

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Circus Day Foundation is a non-profit social circus organization that teaches the art of life through circus education and uses circus arts to build character in individuals and to build bridges between communities. Jessica Hentoff, its brilliant an talented founder and director told me that the film is a not-to-be-missed experience. Here’s what she said. “The documentary covers an extraordinary journey that profoundly touched a lot of lives. Through the generous support of a variety of individuals and organizations, 11 American and 13 Israeli young people came together for two weeks last summer and formed the Galilee Arches, their youth circus troupe. They toured Israel and showed the world that it really doesn’t matter where you are from or what your background is. It is who you are and what you do that makes a difference.”

“The Galilee Arches flew together physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. They formed a community that did their part for tikkun olam — repairing the world. They took some pieces of the world and glued them together. The glue was circus, and part of the world is a little bit better now. The Galilee Arches showed the true meaning of trust, courage and teamwork. These daring young circus performers are only children but they have a lot to teach the rest of the world. In the words of Rabbi Marc Rosenstein, from the Galilee Foundation for Value Education who invited us to Israel ‘I think many who saw the shows felt the same tears in their eyes, maybe out of the feeling one is seeing a vision of something that we all long for…the total obliteration of barriers, whether social, economic or gravitational.’ We created an island of peace and cooperation where the building of human pyramids served to build bridges between cultures and create a precedent of possibility that won’t soon be forgotten.”

Notice, please, that most of the words in this column are Jessica Hentoff’s. I asked her permission to use them as I felt that they were more articulate and expressive than anything I could say on the subject. Now I will have my say which is that I hope a lot of you will attend the Cotton Candy Social and help bring the Galilee Circus to St. Louis next summer.

OY, HOLY NIGHT, an hysterically funny take off on the very popular Christmas carol, was penned by my daughter Leslie who, for fun and with help from friends, made it into a video. When she told her daughter (my granddaughter) Claire that she was putting it on YouTube, the do-it-yourself video website, Claire said “Now Mom, I don’t want your feelings to be hurt if nobody watches your video because YouTube is really big” So here is the really big news — after being on line since Dec. 24 it has had a grand total of 50,668 viewers as of today and, says Claire, our YouTube expert, “This is unheard of for a video in which nobody takes off their clothes.” You, too, can see and hear my daughter the songwriter sing in her beautiful soprano voice Oy, Holy Night. Go to youtube.com, click on the VIDEO tab at the top and type in Oy, Holy Night. I promise you a laugh.

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