St. Louis Arches will host Israel’s Galilee Circus


A St. Louis youth circus troupe that traveled to Israel last summer to study and perform with an Israeli circus group will be reunited with their overseas counterparts this summer when they bring the Israeli troupe to St. Louis at the end of the month.

The St. Louis Arches, a group of children between the ages of 8 and 18 are from Circus Day, a program run within the City Museum downtown. Eleven children from the St. Louis Arches traveled to Israel in 2007 to work with Galilee Circus, a youth program for Arab and Jewish children from Northern Israel.


The combined group trained and performed as the Galilee Arches.

This summer, from July 30 through Aug. 13, the Galilee Arches will be reunited in St. Louis, with a number of performances offered to the public.

Jessica Hentoff, director of the Circus Day Foundation, worked to raise the more than $45,000 needed to bring a dozen of the children from the Galilee Circus and their chaperones.

Hentoff said the group is still looking for donations of money, food, volunteers for homestays and even bedding for the visiting troupe. Organizations can also sponsor shows by the combined troupe, she said.

Hentoff has planned a full “American experience” for the children from Israel, including sightseeing, a trip to Trout Lodge in the Ozarks, and stays in St. Louisans’ homes.

Of course, the combined group will also present numerous shows, at the City Museum and elsewhere, including an Aug. 6 performance sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League at the Center of Clayton at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Admission for that show is $10 per person. A full listing of shows is available at

Hentoff said the Arches’ trip to Israel had been an enlightening experience for the children.

“There was such an instant bond between the kids,” she said. “They were so excited to be working together. I had to bring them together again.”

Although most of the Israeli children spoke little or no English, the children worked together to form a new circus performance, and enjoy each other’s company, she said.

“Circus is a common language,” Hentoff said. “The kids were loving performing together and watching each other perform, just laughing and clapping the whole time.”

Rabbi Marc Rosenstein, director of the Galilee Circus, told the Jewish Light last year that he heard about the Circus Day Foundation’s Circus Salaam Shalom (it has since evolved into the Patchwork Circus) which brought together Jewish and Muslim children in St. Louis following the Sept. 11, 2001 tragedy.

In a statement, Rosenstein said many people were moved by seeing the Israeli and the American groups coming together.

“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.”

For more information, or to donate to Circus Day, contact Jessica Hentoff at 314-436-7676 or