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Knesset Speaker Rivlin reacts to the Sderot play.
Sderot Media Center

Sderot Media Center

Sderot Teens Perform in Knesset Thanks to the Support of Winnipeg Jewish Community

By Anav Silverman, Sderot, June 29, 2010

Thanks to the Winnipeg Jewish community's support of the Sderot  Community Treatment Theater, Israeli teens recently performed a  play about rocket life in the Israeli Knesset.
In May of this year,, a group of talented students at the religious AMIT high school of Sderot found themselves fulfilling a lifelong dream. Rotem Timsit and nine other Sderot high school-aged aspiring actresses who attend Sderot Media Center's Community Treatment Theater, together with "Savta Haziza," a real-life grandmother from Sderot, got to perform in the Knesset recently this past May.
Before a full house that included Knesset Speaker MK Reuven Rivlin, former Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and other Knesset Members, as well as students from Boyar High School of Jerusalem, the girls performed "Children of Kassam Avenue". A theatrical production that tells the story of teenage girls growing up under rocket fire, the play is based on the true life experiences of the Sderot girls, who spent a year undergoing drama therapy to overcome PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) symptoms resulting from rocket terror. 
“This is more than just a play,” said Noam Bedein, director of Sderot Media Center. “The idea of this production is to inspire a change in perception of the Sderot-Gaza conflict. The past decade of rocket attacks, and the tremendous psychological damage done to a population of young children and teenagers, is  ften completely ignored or overlooked by mainstream media both in Israel and internationally.”
"The first place to begin this change of perception is in the Knesset," said Bedein. "We hope that our political leaders recognize the powerful advocacy tool we have established in this community theater concept. This is the only platform out there presenting Israel's side of the Sderot-Gaza conflict through the voices of Israeli youth who have suffered from Gaza rocket attacks. " 

Knesset Speaker Rivlin, who invited the Sderot girls to perform in the Knesset, stated that he personally appreciated the girls coming to share their painful reality through the art of theater. "This production is something that was able to draw us all into a reality that is foreign to most of us. The war that took place in Sderot and the western Negev felt like a war taking place in another country," Rivlin stated.

"The girls showed great talent in their performance," he added, "but even more importantly they demonstrated to us what these Kassam rockets can do, that they are lethal and terrifying."

Former Defense Minister Amir Peretz, himself a resident of Sderot, noted that the rocket terror could have impacted the girls in two different ways: "The situation could have led them to a complete breakdown or generated resilience and strength as demonstrated here today."

"This message of resilience is for the entire State of Israel. We must remember that Sderot, a city of working class citizens, was able to withstand a terrible test while demonstrating unique courage in the face of continued rocket attacks," said Peretz. Students of Boyar High School of Jerusalem, who come from all over Israel, sat quietly during the entire performance, as most witnessed for the first time what life was like for fellow Israeli teenagers growing up in the rocket zone of Sderot and the western Negev.
During the question-and-answer-discussion after the performance, a Boyar student asked if any of the girls would continue to live in Sderot and raise their children there. Sixteen-year old 10th-grader Rotem Timsit answered, "We still love our city and will continue to live in Sderot, and yes, I can see myself raising my family here."

For Rotem, the performance in the Knesset was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, which she hopes will continue. "We came to share our story and show the rest of Israel, and especially our political leaders, how a decade of rocket terror, condensed in this one-hour show, will not drive us out of Sderot."

The performance by the girls in the Knesset was made possible  with the $3000 dollars donated by the members of Winnipeg's Jewish community, in addition to other contributions.

Special thanks also goes to Janet Lehr of New York for her support of the Sderot Community Treatment Theater.
 Anav Silverman, a native of Maine, has been living in Israel for the past six years. She is the international correspondent for Sderot Media Center:

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