Monday, November 23, 2009

Intergenerational Gems

When I founded the Efrat/Gush Etzion Raise Your Spirits Summer Stock Company more than eight years ago, I wanted to make sure that mothers and daughters, women and children, would share the stage rehearsing, performing, laughing and sharing together.
When I founded the DAMES of the DANCE extravaganzas almost three years ago, I wanted women and teens kicking up their heels together.
These intergenerational opportunities have proven priceless to those involved. The love and kinship of the adults and kids have been enriching experiences for all. My daughter Bati, just nine years old in 2001, was a little lamb on stage in our first production, JOSEPH & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Her master was one of Joseph's brothers, played by my dear friend Fayge. Today, Bati, Fayge and I dance in the same TAP Class. Bati is a head taller than Fayge, but Faye still calls her, "Shepseleh." (Little Lamb) This is a relationship that I know they'll always treasure.
Now I'm involved in another intergenerational opportunity. I study CARTOONING at the Efrat Community Center with talented artist Shlomi Charka. Our class of ten contains eight 10-12 year old boys, a new girl, and me. When I walked through the door at the first class, I thought the boys would have a heart-attack at seeing me, and although they did have their mouths open like giant Cheerios at first, we've grown to respect one another as ARTISTS. We ooh at each others' work and we share a tremendous admiration. They even call me 'Sharon' as easily as they say the names of the guys, "Bar", "Tani", etc.
There are very few opportunities for adults to learn together with kids. That's a shame, because there's much we can learn from one another in these great informal settings.
Personally, I think these projects make me feel younger in spirit and in fact. I've got to stay on my toes to keep up, on stage, in dance class and around the cartooning table. I'm exposed to a younger viewpoint and young ideas that I don't usually hear. I like it. I like to know what young people think and care about.
And it's not only helping me. Interacting with me benefits the kids too. They learn how to speak to adults, and develop social skills they wouldn't have had if they spent their time solely hanging around with the guys. I'd also like to think that my comments, "Your cartoon is great. What bright colors. You're so talented," lift their self-esteem a bit more than a simple grunt from their friends.
Society has become so age-segregated, older and younger folks barely walk on the same side of the street anymore. Intergenerational programs provide us all with a reason for some adult-teen contact, and encourage us to look at one another as individuals, instead of "those strict adults", "those wild teens."
The Community Center and community projects are perfect backdrops for intergenerational opportunities. I look forward to taking advantage of many more. Then the only generation GAP will be the one in the Mamilla Mall.

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