Elaine Bermitz attended JNF UK’s Festival of Spoken Ivrit as the Orna Porat Theatre visits King David High School.
JNF UK has entertained and educated over 2,500 pupils across the UK during the past fortnight with its second Festival of Spoken Ivrit. Following in the footsteps of the inaugural festival in 2019, this year’s tour featured three new plays from Tel Aviv’s Orna Porat Theatre.
JNF UK hosted a breakfast reception at King David High School before the presentation by the Israeli theatre group to the high school pupils. Accompanying the delicious food was an opportunity to speak to the head of JNF UK who had organised the project and to Amichai Pardo, one of the main actors in this educational theatre company. Established for many years, the company’s purpose was to spread the use of Ivrit through plays for school children. in order that they can communicate should they want to visit Israel or make Aliyah.
Beginning in English, the stories were then told in Ivrit, meaning children could begin to speak and understand a little more Hebrew as the play progressed. As well as two traditional children’s stories – ‘The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse’ and ‘Ten Matchboxes’ – this year also featured a non-fiction play for the first time. ‘Herzl: A Dream That Came True’ was an interactive re-telling of the life of Theodor Herzl. The play included pupils taking on the roles of various individuals that Herzl encountered while promoting his vision of a Jewish state.
The Orna Porat Theatre company is the foremost educational theatre company in Israel and this experimental piece went down very well will the children, especially those who were most restless at the start of the show. Through interaction and building dialogue between the actors and the audience, theatre encouraged the development of communication skills, as well as an enthusiasm for theatre as an art form.
JNF plays a big part in the education of schools through the provision of computers and educational tools and Mr Goodman, one of the teachers at King David High School thanked JNF UK for its generous backing of King David’s educational projects.
Yonatan Galon, CEO of JNF UK, commented: “A shared language is one of the strongest connections between Jewish communities, whether they are here or in Israel. JNF UK is very proud to see how the festival continues to grow each year. It’s been a genuine delight to see so many young people picking up Hebrew in such a dynamic way.”