About 55 art students from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design Jerusalem spent Israel’s Day of Good Deeds last month painting murals and fixing up a playground in nearly a dozen Arab and Jewish schools in east Jerusalem and Ramla.
The Bezalel students contributed to two projects in honor of Good Deeds Day. The first, in conjunction with the Paley Art Center, saw a group of Bezalel volunteers, headed by Raeda Saada, arts lecturer at Bezalel and head of the Center, painting murals in 10 east Jerusalem schools.
According to Saada, this project fits in perfectly with the Paley Art Center’s aim of promoting the importance of art and awareness. “Art is an educational tool, which helps develop thought,” she says. “It is a means of expression and representing a unique identity, as well as a form of spiritual therapy.
“The goal of the Center is to organize art-oriented activity in east Jerusalem and promote the importance of art and awareness to the key role that it plays in our culture, as well as encourage artistic talents and self-expression through creation. We currently organize a variety of activities at the center for kids, including visits to exhibitions, as well as drawing and photography classes for children with a passion for art,” says Saada.
“Bezalel Flowers”, the teenagers being mentored by Bezalel students, participated with their mentors in the second Good Deeds project in Ramla – working with the neighborhood’s Jewish and Arab residents to rebuild and decorate the playground at an Arab school and paint murals at a religious Jewish school.
“Bezalel Flowers” is an initiative that began six years ago when the Bezalel Academy opened its doors to youth from various economic environments and from different backgrounds (Jews, Arabs, religious, secular) in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. Every Sunday, 110 children (from 10th to 12th grade) come to the Academy and work with Bezalel students who help them nurture their talent and develop new skills.
“The program lasts three years, during which these high-school students are introduced to the abundant offerings of the various departments at the Academy,” Tamar Arman, who runs the program. “The fact that the participating pupils study in an academic environment constitutes a means for boosting their motivation to higher achievements in the present, and forms a bridge to higher education in the future.”
The goal of Good Deeds Day is to encourage volunteering and contribution to the community. In previous years, tens of thousands of Israelis participated in volunteer projects on this day. Last year, over 70,000 volunteers participated in 1000 projects, in 130 cities and regional councils across Israel.
Initiated by Shari Arison, with the contribution of the Ted Arison Family Fund, Good Deeds Day is organized by the Ruach Tovah (Good Spirit) organization.
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