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December 18, 1981 - Image 45

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-12-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

JERUSALEM — Nafi
Selach has a truly radical
approach to the social prob-
lems of Israel. Bringing
theater into under-
privileged neighborhoods,
he relates to them deeply
and intimately. He hopes to
be able to fundamentally
change the lives of those
who work with him.
He knows all the prob-
lems of the distressed

Katamonim area of
Jerusalem because he grew
up there, and after two
years studying film and
theater at the Ontario Col-
lege of Art, returned to live
in the house where his par-
ents raised him.
The son of Iraqi Jews who
came to Israel in the early
1950s, he is proud of his ori-
gins and of his struggle to
make his own way, despite
the odds against him. Nafi
builds neighborhood theat-

Hellman on Being Jewish

During a recent inter-
view, author Lillian
Hellman discussed being a
Jew:
"I myself make very
anti-Semitic remarks but I
get very upset if anybody
else does. I wasn't brought
up as a Jew. I know almost
nothing about being one —
I'm sorry to say — though
not sorry enough to go to the
trouble of learning.

"I've asked myself many
times what I would have
liked to have been born and
decided a long time ago that
I was very glad I was born a
Jew. Whether brought up as
one or not, somewhere in
the background there was a
gift of being born a Jew."

NAFI SELACH

ers wherever he can in the
poorer parts of Israel, stay-
ing in each place as long as
needed to get the project
moving.
As director of "The
Closed Circle," Naftali
Selach presented
Jerusalem audiences
Poverty of speech is the with an original produc-
outward evidence of poverty tion for the stage which
dramatized the predica-
of mind.
ment of one prisoner's
seemingly hopeless
yearning to be accepted
by a society which has re-
jected him virtually from
birth.
Within 4 Mile Radius
"I focused on one file,'
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emphasized the compact,
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firery-eyed community
worker who aspires to use
I
the magic of theater to
change the world. "I started
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with one two-year-old kid
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who is thrown out of his
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family, lived in several
closed institutions, reform
schools and prisons, and I
take him all through his de-
velopment as a criminal up
Now Serving Brunch . .
to where he's on stage as an
actor." _
Every Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
There is a rough, spon-
taneous quality but also a
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very cunning wisdom be-
(Brunch Price Includes Beverage) $ 4" 12 iit eu irlider
hind Nafi's work. It's more
than social work — provid-
ing young kids who have no
special aptitude except for
getting into trouble, with a
whole new world to re-
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create their personalities.
And as theater it subtly de-
mands that the audience get
involved in the problems
being acted out on stage.
The principle focus of his
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work, he said, is to use
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so much for the audience
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but in order "to help people
from the community de-
velop their own individual-
ity." The conditions of his
theatrical work have often
been very tense, with many
North of 10 Mile Rd.
of his cast dropping out,
being drafted into the army,
or getting into trouble with
the police.

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Nafi has been involved
in community theater
since the early 1970s, first
as an actor, then as direc-
tor of "Mechanical
Youth," a musical which
received third place in an
international festival in
Berlin. "When you send
kids from the neighbor-
hood to" represent Israel
in Germany, it turns out
to be a very important
thing," Nafi points out.
"In 'Closed Circle' we
show how one individual
started to become a crimi-
nal, how he studied to be a
criminal in the penal sys-'

tern. He wasn't born a crim-
inal. He didn't suddenly
start stealing at 20-years
old. If you were in his place,
maybe you would do it too.
"We have to change the
system. You can take a kid
and teach him piano and
he'll become a genius of the
piano. You take him and
teach him to steal and he'll
become a genius at that."
The biggest problem- for
former prisoners, Nafi be-
lieves, is the vicious cycle of
continuing rejection By
society. "If they felt that
society would accept them,
I'm almost sure they could
change. But if they feel that
everyone rejects them more
and more, they just get
meaner and more full of
hatred."
Nafi said he does not
believe at all in working
within the present penal
system because "if the
basic situation is sick,
two or three hours a week
of therapy can't change
it."
Nafi believes that the
sheer difficulty of effecting
any real improvement ha§
too often been ignored. For
example, in the case of the
young actor who protrayed
his own case-history in
"Closed Circle," it took sev-
eral months to create a basis
of trust. At first he was so
nervous that no one could
come anywhere near him.
During rehearsals the
police kept showing up to
arrest the actor because of
his long record of offenses.
Also, Nafi noted, the under-
ground holds a grudge and
tries to take revenge- on
anyone who wants to rise
above former associates.
Except in special cases,
such as his own theater
group, Nafi pointed out, an
ex-prisoner often has no one
to turn to for support in his
struggle with both sides of
the law.
"The Ashkenazim, I'm
sorry, don't understand
the problem. They think,
`I won't accept this guy. I
won't accept Mizrachi
(Sephardim): They've
split this country half and
half. If the people con-
tinue to think in terms of
Sephardi - Ashkenazi,
this issue can kill the
country. Jews of Oriental
origins are in the major-
ity in Israel — why not
give them a fair chance?"
About efforts to rehabili-
tate slums by politics, either
reform or protest, Nall is
pessimistic. "It's like your
cake didn't turn out right, so
you put a little more cream
on so it'll look good: they
come in and try to make the
slums look pretty, it can
never work. The only thing
you can do with a slum is to
close it down and help the
people move ,to better
neighborhoods."
"Most of the people here,
they're simple people who
think this is the way life is,
and accept it. They know it's
impossible to make any big
change. They look at local
protests as just something
to add some spice. And it is
unusual to believe in the
religion of helping someone

45

Israeli Sifting
Dunes on Mars

Israeli Actor is the Spotlight on a Troubled Stage

By JAMES LEWIN
World Zionist Press Service

Friday, December 18, 1981

else."
Nafi Selach's way of liv-
ing with those needing help,
activizing them creatively
and helping them to help
themselves, can perhaps
only be carried out by some-
one like him, who is himself
the product of childhood and
youth in a distressed area.
Recently he accepted and
carried out a new project in
Ashdod and now he is teach-
ing potential neighborhood
theater directors in
Jerusalem. Apparently he
is a man who thrives on new
challenges.

Egyptian Play
Set for Israel

BEERSHEBA — An Is-
raeli expert on sand dunes
developed such ingenious
techniques to measure the
formation and drift of dunes
that he was called on by the
U.S. National Aeronautics
and Space Administration
to analyze thousands of its
latest photographs of Mars.
Dr. Haim Tsoar of Ben -
Gurion University's Geog-
raphy Department has
treated sand dunes in Sinai
with fluorescent dyes,
which allow him to trace the
wind's eroding and shifting
effects on dunes. His result-
ing accurate measurements
enabled him to chart wind
behavior on Mars for
NASA, based on photo-
graphs of the planet's sur-
face taken by the Viking
space vehicle from 1976 to
1980.
As a result of such work,
Dr. Tsoar is teaching the
first course ever offered in
Israel in planetary geoMor-
phology.

HAIFA (JNI) — Bari
Simon of Haifa will belly-
dance her way to normaliza-
tion next month in the City
Theater's production of
"Gossip on the Nile," the
first contemporary Egyp-
tian play to be produced in
Israel.
Simon will perform in the
play, written by Egyptian UJA Appointee
NEW YORK — Barbara
playwright Naguib
P. Faske, has been ap-
Mahfouz.
Born in Haifa to Moroc- *pointed national director of
can parents, Simon learned conferences and seminars
belly-dancing from Egyp- for United Jewish Appeal.
tian films on Israel TV and
videotapes of leading Egyp-
tian dancers. Her
grandmother danced an-
nually at the Maimuna Fes-
tival celebrated by North
African Jewry.

MOVIE
GUIDE

BERKLEY THEATRE

Administration
Called Unique

JERUSALEM (JNI) —
Israel is unique in submit-
ting its military govern-
ment to the authority of its
Supreme Court, concluded a
new book on Israeli military
rule in Judea, Samaria and
Gaza, written by Moshe
Negbi, a jurist and news
editor at Israel Radio.
The historically and le-
gally unprecedented deci-
sion on authority was made
after the Six-Day War,
Negbi wrote. Most recently,
the East Jerusalem paper
Al Fajr appealed to the high
court over its closure by the
military government.

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