סיפורים ותופינים

בימים אלה בהם חדשות רעות רודפות זו את זו – עוד זו מדברת וזו באה –חשוב מאוד למצוא מקורות לנחמה. כאשר אין לנו שליטה כמעט על שום דבר, והתודעה שלנו נאלצת להדוף תרחישי אימה כאלה ואחרים חדשות לבקרים, חיוני שנשמור על עצמנו ועל אהובי ואהובות לבנו, גם ממרחק.

פרק ראשון: עוגיות אמסטרדם

For English: https://storytellingforsocialchange.company/?p=749

בירושלים יש מקום נפלא בשם "ספר וספל", חנות לספרים יד שנייה וחדשים. שנים לא ביקרתי שם, אבל זכור לי שפעם גם פעל שם בית קפה קטן וטוב, בו אפשר היה לקנות ספרים, לקרוא על כוס קפה ולהרגיש בעולם שהטוב בו מנצח את הרוע. בימים אלה בהם חדשות רעות רודפות זו את זו – עוד זו מדברת וזו באה –חשוב מאוד למצוא מקורות לנחמה. כאשר אין לנו שליטה כמעט על שום דבר, והתודעה שלנו נאלצת להדוף תרחישי אימה כאלה ואחרים חדשות לבקרים, חיוני שנשמור על עצמנו ועל אהובי ואהובות לבנו, גם ממרחק.

סיפורים, בישול ואפייה. זה השילוב שבינתיים עובד בשבילי. אין לדעת מה יביא המחר, אבל בינתיים, מזמינה אתכן ואתכם להצטרף לכמה רגעים של נחמה וטיול בעולמות אחרים.

והפעם: קטע קצר מתוך "יומן שנת המגיפה" של דניאל דפו ומתכון לעוגיות אמסטרדם מתוקות. מי שרוצה להתפנק עד הסוף, ממליצה בחום לשמור כמה עוגיות בצד ולהכין עוגיות גלידה ביתיות (שתי עוגיות שחובקות גלידה משובחת באמצע) שאפשר לשמור במקפיא ולחתוך מהן פיסה של מתיקות סותמת עורקים.

"היה זה בתחילת חודש ספטמבר, שנת 1664, כמדומני, כאשר אני, כמו רבים משכניי, שמענו בשיחות רחוב שהמגיפה שבה להולנד; היא השתוללה שם כהוגן, במיוחד באמסטרדם וברוטרדם, בשנת 1663. מהיכן הגיעה המגיפה? היו שאמרו מאיטליה, אחרים טענו שהגיעה מהלבנט, יחד עם סחורות שהובאו לנמל הבית על ידי הצי הטורקי; ואילו אחרים גרסו שהגיעה מכרתים או מקפריסין. מקור המגיפה היה עניין פעוט; אך כולם הסכימו שהיא שבה להולנד"[1]

עוגיות אמסטרדם ביתיות

למתכון לעוגיות אמסטרדם:  https://mobile.mako.co.il/food-cooking_magazine/ron_yohananov_recipes/Recipe-79a82cdc1650071027.htm

לקריאת קטעים מספרו של דפו בתרגום לעברית: https://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-2346235,00.html


[1] תרגום חופשי מתוך ספרו של דניאל דפו: Defoe, Daniel. A Journal of the Plague Year, written by a citizen who continued all the while in London (p. 1). Kindle Edition.

An Open Letter to My Jewish American Friends

To my dear Jewish American friends,

Over the years, I have expressed my appreciation and love to you all. But today I am writing to you in solidarity.

But first, I want to say thank you.

For the friendship and partnership and for what I have learned from you all in my 30 years as a social change activist and leader.

For your relentless commitment to healing and mending this broken world of ours.

For supporting Israel as a new nation and its burgeoning civil society; its human rights and social justice groups, peace and shard society organizations, feminist and women's organizations, its schools, museums and fringe arts scene, its universities and hospitals.

For standing by us, social change activists, as we are fighting to make Israel the best that it can and should be.

For remaining in deep dialogue with us through some deeply troubling times.

For coming here on family vacations, missions and study tours.  

For listening attentively and with genuine curiosity to the stories we share with you.

For caring about the people who live here in Israel, Jews and Arabs.

For your supportive emails in times of trouble.

Thank you for the courageous conversations about what it means to love Israel even as it turns its back to you and the way you chose to celebrate your Jewish identity or live by your Jewish values.

I know our friendship and partnership will endure, even as our political leaders are waging war on freedom of thought and expression, and even as they label those who hold a different worldview as disloyal or ignorant. I know that the shared commitment for healing the world will withstand this murky wave of politics of hatred.

With love and appreciation,

Hamutal

Israel through a Gender Lens

Issue #6: The Pre-Election Edition

In two days, on Tuesday, September 17th, is round 2 of national elections in Israel. Should we expect a re-run of the April 9 elections, or is it time for a new political story? In an article published on Fathom Journal I argue that: "Too much of the Israeli public is passive and willing to vote against its own interests and desires. While more than 50 per cent of the public, Jews and Arabs support some form of a mutual peace agreement, 71 per cent believe that rule over the Palestinian people is wrong and 76 per cent care more about social and economic issues, nonetheless, more than 50 per cent apparently still want the Likud to win the election. Another Israel may be possible, but not until Israelis embrace their political agency".  Read more here

And people are waking up and are calling their family, friends and neighbors to do the same. With the decrease in women's political representation, Bokra, an Arabic news and content site, in partnership with the "I am a Woman I Vote" network, launched a social media public education campaign reaching out to Arab women in Israel and encouraging them to make their voices heard on election day. Here are the voices of four inspiring leaders: I am a Woman I Vote

Nivcharot (Elected) the Haredi Women's Movement launched a video protesting the lack of representation for Haredi women in politics, and specifically in Haredi parties. The video featuring prominent Haredi women leaders and activists, reflects the absurd reality that there are seats for men only. While it may take a while before women can run for office and be elected for local or national office in Haredi parties, these women are an inspiration to all of us. 

 

 

Issue #5: Women's Wisdom

Women Wage Peace: On the Political Power of Knowledge, Solidarity and Hope

Dafna Hacker took us on a journey of feminist her-story, from late 19th century to current days. "Women should not shy away from power", she said, "and our collective power grows out of our solidarity with women of diverse communities". Miri Rosmarin urged us to use our political power as women to place our perspectives front and center and to address gender power relations as the infrastructure that enables the continuation of the conflict: "Women have a broader spectrum of political emotions; they bring hope – a powerful political emotion – and the quest for a better future".

Prof. Miri Rosmarin addresses WWP activists. Photo by Anat Saragusti

Storytelling and Critical Pedagogy

How many of you visited Ofakim, Kiryat Shmona or Yafi'a on your trips to Israel? Not many, if I was to take a guess. These communities, in the north and south districts of Israel are often off the grid of missions and study tours. But if you were to visit them one day, you will find the women activists who are transforming their communities, fostering resilience, agency and hope.
I had the privilege of facilitating two storytelling workshops: one for the women volunteers of the Resilience Center in Ofakim, a small Jewish town in the Negev, and one for members of the General Assembly of Mahapach-Taghir (Transformation), women activists from Jewish and Arab underserved communities. It was an immersive learning experience in intersectionality and a resounding reminder of the sheer power of stories in constructing critical thinking.
Ask a woman curious, appreciative questions, and the stories will pour out like a fountain, rich with memories of formative events, traditions and legacies handed over from one generation on to the next. Ask women to share their stories and they will offer rich narratives of loss and love, pain and pride, hardships and hope. As women to tell you about their journey towards agency, and they will teach you a valuable lesson about resistance and resilience.
They will tell you about aggressions their endured and the abilities they discovered in themselves; about the first time they realized they have the capacity to lead and about the appetite for change that comes with small and big achievements. They will tell you about the support they offered and received and will proudly show off their children who started out as school kids in the communal learning center they helped or the local youth movement they initiated, who are now making their first steps as leaders in their own right.
Next time you come to Israel, make sure you take the time to meet these women and let yourself be found in their stories.

"From Memory to Story" workshop in Ofakim. Photo by Yahaloma Zchut

Issue #4
Local She-roes

If you are following the news from Israel, you know we are going for national elections again in September. In upcoming issues, we will report on what feminist organizations and activists are doing to make their voices heard in national politics. However, un this week's update, we want to shed light on local initiatives by women who are working to make their cities better and safer for all women and are setting an example for other localities.

Itach-Ma'aki (Together with You) Women Lawyers for Social Justice: City for All

This unique program strives to advance equality for women in Israeli cities by developing and implementing a holistic model for municipal-level gender equality, institutionalizing women’s participation and leadership in local policymaking and making city services appropriate for women’s distinct needs. The 'City for all' model is inspired and informed by a community of diverse women created in Rishon Letsion, a Jewish city on the coastal plain. The program operates in Acco and Haifa, two Jewish-Arab cities in the north of Israel, and Tayibe, an Arab city at the heart of Israel, and works to increase effective leadership of Advisers for Gender Equality, integrate gender inclusive structures within city hiring, program design and allocation of resources. To watch a short video about City for All click here 

She-roes of Beit Shemesh

The unholy alliance between institutionalized religion and politics has far reaching implications on the lives of women and girls in Israel; from issue of personal status, through exclusion in the public sphere and being banned from singing in publicly funded events, to lack of political representation in Ultra-Orthodox parties in the Knesset, to name a few.

However, women are putting up a fight and refuse to be excluded and silenced. Such is the case of a group of amazing women in Beit-Shemesh who, with the help of IRAC – Israel Religious Action Center, have claimed back their city. Dr. Nancy Strichman, an evaluation specialist, lecturer and an avid cheerleader for social change and civil society groups, dedicated a beautiful article on the Times of Israel Blog to these women and their allies:

"A group of local wonder women in Beit Shemesh have an especially large reserve of special powers- courage, unflappable determination and patience- and they have been able to create new alliances to bring change to their city". Read more here

Issue #3
Elections! Again?

"Prime minister failed to mediate between Lieberman and ultra-Orthodox parties, sending Israel to its second election in six months", says the Ha'aretz English edition headline of May 30th, 2019.
As a storyteller for social change, I often seek to make sense of political events by having conversations with people. Anger, confusion and deep mistrust in political leadership and its motivations were the responses I encountered this time. "We have yet to heal from the April 9 elections", people said, referring to the highly toxic and divisive recent campaign.
In seeking to make sense of political events, I am always equipped with my gender lens, my dear and trusted companion that constantly urges me to ask questions such as: "how does this effect women?", and, "what can women do to change this reality?". Hence, I turned to my colleague and mentor, journalist and political commentator Anat Saragusti, and asked her to write a short article that will shed light on the dramatic events of the week.

The Banality of Ego
By Anat Saragusti

The main reason behind the decision to take Israel through another election could be summed up with one word: Ego.
Neither advance espionage equipment nor sharp political savvy would have exposed any other reason for the Knesset to convene at the dead of night on May 29 and decide to embark on another election in three months.
The decision has no practicality to it. It’s all personal. Netanyahu claimed to have won the previous election. But when it came time to put his mandate where his mouth is, he failed. The bottom line is Netanyahu couldn’t form a government. And that is why he didn’t win. Furthermore, the negotiations Likud held with its potential coalition partners proved that even the demands set were, how to put it? Completely personal. All they were interested in was the Immunity Law and the High Court Override Clause. These two were meant to provide Netanyahu with a safety net if and when it was decided to indict him after a hearing. These two prerequisites presented by Likud weren’t meant to better the lives of the public, nor Netanyahu’s voters. Neither was designed to deal with the burning issues on the public agenda: A failing health system, social gaps, the deep divides within society, crumbling infrastructures, lagging public transportation, the withering agriculture, a sinking welfare system, the ever-expanding exclusion of women, the precariously escalating incitement against Israel’s Arab citizens, the delegitimization of the left, and above all – for better or worse – the presentation of Trump’s “deal of the century” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which will now be postponed for many months.
Good or bad, the reveal of Trump’s deal could have altered reality, if only for bringing diplomacy back into the agenda, rejuvenate the discourse around peace, and perhaps even lead to some kind of breakthrough.

This decision must be looked at through two different prisms:
A profound crisis of faith in the political system. When everything is personal, when leaders betray the mandate given to them by the public, when cynicism overtakes sincerity, something in the fundamental pact between us, the public, and our elected leaders, is fractured. The contract which states that we vote for them and they promote the issues we care about was not fulfilled.
This crisis painfully expressed itself in the last election with the generally low voter turnout, but particularly low among Arab citizens, who barely crossed the 50 percent threshold.
The second prism is the practical implication of this decision: the continued freeze over all government activity – the way it has been since the last election was announced in December. A transitional government can’t make important calls, further new topics, allocate budgets or anything.

And above it all hovers, of course, the gender perspective.

These ego struggles were played by men. It’s hard not to sink into the poignant notion that what happened was the result of male thinking which considers everything a zero-sum game. It’s either you or me.
The outgoing Knesset, which managed to sit for solely a month, was characterized by an especially low number of women. But that’s only a small part of the picture. If a government had been formed, it is doubtless that not only it would’ve had few women, but that women wouldn’t have had a real seat at the table, and it is highly unlikely we would’ve seen a woman in the security cabinet, where the critical decision regarding state security, war, and the peace process are made.
Neither side of the political map had enough women with experience, or an ambition to sit on these forums. For this to change in the upcoming election seems far-fetched. Issues that matter to women, such as violence against women, equality in the job market, breaking the glass ceiling and more – were not set front and center in the previous election. It seems dubious that parties seeking our votes would make gender the top of their agenda – not simply by the makeup of their slate, but in a more rooted way, which brings to the things that matter to us to the forefront.
So we all lost in these ego games: The politicians who voted against the conscience and interests, the state – which will now descend into heavy spending, the political system itself, and the voting public, of course. What transpired here is a malevolent use of the democratic toolbox.

Many thanks to Daniel Gouri De-Lima for the English translation of the article

Issue #2: Guns, Eurovision and Iftar

It has been yet another busy week in Israel. The public debate concerning the negotiations to form the new government in the shadow of Netanyahu's "Immunity Law" initiative and the talk of an "Economic Summit" in Bahrein, were the two hot-button issues on the agenda. Oh, and the heat wave.

You can read all about these issues on any Israel English news website of your choice. Hence, in this week's update, we want to share with you stories you will most probably not find there. But these stories are important; they are inspiring, sometimes disturbing, uplifting. They are the stories of women who are dedicating their lives to making Israel a better place. In this week's issue, we bring you stories from Women Wage Peace, Gun Free Kitchen Tables Coalition and from Nena Bar, a feminist disability rights activist.

Speaking up about gun violence in our streets and homes

Gun Free Kitchen Tables coalition, comprised of feminist and human rights groups, has petitioned the High Court of Justice to issue an interlocutory injunction to stop the application of criteria promoted by outgoing Public Defense Minister Gilad Erdan, which significantly ease restrictions on carrying civilian firearms. While the court did not grant the injunction, it did order the State to present the work of Ministry staff on the issue. The conversation on this critical issue will continue, thanks to the coalition's relentless work. Rachel Beit Arieh, founding member of Politcally Corret, a leading independent feminist news and content platform writes:

"Members of the Gun Free Kitchen Tables Coalition, working to minimize the proliferation of arms in the public sphere, say Minister Erdan’s assessment that more firearms means more security, isn’t factually based or rooted in evidence, but relies on the minister’s hunch. “It presents a skewed perception of what security means,” Suchio said". Click here for the full article

Bursting the Bubble of Exclusion

Last Saturday, Israel hosted the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv. Kan 11, the public broadcast corporation, launched a most impressive production, highlighting the wealth of local talent and creativity. For the first time since the contest has been broadcasted, a separate channel was dedicated to making the show fully accessibly to deaf people. Nena Bar, a feminist disability rights leader and advocate wrote in an op-ed column on Tel Aviv TimeOut Magazine about the healing power of been seen, heard and included on and off the stage:

"While all of this did not gloss over the disgrace of the lack of accessibility in the Independence Day ceremony (only a week prior), it shows that here we have it, a revolutionary model that allows us to tell broadcasters: Burst the bubble and learn this new, egalitarian vision presented by Kan. As someone who’s experienced the invalidation of sign language because of an archaic perception of deafness, I felt elevated and complete at the sight of a screen speaking in sign language. The body gives into the vibrant movements of the language in space, and for a moment I felt like I had room in it. In these moments I wanted to reach out and touch the hand of the girl I was, who never watched TV, and say to her – here, it’s happening". For the full article, click  here

On a bright Friday morning earlier this month, more than 200 Women Wage Peace activists from near and far crowded the lecture hall at Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law for the inaugural session of a new program: Women Wage Peace Talk Security, designed to harness the power of knowledge, theory and practice to increase women's participation in decision and policy making processes, most urgently in matters of security and foreign policy.
The inaugural session featured two leading scholars in the field of gender studies: Prof. Dafna Hacker, Head of the Gender Studies Program at Tel Aviv University, and Prof. Miri Rosmarin, lecturer at Bar Ilan University and Senior Research Fellow at the Van Leer Institute.

 

Local She-roes

If you are following the news from Israel, you know we are going for national elections again in September. In upcoming issues, we will report on what feminist organizations and activists are doing to make their voices heard in national politics. However, un this week's update, we want to shed light on local initiatives by women who are working to make their cities better and safer for all women and are setting an example for other localities.

Itach-Ma'aki (Together with You) Women Lawyers for Social Justice: City for All

City for All – This unique program strives to advance equality for women in Israeli cities by developing and implementing a holistic model for municipal-level gender equality, institutionalizing women’s participation and leadership in local policymaking and making city services appropriate for women’s distinct needs. The 'City for all' model is inspired and informed by a community of diverse women created in Rishon Letsion, a Jewish city on the coastal plain. The program operates in Acco and Haifa, two Jewish-Arab cities in the north of Israel, and Tayibe, an Arab city at the heart of Israel, and works to increase effective leadership of Advisers for Gender Equality, integrate gender inclusive structures within city hiring, program design and allocation of resources. To learn more about City for All, click https://youtu.be/drSOuYeTsgc

She-roes in Beit Shemesh

The unholy alliance between institutionalized religion and politics has far reaching implications on the lives of women and girls in Israel; from issue of personal status, through exclusion in the public sphere and being banned from singing in publicly funded events, to lack of political representation in Ultra-Orthodox parties in the Knesset, to name a few.

However, women are putting up a fight and refuse to be excluded and silenced. Such is the case of a group of amazing women in Beit-Shemesh who, with the help of IRAC – Israel Religious Action Center, have claimed back their city. Dr. Nancy Strichman, an evaluation specialist, lecturer and an avid cheerleader for social change and civil society groups, dedicated a beautiful article on the Times of Israel Blog to these women and their allies:

"A group of local wonder women in Beit Shemesh have an especially large reserve of special powers- courage, unflappable determination and patience- and they have been able to create new alliances to bring change to their city". Read more:

My Journey of Storytelling for Social Change

My blog, Storytelling for Social Change, is marking six years since its conception. I planned and gave the first storytelling for social change workshop nine years ago, but my path as a storyteller for social change began many years before that.
So, in honor of the sixth or ninth or fifty-sixth birthday, I sat down to write about some of the stops along my journey, which traces the connections between stories and action for social change. It’s made up of family and work, studies, research and contemplation, activism and action. It’s a voyage being written as one moves forward, with many stops still waiting to be discovered.

First stop: “Until lions have their historians”

I was twenty-six, very much pregnant and severely unemployed. A human resources agency sent me to a temp job as an administrative assistant and language editor for Shatil – The New Israel Fund Initiative for Social Change. Hanging on a wall in the office, which then resided in an apartment on Ramban Street in Jerusalem, was a poster that read:

That poster was one of the reasons I stayed on and became a full-fledged staff member for eighteen years. The proverb summarizes in simple words the importance of stories in shaping public perception, and the influence chroniclers of history have on political power dynamics.
When my personal life capsized, tossing me into a pit to wrestle my demons, I learned the significance of stories in the process of healing and empowering oneself. My pain taught that I am not defined by the searing memories, but by the stories I create from them.

Second stop: Fairy tales

I started my Bachelor studies in the mid-eighties. Dropping out of school became a story of failure. I felt like a woman lost in a crowded train station in which everyone is coming and going at a frantic pace like they know exactly where they're going, and only I was stranded in place. It wasn’t before 2003 that I returned to the Hebrew University to complete my bachelor’s degree in English literature and Interdisciplinary Studies.
I went back to school with the decision to tell a new story, one of completion and coming full circle. One of the first courses I took was in feminist theories on folklore and fairy tales. I immersed myself in ancient tales handed down by oral tradition to alert from danger, prepare for rites of passage and preserve great moments of bravery and wisdom. Many of these stories, whose documentation is often attributed to the brothers Grimm, were told about and by women as part of a tradition of initiation. During my research I found this one from Marina Warner’s book :
"While a poor man’s wife in the village thrives, the Sultana in the palace grows thinner and scrappier by the minute. The Sultan summons the poor man and demands to know the secret of his wife’s happiness. ‘Very simple,’ he replies. ‘I feed her meat of the tongue.’ The Sultan sends out for all the tongues money can buy – ox tongues and lambs’ tongues and larks’ tongues; still his sad Sultana withers away. He orders his litter, makes her change places with the poor man’s wife; she immediately starts to thrive, becoming the picture of health, plumper, rosier, gayer. Meanwhile, in the palace, her replacement languishes, and soon has become as scrawny and miserable as the former queen. For the tongue meats that the poor man feeds the women are not material, of course. They are fairy tales, stories, jokes, songs; he nourishes them on talk, he wraps them in language; he banishes melancholy by refusing silence".

This story, much like the proverb about the lions and their historians, became formative in my life. To this day, whenever I tell it, I feel it is also about me and my struggle to “refuse silence" . I have a fervent need to believe that healing and change begin when the silence is broken. When we take command of the right to tell our own story, to instill it and then release it so it may subvert the stories told about us without us.

"Bluebeard" by Daniel Gouri De Lima

Third stop: The lions’ smile

In 2009, I travelled in my capacity as a consultant to an "Art of Leadership" seminar of the Rockwood Institute for Leadership and Social Change in California. On the first evening, after several introduction rounds, we were asked to stand in a circle and to say, in one sentence, without prior preparation, our statement of purpose. And so, in faraway California, standing in a circle with people I had just met, I heard myself say: “My purpose to tell that which is left untold, to help unheard voices be present and heard.” Those historians-deprived lions, who entered my life some twenty years earlier, must have smiled to themselves a little smile.
In California, I felt like Alice in Wonderland. I too, felt mostly out of place. Too big or too small, a stranger to the language and rules of engagement. Different, even to myself. And perhaps it was being so way out of my comfort zone that allowed me to learn so much. When I returned to Israel, I printed out a new business card which said: Storyteller, adviser and group moderator for social change.

Fourth stop: Your voice can change the story

In the lead-up to the elections for the nineteenth Knesset, in 2012, I started Facebook blog called Your Voice, Your Story. The aim was to use social media to call out people to take responsibility and exact their power to influence the course and result of the elections. This time, the inspiration came from Christopher Booker's "Seven Basic Plots: Why People Tell Stories". Booker's claim is that any story ever told and any story to be told – from folk tales, through literature and poetry, action films and romantic comedies, classical plays to bedtime stories – is shaped by one (or more) of seven basic plots: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, The Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy and Rebirth.
Each day, I shared one story under the title of one of the seven basic plots. This was a way to create for the readers a connection between their personal stories and the inherent themes of these plots and to the political realities of our lives. The goal was to give a name to their struggles for social change, to expose the deep narratives acting to weaken or dismantle these struggles.
And so Shakespeare’s “Othello” became an example for how the prime minister of Israel operates, and the infamous folk tale “Blue Beard” was a starting point for a discussion on sexual violence and silencing practices. These stories evolved into tools for interpreting and acting within the political realm.

Fifth stop: "Can the Subalterns Speak"

My Master's’ studies, though they lasted eight whole guilt-ridden years – towards my job, my family, and school itself – were one of the spaces that allowed to explore, discover and merge different types of knowledge.
In those years, I was the Executive Director of the Dafna Fund, the first and only feminist fund in Israel. It is doubtless that the spirit of Prof. Dafna Izraeli, its founder, was with me. Dafna was an activist, a lecturer, a mentor and feminist thinker, one who always believed in the importance of combining the practical with the theoretical. That which is born in the field and that which coalesces in the library. To me, that union was natural and necessary. Twenty-five years of boots-on-the-ground experience in social change gave depth and meaning to critical theories I was exposed to. On the other hand, the theories provided name and context to the power dynamics in our society, and the injustices that stem from them.
But along with the mutual insemination, I was constantly minding the gap between the potential for liberation found in feminist and post-colonial thought, and their accessibility to those out in the field day by day. Stories for Social Change were decanted from me into that gaping space. They were an attempt to build a bridge between the complicated texts of critical theories and the injustices transpiring around us day and night. Thus came about posts such as Were I human and Redirecting the Gaze

Sixth stop: "Nation of poetry" and the commitment to decipher

In recent years, I am researching the political agency of poetry. There are those who would ponder and say, “But poetry has been used a tool for political propaganda and protest for years,” and this is of course true. But my research didn’t deal with “political poetry,” but the possible contribution poetry could have for creating a nuanced, complex, ambivalent and diverse discourse in the toxic political climate of our times, which flattens every discussion into a rhetorical battle and zero-sum game.
Poetry is a form of highly self-aware literary expression, one that urges us to take greater note of the way language operates. It tugs at the hem of our garment and demands we pay attention to words and the meanings they create, each separately and as they stand together. Interestingly, the common language in our political discourse often acts in the exact opposite way, wearing words out so they are paper thin, until they and what they represent lose almost all meaning.
The most important role of poetry is to grant words their profound purpose, to invite us to stop and linger, be mindful, to feel empathy and compassion. To look inward, at the way life in an impossible political reality has eroded us as well, our ability to feel the world around us, and mostly, the belief in the power to act and make a change.

Epilogue

I was born into poetry, to a poet father, Haim Gouri z"l, whose name often comes up along with the expression “national poet,” an expression which symbolizes his stature within the canon of Hebrew poetry, a spokesman for a generation, of an era. But what I saw, beyond the definitions and the titles, was a man who couldn’t help but write. Writing came from a necessity. It was a mission. I was born and raised into “the personal is the political,” as well as the edict to preserve all of my identities, even when they are in internal contradiction and perhaps at war with each other.
Naturally, my wars were different than his and the course of my life included a willful exile into the fringes, into feminist action for social change and the minor analysis of politics through stories for social change. But the deep root at which our political differences always merged was the agreement to strive for the founding of a society committed to include all of the identities that comprise it.
Poetry was always there and it always mattered. I am profoundly thankful to my father and all the poets whose work has stirred and moved me. That made me stop, linger and marvel at words, and the many meanings they hold within.

 

 

Narratives and Stories

"Hamutal, what is the difference between narrative and story"? A nice man asked me this question following a short lecture I gave on storytelling for social change. I had a long, well articulated response to offer, but we only had a 15 minute coffee break and other people were waiting with their questions. Thus. My short answer was: narrative is our way to remember; story is our way to transform ourselves and our society. We need narratives to remember, to construct our individual and collective identities. However, from the same memories, different stories can emerge.
Sometimes, new stories are born out of situations of crisis and discontent and sometimes they emerge after a long and quiet process, like fruits ripening on a tree. And very often stories need help in being delivered into the world. If you or your organization have reached that exciting crossroad and you simply must tell a new story, please contact me and we will embark on a journey that begins with a narrative and unfolds into a story
Yours, Hamutal consult4good@gmail.com

Sky, fog, and clouds on a textured vintage paper background with grunge stains.

Shana Tova/שנה טובה

English follows Hebrew
שנה חדשה, סיפורים חדשים.
זו הייתה שנה עצובה מאוד. איבדתי את אבי. הוא נפטר בט"ו בשבט, ביום חגם של העצים שענפיהם נוגעים בשמיים ושורשיהם נטועים עמוק באדמה. אבי לא היה יכול לבקש לו יום הולם מזה ללכת מהעולם. השנה למדתי מהו החור הנפער בנפש כאשר אדם אהוב הולך לבלי שוב.
הוא לא השלים את מלאכתו. המלאכה הזו של תיקון העולם לעולם אינה נשלמת ואין אנחנו פטורים ופטורות מלעשות אותה. כל שעה וכל יום.
והיא תובענית ושוחקת ויש בה מעט מהזוהר והרבה מהתסכול ותחושת החובה וזעם קדוש.
והיא שייכת לנו, המלאכה הזו, גם כשעייפנו ממנה וגם כשנשבענו לא לקרוא עוד עיתון ולא לצפות בעוד מהדורת חדשות.
והיא גם מלאכה של אהבה ושל תשוקה; של תקווה ושל אמונה. היא חייבת להיות.
היא מבקשת שלא נפנה עורף ושלא נצדיק עוול אחד באחר. היא מבקשת שלא נזייף ושנדייק את קול המחאה שלנו. היא מבקשת שנתייצב בתקיפות נגד אי צדק ונגלה חמלה כשצריך.
היא מבקשת שלפעמים ניתן לסמן על מסך המחשב להבהב עוד זמן מה עד שיימצאו המילים הנדרשות.
היא מבקשת שלא נחדל כי אנו זקוקים וזקוקות לה.
ומלאכת התיקון הזו מושכת בשולי בגדנו ומבקשת שנספר סיפורים חדשים. שלא נוותר ושלא נחריש.
שתהא שנה חדשה של סיפורים חדשים; סיפורים של אומץ וחוסן ושל נחישות ושל תקווה.

shana tova 2018

New Year, New Stories.
It was a very sad year. I lost my father on Tu BiShvat, the day that celebrates the trees; their branches that touch the sky and their roots deeply anchored in the earth. He could not have asked for a better day to pass from this world. This year I have learned what it feels like when grief drills a hole in your soul.
He never completed his labor of healing this world. One never does, and yet one can never absolve him or herself from it.
It is a demanding labor; one that lacks glamor and often fills us with frustration, an annoying sense of duty and more than a pinch of righteous indignation.
Yet we own it, even as we grow weary of it and even when we swear to never read or watch the news.
Yet it is also a labor of love and passion; one of radical hope and fierce faith. It as to be.
It is asking of us to never look away, nor justify one wrong with another. It is asking us to constantly fine-tune our voices of dissent. It asking of us that we remain steadfast in the face of injustice when need be and show great compassion when necessary.
It is asking of us that we let the curser blink of the computer screen until we find the words that will heal.
It is asking of us that we do not cease because we need her.
She, this never-ending labor, is pulling at our garments and is asking us to tell new stories. She is asking us to not give up and not keep silent.
May the year 5779 be one of new stories: stories of courage and resilience; of determination and of hope.

Alarm and Conquer: On politics of Fear

“So what do you want?”
I want us to stop being afraid. I want us to have a piercing, turbulent, complex dialogue about the fact that this country is shared by two peoples: a Jewish majority and a Palestinian minority. I want vibrant discourse in which many voices are heard, and a joint search for worthy solutions.

Years ago, studying group facilitation, we learned about Projective Identification. The example given to illustrate this interpersonal dynamic was the following: The parents go out and leave their two children home alone. The big brother – afraid of being alone with his little sibling and ashamed to admit it – begins telling him horror stories of the monsters lurking in the dark and the burglars encroaching on the house. With little brother terrified, big brother assumes the role of watchful protector, promising with soothing words that he will safeguard him. Thus, the big brother projects his fears unto his sibling and can take the mantle of adult and saviour.
This pathological dynamic grows more and more characteristic of the relationship between he who leads the Israeli government and the citizens of the state. First they terrify us to death so we feel existentially stifled with fear as we ever were, then they pass the nation-state law and promise us it alone will keep us from harm. They pound us with horror stories of those lurking in the dark — Arabs, lefties, traitors, destroyers of Israel — and persistently delegitimize the sources of our fears.
Let it be clear: real, harsh threats do exist. A nuclear Iran is a very disconcerting scenario. Incendiary kites and balloons are a stark nightmare come to life, and missiles raining on the Gaza border communities and across the Negev pose a true danger. Fear is the most human reaction to a reality which exceeds the foulest imagination.
But it is no less terrorizing when intimidation becomes the form of rule. Because when we’re afraid, our brains shut down to the bare essentials. To the part that asks: “Am I predator or prey? Fight or flight?”
When cowing becomes the method of the government, it is very easy to turn any resistance into a threat. Under the rule of fear, people slowly begin to believe that the only ones capable of leading the country are the very ones violently trampling its essential values. For in a state of terror, things like equality, diversity and democracy become the nonsensical luxuries of the weak and the naive, of those who don’t understand all the Arabs want to chuck us into the sea.
Intimidation is a form of emotional manipulation stripping us, the people, of our agency to rise up and make our voices heard. It insults our capacity to observe reality and form a nuanced opinion.
“I don’t want my country taken from me,” wrote me a friend on Facebook in response to things I had said about the protest against the nation-state law. I wholeheartedly empathize. I too want a country to live in, where I feel safe and protected. I simply don’t believe the path to ensure my security as a Jew treads through stripping the collective national identity of Israeli-Palestinians citizens, erasing their language, culture and history from our shared public domain.

FEAR
“So what do you want?”
I want us to stop being afraid. I want us to have a piercing, turbulent, complex dialogue about the fact that this country is shared by two peoples: a Jewish majority and a Palestinian minority. I want vibrant discourse in which many voices are heard, and a joint search for worthy solutions. I want a discussion that doesn’t force me to choose between security and equality, sovereignty and democracy. I want to stop and ask questions about which kind of “Jewish” nation-state are we talking about. Chief Rabbinate Jewish, or diverse and pluralistic Jewish? I want a conversational space devoid of threats of revoking my “loyalty credentials.” When have we become a monarchy in which subjects are asked to pledge allegiance to the overlord?
Eleanor Roosevelt said “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Yes, we need to step outside of our comfort zone every day and grapple with the fear that comes with venturing into uncharted lands. Yes, It is scary to oppose intimidation. it comes with a price. But if we secede to fear, we entrap ourselves in a mindset of hunter and hunted. I don’t know, for some reason that scenario doesn’t make me feel very safe.

On Storytelling and Organizational Development

What is your organization's story? Can you tell a clear and compelling organizational story in a few short sentences?
Presenting an effective organizational story is critical for Public Relations and marketing; resource development and reaching new markets and investors. But a good organizational story also serves internal purposes; it brings people together around a bold vision, an inspiring statement of purpose; a clear theory of change and well thought out strategies, and most importantly: core values.
A good organizational story is one that grows with the organization; like every riveting plot, it twists and turns as the life of the organization unfold. As the organization gains wisdom, knowledge and experience, its story becomes richer and more complex.
A good story preserves the organizational history and memory; it facilitates learning from successes and failures (YES, failures are an integral part of every story) and enables us to share moments of great pride in our achievements.
Interested in learning more about how to develop a great story for your organization? Contact me at consult4good@gmail.com

 

Storytelling: The Art of Generosity

Storytelling: the art of generosity
Once upon a time, or indeed, many times, in a country far far away, stories were everything from the daily news show; the gossip column; the red alert and the way to share experience, knowledge and wisdom from one generation on to another. Near the fireside or in a small room where women gathered to do their needlework or some other tedious labor, the stories will emerge and come to life. Troubadours shared news from the big city; people shared updates on births, deaths and hungry wondering wolves and secrets and wise advice.
Storytelling was and still is the art of generously sharing useful knowledge in a way that lingered and resonated with folks; because stories help us remember. Even in our era of incessant flow of info; a good story stays with us and reminds us – time and time again – how it made us feel and what it helped us know.
We can learn how to preserve and share knowledge through stories. Contact me to find out more: Consult4good@gmail.com