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Much More Sweet Than Bitter

Beit Berl’s Film Department held the third annual Bittersweet program, a life-changing initiative for Jewish and Arab teens who learn about filmmaking – and about each other.

In a three-week intensive summer workshop, 16 Jewish and Arab teens met daily at Beit Berl’s Film Department to learn the basics of filmmaking, and to get to know one another. In mixed groups, the participants wrote, shot and edited short films, which were screened during a special evening held at Beit Berl in October in the presence of friends, family and the community. 

The Jewish and Arab high school students reported that the program was a transformative experience since it was a rare opportunity for both groups to get to know peers from the other community. For the Jewish kids, it was the first time they experienced not being the majority culture, and for the Arab teens, it was the first time they participated in a program with Jews and were treated as equals. 

Although the Jewish and Arab teens didn’t share a common language, they found ways to communicate and work together on the film projects – and they discovered that all teenagers share many of the same interests, concerns and dreams. In order to overcome the language gap, everything was translated into both Hebrew and Arabic by the Jewish and Arab counselors and lecturers.

Participants agreed that it was the best summer they had ever had. “It is an incredible learning process and the kids all said that it changed the way they see each other,” said Gilli Mendel, who founded the Bittersweet initiative. 

These are the films that the high school students made during the program:

  • Idols – portrays the idolization of South Korean pop stars that has swept Jewish and Arab young people in Israel. View here: Idols
  • To Save My Life – depicts the challenges of Jewish and Arab volunteers with Magen David Adom as they deal with the trauma of treating victims.
  • The Horse and I – traces the special connection between horses and people as an Arab therapist uses riding therapy with a young Jewish patient. View here: The Horse and I
  • A Scout Called Silver – follows the life of a youth leader in the Israeli Scouts movement, exploring why he chooses to devote himself to the movement, and not to commercial and egotistical endeavors. 

If you would like to screen these films in your community, please contact Sarah Kreimer: sarahkr@beitberl.ac.il 





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