Shorts: bay area

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‘Good Will’ canceled after visa denied to Israeli Arab

The original play was to be called “Ambassadors of Very Good Will.” Sponsored by the S.F.-based Israel Center, it was to tour college campuses in the Bay Area last week, featuring two actors, an Israeli Jew and an Israeli Arab, who were going to take an honest look at coexistence in the Jewish state.

The play was canceled, after all.

One of the “ambassadors,” Israeli Arab actor Ibrahim Miari, awaits security clearance by the Department of Homeland Security and was denied a visa to enter the United States. (Meirav Kupperberg, the Israeli Jewish actor, got a visa with no problems.)

Miari and Kupperberg were tapped to work with the Israel Center because they were already involved in Traveling Jewish Theatre’s Middle East Project, an evolving collaborative effort that will result in a full-length play. Both actors spent a month here during the summer, and the next phase in the Middle East Project’s development was to begin this week.

But Miari’s case has much greater ramifications than just last week’s play.

“[Miari] is central to this. We’re very committed to this project, and we can’t move forward without him, so we had to postpone our spring workshop,” said Devra Arons, TJT’s director of marketing and audience development, adding that the Middle East Project has recently received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Meanwhile, the canceled play was to be the first part of a three-part series sponsored by the Israel Center showcasing coexistence. Called “Dialogue Through Culture,” parts two and three were planned for later this spring. In addition to two more Israeli Jews, one was to feature an Israeli Arab and one a Palestinian.

In light of what happened, “we’re now in the process of evaluating how to proceed,” said Vavi Toran, director of cultural and educational resources at the Israel Center.

B’nai Shalom to hold psalms celebration

Congregation B’nai Shalom in Walnut Creek will host a weekend-long celebration of the Book of Psalms with “Sing a New Song to Adonai: A Festival of Psalms,” Friday through Sunday, Feb. 27-29.

A full line-up of services, workshops, music and art events is scheduled, including a “Write Your Own Psalm” workshop led by scholar-in-residence Rabbi Samuel Chiel, an author and director of the rabbinic institute at Hebrew College.

Also slated: a musical psalm-chanting session led by Chazzan Marc Dinkin, a psalm fellowship led by B’nai Shalom Rabbi Gordon Freeman and an evening concert performed by the synagogue choir and the chorale Musica Sacra.

Congregation B’nai Shalom is at 74 Eckley Lane. Information: (925) 934-9466, or

Survivor, Palestinian to address students at S.F. high school

Helen Farkas, a local Holocaust survivor, will be speaking to San Francisco high school students about her experiences, but with a twist. She will be introduced by a Palestinian American student, and her talk will be followed with remarks by a Palestinian American in the Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue Group.

The event, which is open to the public, will take place at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11, at Mercy High School Theatre, 3250 19th Ave.

TJT show to benefit Holocaust Center

Traveling Jewish Theatre will put on a special performance of “Times Like These” at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8, with proceeds going to the Holocaust Center of Northern California.

Tickets for the show at TJT, 470 Florida St., S.F., are $100. Information or reservations: (415) 751-6040.

Magnes exhibit looks at Masons

The Western Jewish History Center of the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkeley will unveil a new exhibit, “Jewish Freemasons of the West,” on Sunday, Feb. 15.

Surprisingly, there is a long historical link between Jews and Freemasonry in California. On display through the month of March will be vintage artifacts, some dating back to the 1850s, including certificates, patents, Masonic aprons and photos of tombstones marked with Masonic symbols located at Jewish cemeteries in Mokelumne Hill and Placerville.

This is the first in a series of exhibitions featuring the collections of the Western Jewish History Center. The museum is at 2911 Russell St. Information: (510) 549-6950, or