Dance competition, fashion art, crafts on tap for younger set

OK, so the theme of Israel in the Gardens is “green.” But this year it’s also a little bit more “teen.”

“We found in years past that the after-party brought the young adults and the educational activities brought the families. But for the teens, we were lacking,” said Ronit Jacobs, director of Israel in the Gardens. “So we’re reaching out this year. It’s the best time for them to develop a real connection to Israel.”

Teens who attend the annual Israel in the Gardens will see several new activities created just for them, including:

Fashion Show of recycled “clothing”

Ofira Avisar, an Israeli artist, will work with teens to create clothing out of newspapers, and then showcase their work with a fashion show.

“I’m really excited to see how it will turn out, I see so much potential,” said Hila David, a senior at Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Algo, who helped plan some of the teen activities.

• Shesh besh competition

From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., teens can play one of Israel’s most popular games: backgammon (shesh besh). The game is one of luck and skill.

Students from Jewish Community High School of the Bay in San Francisco and Kehillah Jewish High School in Palo Alto will lead the shesh besh competition.

• Arts and crafts

Parents with younger children won’t be left out either, said Rena Shachar, education coordinator for Israel in the Gardens.

The same artist on tap to create fashionable clothing out of newspapers will work with younger children to create fish and sea creatures out of recycled materials. The arts and crafts activity is a natural follow-up to a film screening of Ziggy Livnat’s documentary about the Red Sea, which is geared to young audiences.

“When we focus on a subject like the environment, and let them learn about some positive aspects, kids can connect to it in a very enthusiastic way,” Shachar said. “Kids in California are already into conservation and the environment, so when we can tie it to Israel, it’s a double score.”

Shachar and Avisar already have worked with Bay Area day schools to create a huge Israeli flag out of 2,500 recycled blue and white grocery bags. When it’s finished, it will measure 32 feet by 16 feet, and will be on display at the daylong festival.

• DanceElation

In partnership with Jewish Family and Children’s Services, teens can participate in a dance competition that’s all about a chance to shake your groove thang.

“The émigré teens all do ballroom dancing, so we started polling them on ‘would you come to a dance competition?'” said Chana Andler, communications director for JFCS.

When it became clear they would, DanceElation was born.

From noon to 3 p.m. in Yerba Buena Gardens, teens can come with a team or join a team that day to compete for prizes in good-natured categories like biggest team, best costume, best name, best choreography and most spirited.

Those without the performance gusto can take hip-hop and Israeli dance lessons while a DJ spins Israeli pop records. The $10 registration fee goes to victims of the Second Lebanon War in northern Israel.

Stacey Palevsky

Stacey Palevsky is a former J. staff writer.