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Shmulik the Hedgehog Seeks a Friend

This bilingual theater play brings Jewish and Arab children together in Jaffa and  throughout Israel. It tells the tale of an unusual friendship between a hedgehog and a young boy. The message, which the Elmina Theater expresses in a creative and endearing manner, is: We can bridge our differences! Our short video presents clippings of a performance whereby the director and producer explain the concept behind this production.

Shmulik, the hedgehog is lonely and in search of a friend. He encounters a young boy who is  lying in bed sick and is completely bored. Actually, a stroke of luck! The only problem is: Shmulik speaks Hebrew, Gadi only Arabic. Will they nevertheless be able to communicate? The young boy and the hedgehog slowly overcome their language barriers without the need of a translator, just like the children in the mixed audience.  The kids come from both ethnic communities and equally enjoy the performance. They become acquainted with one another in a playful manner while being exposed to the language of the other.

Elmina offers a refreshing, child oriented, and professionally created production. The troupe avoids any moralizing undertones. This enjoyable presentation builds upon the curiosity and fantasy of the children and captivates them in an instant.

Tom Wolinitz, the director, emphasizes that the play does not present an unrealistic scenario, as encounters with „the others“ are in fact a part of daily living. Characters who come from different worlds, speak different languages, and yet become friends, should not be just an unattainable childhood dream in everyday life.

Norman Issa and Gidona Raz, the founders of Elmina, are likewise convinced that adults can learn much from children. Reaching out to one another without bias, bickering and then quickly making amends, would be good examples thereof. As a Jewish-Arab husband and wife team they themselves live in a constellation which many in Israel would not deem a realistic option. Norman, who has a Christian-Arab background, is a renown character actor in television and on stage who is very popular throughout Israel. His engagement and his personal stance on the conflict have earned him quite some criticism in the past. Nevertheless, Norman and Gidona have not given up on their hope for a society which can endure dissimilarity. Through their unpolitical theatre work at Elmina they focus on the youngest, who hopefully have not yet been shaped too much by stereotypes and prejudice.

IrespectU desires to encourage and support Norman, Gidona and the entire Elmina Team. We have thus promoted this project, likewise with financial resources, already for several years. Currently we are sponsoring 20 presentations of Shmulik the Hedgehog. In such manner children from remote Israeli villages will also have the opportunity to see this theatre piece.

To start the video please click the arrow in the center of the second photo from the top. 

Further information on Elmina can be found on our website here >>>

Video: Shmulik the Hedgehog Seeks a Friend

Norman Issa and Gidona Raz

Poster for the Elmina Theatre Festival in December 2016

Jaffa Port