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Dallas Jewish Week

Walk across Israel one step at a time

JCC introduces 'Map of Israel' at Arts Fest 2002


by Deborah Silverthorn

Special to DJW

Israel's tourism numbers are about to boom. Not literally, perhaps, but for those unable to get on a plane and travel, the JCC's 7th Annual Jewish Arts Fest will present, for the first time, an incredible opportunity to get close.

A 380-square-foot floor map of the State of Israel will be on display at the Arts Fest so visitors can take off their shoes, "walk through the country," and learn more about the geography - and the modern, biblical and political history - of the country.

Designed and produced in Israel by inventor Yoel Amster, the map is 27'x13' and is full of vibrant colors. The design is printed, with a specially designed inkjet printer, on a heavy vinyl canvas, and an inflatable frame borders the map. "We wanted guests to not just take another step on flat land," said Michael Barlow of Worldwide Educational Materials, which has partnered with Amster's company to form Attractive Land, Inc. "This way you step 'into' the land. There is a conscious effort to lift your leg and make a definite entrance. It's a mindset, but it's amazing."

Jeff and Laura Seymour and their family donated the map, which took just weeks to make, to the JCC. For Laura Seymour, director of early childhood education, the map is going to let many enjoy and learn more about the State of Israel. "I fell in love with the map when I first saw it at a CAJE (Coalition of Advancement of Jewish Education) conference a number of years ago," said Seymour "but it there wasn't any room in the JCC's budget for it at the time. When the subject came up again this year, we, as a family, felt this was an incredible gift we could share with the JCC and with the Jewish community at large."

Jeff and Laura Seymour and their family donated the map, which took just weeks to make, to the JCC. For Laura Seymour, director of early childhood education, the map is going to let many enjoy and learn more about the State of Israel. "I fell in love with the map when I first saw it at a CAJE (Coalition of Advancement of Jewish Education) conference a number of years ago," said Seymour "but it there wasn't any room in the JCC's budget for it at the time. When the subject came up again this year, we, as a family, felt this was an incredible gift we could share with the JCC and with the Jewish community at large."

"We are so excited about having the map in time for Arts Fest," said Kathryn Frisch, co-chair of the event. "This is such a special gift from the Seymour family, and that we get to introduce it to the community, with thousands in attendance, is a real treat."

There are over 50 such maps around the country and they are used in synagogues, churches, schools and other organizations interested in learning more. "As president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma, I saw the map and felt our community would so benefit from it. Since its debut last July, the response has been incredible," said Barlow, who is also president-elect of OKIE, the Oklahoma-Israel Exchange, a business and cultural exchange program. "There are so many people who would love to travel to Israel, but for so many reasons can't or don't, and this allows an educational experience unlike any other."

After the Arts Fest, the map will make its home at the JCC, and visitors as well as the students of the pre-school, camps and participants of other programs will be able to take the "tour" as well. "There are so many ways to use the map and I'm sure we'll come up with more as time goes on," say Seymour. "Science lessons about the Dead Sea, geography, music there's an endless amount of excitement and education that will come from this beautiful map."

The map is custom designed and includes inset maps showing the size ratio of Texas to Israel, a map of the entire Middle East region and a map showing where each of the Tribes of Israel came from. "In Camp Chai (at the JCC)," said Seymour "we separate groups by naming each one after a different tribe. We felt this was a wonderful addition to the map and something we'll use very creatively."

Seymour and others at the JCC will be receiving training from Barlow on how best to use the map. "It comes with games, puzzles and other programs. Once we review them, the facilitators will be looking to work with others in the community who might want to share in the map and its lessons," said Seymour.

"I am looking forward to coming to Arts Fest," said Barlow, "and to letting the whole community in on this experience. Parents and grandparents will show their children where they've traveled to and in turn, teens and young adults who've returned from Israel will share their trips with more depth. From the Seymour family, clearly dedicated to Jewish education and with hearts for Israel, this is a very precious gift indeed and I am thrilled to have the chance to open that gift with all of Dallas."

Tickets for the Arts Fest are: adults, $12 in advance or $14 at the door; youth ages three to 15, $6 in advance and $8 at the door; and children two and under, free. For more information, call the JCC at (214) 739-2737. For information on Attractive Land, call (866) 424-4627 or visit their Web site tiveland.com>.


This story was published in the DallasJewishWeek
on: Thursday, August 1, 2002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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