Published on israel21c.org, by Lee Cohen, Sept. 23, 2007.
The outbreak of the second intifada in 2000 had a profound effect on Dr. Edna Calo Livne. An Italian immigrant who married a veteran kibbutznik from Kibbutz Sasa in northern Israel, Calo Livne was no longer able to stand on the sidelines as the drama played itself out on national television.
Instead, Calo Livne took action, launching the Beresheet Lashalom Foundation, dedicated to promoting dialogue across diverse groups in the region through one of the most potent channels of communication – the stage …
… The children from Sderot, under daily rocket fire from terrorists in the Gaza strip, have been deeply affected by the ongoing barrage on their city. “They feel like they have been deserted. It’s hard for them to trust,” relates Calo Livne. “In the beginning, the children were like ice. It took time until they ‘melted’.”
They experienced a vastly different reality as they explored the countryside, going sightseeing in Rome, Pompeii, Amalfi, and more. The visit focused on enhancing understanding and knowledge of the area and each other including swimming, playing games, and partaking in music, dance, theater, and art activities. During their stay, the children were also able to interact with the locals, learning the art of parading with medieval flags and riding on horses pulling a variety of carriages.
Through their various efforts, particularly the theater group, Beresheet Lashalom has begun to make an impact in Europe. Well known throughout Italy as the recipient of prestigious peace prizes, Beresheet is intent on showing the human faces and hearts of Israelis of all cultures and religions. According to Calo Livne, the performances and messages leave audiences hopeful, and have helped to change the image of Israel in Italy.
“During this difficult period in world history, there is a will to create a positive message, capable of inspiring hope and fulfilling the dreams of those who knew war, but now aspire to peace,” concluded Calo Livne. (full text).