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Esther Katz
JCC Dance and Cultural Arts Director

In 2008 a dream was born and in 2019 it finally came true.  Sometimes we don’t realize how lucky we truly are. This community we live in and the community we are connected to are two incredibly special places. In 2008, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, which is located in our Partnership2gether area in the Western Galilee of Israel on Kibbutz Ga’aton, came to Omaha to do some workshops with our JCC Dance department and gave a performance to our community. At that time I learned about the amazing dance program located in our partnership area and from that time on I have tried to get some of our dancers to go to their summer intensive. Last year Leora McNamara paved the way!  She attended the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company’s Summer Dance intensive and loved it! Because of her amazing experience, this year we were able to convince three others to join her! Thanks to the amazing support of the Omaha Jewish  Community we were able to have an experience of a lifetime.

If you’ve never seen Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company(KCDC) perform, I would highly recommend going to their website and checking them out. There is something about a company that is based in Israel that was founded by Holocaust survivor, Yehudit Arnon; the heart and soul in the choreography is so powerful, you can feel the depths of where the movement came from deep in your own body. Their summer intensive is for high schoolers through professional dancers, and it’s for everyone around the world. We met dancers from all over the United States and Germany, France, Switzerland, the Netherlands and more, and surprisingly to me, most of them weren’t Jewish. They weren’t there because of their deep connection to Israel like I was. They were there because this is a world-renowned dance company with amazing training.

The girls spent two weeks in classes from morning until evening and kept busy at night with evening programs organized by the staff there. On the weekends they visited the local beach, had lunch in a nearby Arab Christian Village, Tarshicha, and walked to their market. Our the second weekend we were able to go to Jerusalem for a walking tour with Partnership friend, Idan Zaccai. After our Jerusalem excursion, we made it back north. We were able to meet up with some of the Israeli teens who came to Omaha in December, revisit memories from their time in Omaha and make new ones in Israel. After home hospitality with Partnership friends for Shabbat, we explored Akko and ended with an amazing tour of Rosh HaNikra.
During their busy days in classes, I was lucky enough to travel to our partnership area and meet key staff people who make all of these wonderful programs and partnerships happen. I feel so incredibly lucky to have been able to travel with my dancers to the most special place on earth. If you have any questions about Partnership, please feel free to reach out. If I don’t have an answer, I know where to get it.
Support for this trip came from the Anything Grants supported by the Staenberg Family Foundation and the following Jewish Federation of Omaha Foundation Grants: Albert and Eleanor Feldman Family Israeli Foundation, the Shirley and Leonard Goldstein Supporting Foundation, and the Special Donor-Advised Fund.