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Rikudei-Am: Connecting Darchei Noam's youth to Israeli Culture

01/06/2016 04:57:43 PM


Rikudei-Am, Israeli Folk Dance, reflects the multi-cultural nature of Israeli society.  Like Canada, Israel was built by immigrants who brought their diverse styles, ethnic rhythms and dances from every corner of the globe.  Israeli culture reflects this mix of ethnic backgrounds and like Israeli society, Rikudei-Am is a mosaic of diverse traditions and styles.

Israeli folklore is unique in its readiness to explore the old and embrace new trends. Likewise, Israeli Folk Dance embraces our old traditions while recreating itself every day and with every new tune. Rikudei-Am dances are set to current Israeli songs, which fosters strong ties between the dancers, the Hebrew language and Israeli culture while encouraging a group activity that has a high social value and is a fun form of exercise.

Many Jewish communities around the Diaspora recognize the value of Rikudei-Am and champion this form as a vehicle to achieve community goals, from connection to Israel and Israeli culture, to attracting youth to participate and interact with other youth in their community and beyond.

Rikudei-Am has become a key part of the curriculum of Darchei Noam's Hebrew School. Each week, students learned dances, and a group of students from grades 3-6 prepared to perform at Toronto's community-wide Rikudiyah program. The children were enthusiastic participants in the program and they had a meaningful experience while having a lot of fun.

Rikudiyah is Toronto's only community-wide program for elementary school students that provides a wonderful opportunity for children to engage in Rikudei-Am. It targets students in grades 3, 4, 5, and 6, and it celebrates Rikudei-Am in an annual concert in which the students perform a medley of dances. The students practice the dances for the Rikudiyah from January-April.

Rikudiyah introduces generations of local Jewish children to the rich heritage of Israeli Folk Dancing. To reduce the pressure on the children to perform during the concert the instructors and assistants dance with their groups and all groups perform together.

Next year, I look forward to an even larger group of students from Darchei Noam joining me for this exciting community event. 

Darchei Noam member Ronit Eizenman is the Director of Nirkoda Israeli Dancers of Toronto and the Hora Nirkoda Israeli Dance Group for Youth, and the Co-Founder of the Dor LeDor Project. She teaches Israeli folk dancing at Darchei Noam's Hebrew School. 

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