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Opening of the new school library and computer room

Sunday 5 March 2017

On Tuesday, February 27 came the long awaited opening of the new school library, after a renovation that took several months. The renovation itself was preceded by careful planning and a fundraising campaign that bore fruit when the Silman Family Trust accepted the project as a project worthy of their support. Local and UK based members of the family were present at the opening, together with a delegation from the British Friends of Neve Shalom - Wahat al-Salam. The architect too was present for the opening.

The opening event began with an assembly of the students and teachers of the primary school in the courtyard outside of the school buildings. The principal and teachers said some words of welcome, and the school musicians and choir played and sang songs to greet our visitors. The children presented Rachel Dickson and Liz Silman with gifts. Following this, the children dispersed to their classes, the ribbon on the new library was cut and the guests entered the school. Bob Mark stood in the entrance lobby, by the dedicatory plaque, to give some recollections of Julius Silman, the long term English friend of the village, and in whose name the family trust was established.

When the guests entered the library, they were greeted by the chair person of the association of educational institutions, Samah Salaime, in a pre-recorded video, since Samah herself was on a fundraising tour of the US. Rita Boulos expressed thanks on behalf of the village and the communications and development office to outgoing chair person of the British Friends, Jenny Nemko for her dedicated work and involvement over many years, and presented her with a gift. Liz Silman gave a short speech.

Carmella Ferber, the School Principal, explained the revolutionary design and functions of the library and then took the guests into the adjoining new computer room, which has 28 workstations. She lingered by a poster explaining the campaign by the pupils last year who had petitioned for new computers for the school. She sited this as an action that facilitated an understanding of democratic process, and said she wanted to preserve the memory of the action as an object lesson in democracy for future pupils at the school.

Following the school opening, members of the British group as well as some members of the Silman family were hosted by school teacher Michal Moses for an explanation and workshop on the school’s garbage-recycled-as-art program.

The Primary School library and computer center are essential elements in the Primary School’s education program - a place where children of nursery age through primary school can learn to enjoy literature, watch films, do research, or simply relax with a book. The innovative planning, with a soft-covered central stage, four computer workstations, cushions on the floor, a screen and video projector, and intelligent use of space, provides for all of these functions and more. The library renovation was funded not only by the Silman family. Fundraising was done by several associations of friends of Wahat al-Salam - Neve Shalom, including the Swedish and the American Friends. In the USA, the Karma Foundation provided funding for essential equipment, books, furnishings and computers. Funding for the new computer room came from the Ministry of Education and from a grandparent of one of the primary school pupils.

I’m absolutely overwhelmed that the family has been able to contribute this library in my father’s name - it’s absolutely fantastic. I know [my father] would view Neve Shalom - Wahat al-Salam as a beacon of light and hope, and marvel at how it has flourished...
  • Liz Silman

Another member of the British Friends who visited the same day was Zoe Thomas, a granddaughter of Pauline Avigès-Graham, who through her foundation provided the funding for the synthetic lawn and covering that is enjoyed so much by the school children all year round. She was shown the plaque in honor of the donor.
Wahat al-Salam - Neve Shalom is very proud of its continuing connection with the Silman family. Julius Silman was a personal friend of Wellesley Aron, one of the village’s earliest members (and grandfather of musician David Broza). As soon as Aron became involved in support for the village, Julius too threw his weight behind it, helping through the British Friends of Neve Shalom - Wahat al-Salam, contributing funds and through his personal influence. Other early members of the village still remember him.

Thanks to all those who helped to make the opening of the library possible, especially to Rita Boulos of the Group Visits Center, Samah Salaime, chairperson of the association of educational institutions, Bob Fenton who helped to fundraise for the project, all the pupils, teachers and administrative staff of the Primary School, the British Friends of Neve Shalom - Wahat al-Salam, all of our other friends assocations who helped to raise funds for the work, the Karma Foundation and of course the Silman family.

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