Russian Jews Teaching Music to Arab Children in Israel

The Russians are coming – this time to an Arab village near Hadera, which has welcomed eight Jewish emigres, who will teach music to their children.

Some 200 Arab youngsters are enjoying top-quality music instruction at the village’s new music center. And the newcomers from the former Soviet Union have found steady jobs in a tight market.

The center is the first of its kind in an Arab community. It is a joint venture of the Immigrant Absorption and Education ministries, the Jewish Agency and the Histadrut labor federation.

Students pay a symbolic 50 shekels a month (about $20) for lessons at the center, which has a faculty of 10.

Alla Bachodina, who taught electric guitar for 10 years at a St. Petersburg conservatory, says she enjoys teaching Arab children as much as she did their Russian counterparts. “Neither they nor we speak Hebrew too well. So far as language is concerned, we get along just fine.”

None of the teachers had reservations about working in the village, despite widespread mistrust of Arabs among Russian immigrants.

“On the contrary,” says Bachodina, “Arab children are easier to teach. Unlike many Jewish children, they listen.”

Kusai Ghanayem, the director of the center, said it represented a major step forward in teaching music to Arab youngsters.

Ghanayem said he, too, had to overcome certain reservations existing in the Arab sector in respect to the Russian influx.

“But I got over my hesitation quickly. This was an opportunity to introduce something new, and I would not miss it.”

Ghanayem said the undertaking illustrated that the Arabs of Israel, too, could benefit from the new wave of aliyah.

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