JERUSALEM — Musician Itzhak Perlman’s prize fund granted more than $500,000 to 14 projects that will bring classical art to people with disabilities, among them an initiative at the Jordan River Village.
The Jordan River Village, located within Milwaukee’s Sovev Kinneret partnership region in northern Israel, has seen many visitors from Wisconsin-based missions. The Jordan River Village is a free-of-charge, year-round overnight camp for all children — including Israeli Jews and Palestinians — living with disease or special needs.
An April 2 awards presentation was hosted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his office. The award to Jordan River Village was for its Touch of Music program.
The Village is a cluster of buildings near the Sea of Galilee, with a large pool, recreation facilities and advanced medical facilities on site.
Since it opened six years ago, the Village has seen more than 1,700 children annually, so that they can experience “the joy of childhood and the magical healing power of camp,” according to the organization. The camp was founded by the late Murray and Marilyn Grant, along with actor and philanthropist Paul Newman.
Children attend the Village’s overnight camp to experience activities like art, music, and theater workshops; visiting an adventure tower and petting zoo; playing in a gymnasium; and communal mealtimes. For the campers, these are not trite activities — the idea is that each enables them a chance to feel like any other kid.
“The initiative of Yitzhak Perlman and the Genesis Prize gives hope and inspiration to future generations of artists and social activists and demonstrates the universal importance of the values of the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said at the awards presentation, according to a news release.
“If we give [people with special needs] tools to create and to contribute to society, we will advance towards the vision of Israel we all want to see and bequeath to our children,” Perlman added, according to a release. Perlman is a violinist and conductor.
The Village’s 60-acre, wheelchair-accessible campus in the Lower Galilee is the only camp of its kind in the Middle East. Open year-round, the Village can accommodate up to 64 campers during each session. The Village has what you might expect at a children’s camp: 12 camper cabins, a communal dining hall, theater, sports center, arts and crafts building, library, petting zoo and more.
The full list of the 14 “Breaking Barriers” grantee organizations in Israel is The Israel Museum, Beit Issie Shapiro, The Israel Association of Community Centers, Rimon Music School, Nalaga’at Theater, Jerusalem Conservatory, Jordan River Village, Milbat, Gesher Film Foundation, Vertigo Dance Company, ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran, the Central Library for the Blind, the Orna Porat Theater and Musethica.