Jerusalem Journal # 178
Symbiosis– “interaction between two organisms living in close proximity to each other, giving mutual benefit to both.” In this Land of the Bible, shepherd and farmer experience this inter- dependent relationship. As farmers harvest the crops, leaving husks and plant material on the ground for the shepherds, their flocks graze and fertilize the fields.
Symbiotic relationships are a portrait of what a vibrant community and world should look like. A version of that story has begun to play out between Hollywood and Israel via our project, The Writers’ Gathering, through which Gary and I work to expose established screen/TV writers, playwrights, and novelists to this ancient land. Our goal–to feed that well from which they write and to inspire them to mine stories from the bedrock and fertile soil of today’s Israel, which will symbiotically put into action what God told Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you.”
Along with another screenwriter and a New York playwright, Hollywood Writer/Producer, Rob Loos, joined us in Israel for our first Writers’ Gathering (‘07). His imagination sparked by the masses of migrating birds crossing this land bridge between Eurasia and Africa, Rob photo- journaled his trip, and in October launched an international animated television series for children called IESODO, meaning “The Way of Jesus” in Japanese. Using the backdrop of the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan Valley, a special flock of animated birds whose lives have been changed, retell well-known Bible stories and seek to change the world.
Rob recently wrote us asking if there was a “bird-related product” made here in Israel which could serve as a marketing tool for the series. Gary’s search led to Nazareth Village, an educational gem located in the heart of Nazareth, where the recreated first-century working village gives visitors a cultural sense of what life was like during the time of Jesus.
Perched on top of a display shelf in the gift shop at Nazareth Village, a wooden eagle in flight caught Gary’s attention. Part of a collection of creative 3-D laser-cut wooden puzzle models, the eagle shared display space with Noah’s Ark, lions, and Nativity creches. A flurry of emails to Rob in Hollywood, then a phone call to the Jerusalem-based industrial designers at TouchWoodDesign set an appointment for us, and thus began a beautiful journey!
Just as the Land of the Bible offers layer upon layer of discoveries, we had embarked on an adventure of discovering new friendships which also revealed a series of symbiotic success stories with multiple layers of a spirit of giving back.
Soon we arrived at TouchWoodDesign’s Jerusalem studio where the young founders, Assaf Goldstein and Ofir Baruochi, introduced us to their world of woodcutting. Having garnered Israel’s prestigious Dan David Prize for young entrepreneurs in 2012, Assaf and Ofir received a large no-interest loan to expand their fledgling business based on their innovative business model and vision for making a difference in the community. It was the incentive they needed.
Another layer of the story lies with the founder of the Dan David Prize who had a dream in 1961 and through the generous no-interest loan of an international benefactor, not only built his dream business, but invested his massive fortune into rewards for those who are making a lasting impact on society and have become business leaders committed to creating a better world.
It has been said, “If you want to change the world, start in your own back yard.” Assaf and Ofir didn’t exactly look in their backyard, but they did look across the hall from their studio where an on-the-job training workshop for at-risk and special needs teens is changing kids whose troubled lives were like a puzzle with pieces damaged or missing, failing in school, drifting. Susan’s House was founded by a wealthy Israeli diamond merchant who had been an at-risk teen growing up and when his young wife Susan died of cancer, he wanted to honor her memory.
TouchWoodDesign needed laborers, Susan’s House kids needed to learn skills and earn income. Teens now work in shifts to laser-cut and package a growing catalogue of TWD gifts. As they create puzzles for others, they are learning to put the pieces of their own life puzzle together in a way that prepares them for the working world. From gross sales TouchWoodDesign donates ten percent to Susan’s House. It is a marriage made in heaven!
To view the TouchWoodDesign catalogue go to:
Touch Wood Design
To learn more about Nazareth Village go to:
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