Professional storyteller Noa Baum, born in Jerusalem, Israel came to Blair on Thurs., April 14, to tell her true story of Israel and Palestine, "A Land Twice Promised," to some CAP and social studies classes.
According to Baum's introduction and card, her storytelling tries to help the cause of peace through, "a bridge of understanding and compassion between East and West, American and Israeli, Arab and Jew, past and present."
Baum came to Blair after CAP drama teacher Tammy Jeral saw Baum perform at the Washington Ethical Society in Washington D.C. and felt that viewing the performance would benefit her students. "I felt both the content and the one-woman motif would be wonderful for my students to see," Jeral said.
Baum's story, which took about two years to craft, is about the different experiences of Baum, her Palestinian friend Jumana and their mothers in Israel. The storytelling focuses especially around the 6-day War in 1967. Actually writing the story took many drafts that were sent to Jumana and her mother to check for factual accuracy.
Although Baum and Jumana were friends as they watched their children grow up together in Davis, California, it still took Baum almost seven years of friendship for her to she broach the topic of Jumana's life as a Palestinian.
Baum spent a year in the U.S. when she was in sixth grade, later got her Masters degree from New York University and then moved to Davis, California in 1990. Baum moved to Silver Spring in 2001 and has lived here since.
Through her storytelling, Baum related the views of both the Palestinians and the Israelis. For example, Baum talked about the Israeli soldiers as both peacekeepers and oppressors. By looking at the situation in multiple dimensions, as Baum tries to do, the entire story seems to spin itself out.
Although Baum tries to present both sides of the situation fairly, she has had many people, both Israeli and Palestinian, come up to her and criticize the bias in the show. Baum said that while she does not enjoy the criticism, she doesn't take it personally, "Anyone who is emotionally involved is going to feel that it is not balanced." Baum said that she cannot fully represent either side, but can only tell the stories of herself, her friend and their families.
Freshmen Gabby Acosta, who viewed the presentation, felt that Baum did a good job portraying both sides in the situation. "I thought she had a really good view of both sides. It sounded like she researched both of them and really listened to what her friend had to say," Acosta said.
Although Baum says the Israel-Palestine situation is difficult, she believes, and must believe that there will someday be peace. "Do I ever think there is going to be peace? Yes, I have to think that, or I can't live," Baum said wistfully.
For more information about Noa Baum and her storytelling, visit her web site.
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