“Ithaca” is the name of a poem written by the early 20th century Greek poet Konstantinos Kavafis. It relates to Odysseus and his protracted mythological journey home at the end of the Trojan War, and counsels him—unlike the usual advice—not to rush to achieve his goal, but to enjoy the way, go off on side tracks, and never to cease learning.
In many ways, that is what we do at IcExcellence. We define our vision and goals as milestones to be strived towards, but always remain aware that the journey itself, with all its surprises, shifts and opportunities, is no less important.
Since the foundation’s establishment in 2001, it has grown, changed and developed – far beyond my rosiest expectations. The initial goal I had set at the end of my tenure as Israel’s cultural attaché in Washington DC, to “nurture excellent cultural ambassadors for Israel in the world,” in time turned out to be only part of a much broader vision: that of encouraging and increasing Israeli excellence in general, and in its cultural expressions in particular.
The foundation today unites select people of vision and action, artists, advisors, supporters and friends, all of whom are committed to fostering and expanding the values of excellence in society. Together, over the years, we have created and developed a unique model, as well as an exceptional body of knowledge and expertise in this realm.
I believe that significant progress always results from exercising freedom of choice, seeking out opportunities, and having the courage to effect a change. The foundation’s model offers a combination of developing awareness and taking practical steps. It provides a clear framework for action, while constantly encouraging breakthroughs.
Excellence in our foundation is not defined as competitiveness, perfection or the pursuit of success; it is a value encompassing proper living—including responsibility, integrity and generosity. Art at its finest touches on existential questions and stirs the hearts of many, whilst transcending differences of language and mentality. The potential in the intersection between cultural quality and values of excellence is truly enormous and unlimited!
We opened the year 2009 with an “Excellence Event” that included outstanding performances by IcExcellence artists. It ended with an exciting surprise – a musical rendition of a poem from 1894 I especially love, “I Believe,” by Shaul Tchernichovsky. The audience sang along, making it clear to us all that many people share the journey, the desire to create a society of value and meaning, and a true belief in man and his bold spirit.
"I Believe" being performed at the Excellence Event by Rona Kenan, Din Din Aviv, Chen Reiss, Gil Shohat and Avishai Cohen
| Rachel Marani Founder & Managing Director