"For most children," begins Strangers No More, "going to school is as simple as going around the block." But for the students in the Bialik-Rogozin School in Tel Aviv, the journey has been long and continues to be difficult. Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon’s documentary, winner of last year's Academy Award for Best Documentary Short, premieres 5 December on HBO, tracks the experiences of several students, as examples of the many (from 48 countries) who have survived loss and trauma. Many are orphans, others have parents who are refugees, all are doing their best to remember their pasts and also to move on. According to principal Karen Tal, means to "open our arms to every student. Almost every student is running away from something." Their relatives have been running too: Johannes' father, from Sudan, confesses that his son was never able to go to school before; the boy's new teacher observes, "You see the eyes of the father, you see that he is really tired from running from one place to another."
Bialik-Rogozin provides a haven for families. Here parents find legal help in securing visas or other documents, and students learn history and math and Hebrew, so they might have a shared language and so come to understand one another's experiences and help one another to build new ones. They tell remarkable stories, as they witnessed parents' murders ("When she died, I felt a little bit alone, because your mom is like your friend" says Esther, "If you write about it, it does make you feel better") or endured attacks themselves. Mohammed recalls men invading the family home "with a big knife," then shooting his grandparents in their heads." As he's about to graduate, Mohammed describes his goal, to "make a school in my village."