The Israeli magician Israel Cagliostro set a Guinness World Record for the largest magic lesson by teaching a group of 1,576 fifth and sixth graders from Haifa a card trick on Monday.
Cagliostro was aiming to break an existing record set by Scottish magician Kevin McMahon in 2012. But record breaking aside, he aimed to promote peace and coexistence in Israel. The massive lesson, dubbed “Haifa Magic for Peace,” brought together Jewish, Christian and Muslim students from across Haifa for a day of fun and cross-cultural interaction. It was organized by the Haifa Municipality and Beit HaGefen, a Jewish-Arab cultural center.
Of course, everyone knows that peace cannot be achieved by a mere wave of a wand. However, the magician told The Times of Israel he was happy to be doing something that might at least make a small change in the lives of some of Israel’s young people.
“It was really interesting, and the fact that it was magic for peace made it all the more special. I believe that peace is in our hands and working together as one I really felt that it was within reach,” said Shira, 10, from the Hofit school in Haifa.
Although Shira spoke figuratively, peace was literally in the children’s hands, as they each held a special deck of eight cards. Each card had printed on it a word representing a concept with which a peace process could begin: honor, togetherness, dialogue, listening, hope, tolerance, consideration, and brotherhood.
The trick that Cagliostro taught the massive group involved each “magician” having someone else choose from the deck the card they thought had the most important word for moving toward peace. The person put the card back in the deck without the magician looking at it. Then the magician put a small wooden wand inside the holes that were punched out at the top of the cards. After a special spell was cast, the card that the person had chosen mysteriously rose up out of the deck.
“Teaching a trick like this is really complicated with so many people,” said Cagliostro.
“It’s not every day that you get to break a Guinness World Record. It was a really hard thing to do, to get so many people together from so many schools to work as one and break the record,” agreed 11-year-old Hadar.
Cagliostro wasn’t just breaking the world record, he was actually reclaiming it. According to the magician, he set the record for the largest magic lesson in August 2012 with 644 students. Just two months later, Kevin McMahon broke it with 1,063 students.
“The record is important to me,” said Cagliostro. “I’m an Israeli and I’m a fighter. I was going to get it back.”