Gala Emunah Je-m Concert: Zionism, Faith, Joy in Helping Others
The phrase "and Your Faithfulness at Night", (Psalms 92) is interpreted by many commentators as a reference to the Almighty's presence throughout the dark periods of Jewish history.
Perhaps that explains why the audience that packed the Jerusalem Theater's Henry Crown auditorium this week for Emunah Jerusalem's 6th annual gala concert sang and clapped at the top of their lungs as this rousing Modzhitz hassidic niggun ended the program.
After all, Operation Pillar of Defense had just ended in a ceasefire and families were still waiting for their soldiers to return home while worrying about the permanence of the unfamiliar quiet that had taken the place of sirens and missiles.
The concert ends – except for everyone rising for Hatikva, of course – with that song every year, but this time it was clear that the crowd, where so many participants know one another, had the recent IDF operation in mind.
Perhaps they thought of the light the proceeds would bring to families of special needs adults (see below).
On the other hand, the group participation was also inspired by the enthusiasm of the three phenomenal singers who starred at the event, along with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra conducted by Dr. Mordechai Sobol of Jewish music fame – with one medley conducted by his son Ophir – and by the Yuval Cantors' choir, the Ramatayim men's choir and as a surprise, young soldier-violinist-virtuoso Gavriel Chouraki, who, with his rendition of the theme from Schindler's List, left no one dry-eyed.
It must have been mostly the timing, though, because tenor Cantor Simon Cohen's operatic rendition of "Bring him home", Hassidic singer Ohad Moshkovitz 's soulful "Haneshama Lach" (The soul is Yours, have mercy on Your creation from the Selichot prayers) to Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach's tune and IDF Chief Cantor Shai Avramson's devotion in stirring portions of the traditional service also moved the audience to tears.
Having everyone join in singing Rabbi Nachman of Breslav's "the world is a narrow bridge – but most importantly, do not fear" seemed most appropriate.
But it was when the three professional singers sang together that their powerhouse voices brought down the house, especially in the orchestrated Seven Wedding Blessings, the Priestly Blessing and the famous rhythmic cantorial Ribbono Shel Olam ,where the three seemed to simply bounce the verses back and forth between themselves and the choir.
Interspersed with vocals, the program included the Jerusalem orchestra's spirited rendering of a Shabbat Zemirot medley and a medley of songs about Jerusalem, written by the indefatigable Sobol.
Renee Becker, joint head of the Jerusalem Emunah chapter, who received well deserved kudos for succeeding in putting it all together, made sure to share them with the volunteers who helped organize the evening, Racheli Brooks who runs the chapter – and especially thanked the sponsors who made it possible.
Also present were Israel Emunah Chairperson Liora Minka, Hon. World Emunah President Naomi Liebler, World Emunah chairperson Dina Hahn and everyone in Jerusalem who could manage to get a ticket for the sold-out event.
And most important of all, in Emunah tradition, the monies raised will go towards Emunah Jerusalem's new and most worthy project in Gush Etzion's Gvaot community: a residential environment for young adults with special needs where they will be given the tools to contribute to society and live independent lives.
Emunah - National Religious Women's Organization, founded in 1935, has been awarded the Israel Prize and President's Volunteering Prize, for serving the Israelis from infancy to old age all over the country in social welfare, education and volunteerism, family and culture, National Service, advancement of women and more.