Thursday, May 13, 2010

Letter from Netanya: Jan Gaines on Jerusalem Day

Dear Friends,

Today, May 12, was Yom Yerushalaim, 43 years since the 6 Day War liberated and unified our capital. The day is gaining in significance every year, and so we here in Netanya celebrated it with an evening of music--outdoors, overlooking the sea and sky.

They say Jerusalem is two entities: the Heavenly Jerusalem and the Earthly Jerusalem. And tonight I felt that Israelis themselves are two entities as well. In our daily lives we deal with the mundane, the frustrations, and always the threats. But when Israelis come together to celebrate, we turn into heavenly beings, singing together, being together in joy and peoplehood.

So the evening started off with an hour of Chopin outdoors on our Tayelet or promenade, with the pianist giving the audience a history of Chopin's life and times as well as his Preludes and Nocturnes. We listened as the sun went down and the birds sang which reminded me of Caramoor with one difference. We had army helicopters flying on their nightly patrols!!! Since my apartment is only a block away from the concert, I'm used to these nightly forays and I heard only the Chopin.

After Chopin we had a break for a snack or schmoozing and then we went over to the amphitheater, also on the sea, for another concert. This one was with a youth orchestra, local kids, two youth choirs, and a fabulous singer whom you've probably never heard of, who gave us all the old songs about and for Jerusalem, "Ir Kodesh:. Israelis love to sing and especially with each other, so almost all our entertainers encourage group singing along with them. And so we did, for 2 hours, young and old, Sabtas, French, Anglos, Ethiopians, Russians, lots of kids with parents and grandparents.

Forgotten were all the daily troubles. We were now Israel Lemala. heavenly Israelis, celebrating heavenly Jerusalem. And we were one, as the worn out UJA slogan used to claim.

If I sound lyrical, that cannot begin to capture the emotions that washed over me as we ended the evening singing Jerusalem of Gold, 700 people in the audience, a couple of hundred kids on stage, the breeze blowing softly off the sea, pictures of the 6 day war's capture of the City flashing on screens, people standing for what has become our 2nd national anthem. And following this, Hatikva of course. Everyone standing. Everyone savoring those precious moments of understanding why we are here, and at least for me, how lucky I am to be a part of this country.

Shabbat Shalom and come and visit. Jan

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