Avitall Gerstetter and former president Shimon Peres.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
On January 10, Avitall Gerstetter, Germany’s first female cantor, will perform a concert in Jerusalem for her Holocaust remembrance project, We Will Call Out Your Name.
The concert is titled “Songs from Berlin to Jerusalem.”
The project was inspired by a speech that Shimon Peres gave in Berlin in 2010.
“His story reminded me very much of my personal family story,” says Gerstetter.
Peres talked about his grandfather, who was a rabbi, and how the Nazis wrapped him in a tallit, locked him in the synagogue and burned him to death.
Gerstetter’s great-aunts were sent to Auschwitz. One of them, Rozsika Weisz, was killed the day she got there.
She was seven.
“That really affected me,” Gerstetter says, “and I did a Shoah project. The whole project We Will Call Out Your Name is dedicated to Rozsika.”
Rozsika’s sister Jolly Kestelman survived the Holocaust and now lives in Israel. She visited Berlin to be part of the We Will Call Out Your Name concert there. She joined Gerstetter on stage, and they sang “Hatikva” together.
“It was so emotional, the whole thing,” says Gerstetter.
“It really made me think that I needed to go to Israel and give a concert there.”
After completing high school, Gerstetter studied at a yeshiva in Jerusalem.
She continued with studies at the Berlin University of the Arts, with song as her major. She also took classes in piano, clarinet and dance, and she studied English at the Technical University in Berlin. In December 2001 she finished her cantorial studies in New York.
Gerstetter has given concerts in Germany, England, Italy and the US. She regularly acts as cantor for the synagogue in Oranienburger Straße and in the Hüttenweg synagogue in Berlin.
She released her first CD, Die Jüdische Stimme, in 2000 and her second, Avitall in Concert, in 2003.
Avitall Gerstetter will perform on January 10 at 7 p.m.
at the YMCA in Jerusalem. For more information and tickets, visit www.avitall.de