UK mission to Israel expresses solidarity through song

The choral group has plans to travel across the country to entertain and show solidarity with those who have suffered from acts of terror, illness or disability.

rabbi jonathan sacks 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
rabbi jonathan sacks 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A musical solidarity mission from the UK will arrive in Israel on Wednesday with UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. The choral group has plans to travel across the country to entertain and show solidarity with those who have suffered from acts of terror, illness or disability. The Solidarity Through Song Mission is a joint initiative of the Shabbaton Choir, United Synagogue and the Office of the Chief Rabbi and is supported in part by the United Joint Israel Appeal (UJIA). During the five-day mission, participants will travel across Israel visiting a number of hospitals and care facilities including Reut, a center for the treatment of the elderly and injured and handicapped of all ages; Neveh Michael, a safe haven for children at risk; the Nahariya Government Hospital and Hadassah-University Hospital, Ein Kerem. Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said, "These missions have been among the most moving moments I have ever experienced. Bringing music into the lives of those who have suffered trauma and terror is part of the process of healing. Even more than the choir has lifted the spirits of the victims of terror, their courage has lifted and inspired us. It is a privilege to be present at these encounters of soul joined to soul through song." The group will also be giving three major concerts: a benefit for Reut in Ra'anana, a concert in Shlomi for local residents impacted by last year's attacks from Lebanon and one for residents of Kibbutz Lavi, Kibbutz Bet Rimon and Hodayot Children's Village. The group will spend Shabbat on Kibbutz Lavi in the company of the British Ambassador to Israel, Tom Phillips; Yehuda Avner, former Israel Ambassador to the UK and Daniel Taub, director of the Foreign Ministry's law division. United Synagogue President Simon Hochhauser said, "Song is an extremely powerful way of expressing our solidarity with Israel. As we visit hospitals and care centers, we are incredibly rewarded by the courage and strength of character of those who have suffered, whether it be through war, terror, illness or disability. It is so important for British Jewry to demonstrate its emotional support for Israel and I can think of no better way than through the medium of song." Douglas Krikler, chief executive of UJIA, said, "UJIA is pleased to be able to support the building of links between our community and the people of the north of Israel. We know what a big impact music can have on people in difficulty and it's a pleasure to be able to enable this to take place." The Shabbaton Choir is led by Stephen Levey and includes Reverend Lionel Rosenfeld and Hazan Jonny Turgel. Hazan Shimon Cramer, from Riverdale, New York, is also flying in to perform with the choir. "Solidarity through Song is a unique mission as we take our music to places that would not usually receive visits from a choir and hazans. We sing to people often less fortunate than ourselves and it always amazes me to see the effect our music has on people and the smiles that it brings to their faces. This is an incredible, yet humbling sight," Levey said. In previous years, the Shabbaton Choir has performed at Hadassah, Shaare Zedek and Rambam hospitals and has visited many children's homes and homes for the aged and handicapped. Choir member Peter Sheldon said, "We believe that the Solidarity through Song missions have probably had more impact on more Israelis than any other form of solidarity mission. Through our visits to various institutions and our concerts, we have had a direct and positive impact on many hundreds of Israelis who are suffering and brought the joy of song with a clear demonstration of British Jewry's support for Israel and its people. This year's mission promises to demonstrate that more than ever."