On June 17th, 2019, a Shalom House concert event took place at the HHC villa in Caesarea. Hosted by Alyosha and Jody Ryabinov, the afternoon brought two groups of people together to make memories that will be treasured forever. Also joining the event were friends of the Ryabinov’s and Alexander Dietze with his family.
Whoever comes to the Shalom House events, lives are impacted, whether that be Holocaust survivors or guests. It’s incredible to see the different talents that come through the villa’s doors to grace people who missed out on a normal childhood.
From Netanya, a group of twenty survivors who were ghetto survivors and evacuees proved that there can still be happiness and love after a traumatic experience. Those present were full of life and up for whatever our performers had to bring. From dancing to well-known songs to opening their hearts to strangers, today’s group was wonderful!
Opening the concert, friends of Alyosha and Jody from Germany sang a mixture of songs in Yiddish and Hebrew. The family comprised of Tobias, the father, who led on the piano; his wife, Monika, who led vocals; and their daughters, Tikva, Noemi, and Shoshana who played the violin, clarinet, and danced. They were a beautiful family inside and out, and their loving hearts shone as they performed for the survivors.
All rose when the Hatikvah was sung. Cecilia Dietze, Alexander’s wife, brought out her colorful flags during the national anthem, emphasizing the emotions that flood through the words and melodies of the song. United as one, for three minutes we all stood with Israel and proclaimed our heritage. Hitler tried to destroy the Jews, but today the survivors and our guests took a stance and sang as if to say, “You didn’t win, we’re still here and stronger than ever!”
Eyes closed as Claudia performed a song on the piano that flowed from her heart. Allowing the music to take her away, she presented a song that mesmerized the crowd.
Alexander also contributed by singing a song about grace, explaining how God’s grace is relentless, especially to the German people. His song was soothing yet raw. As Alexander sang, he looked into the eyes of the survivors, one at a time, pouring his heart out and showing them the love they deserve.
When Alyosha got behind the piano, he tickled those ivories until they gleamed! Once he starts playing, there’s no telling where the music is going to lead him. With each key, the room filled with a flutter of different emotions, creating a new atmosphere in the Shalom Villa than what was present five minutes before. Everyone sat in awe as he played. The song began dramatic and intense but ended in a sweet lullaby; it felt as if he was fighting a battle and then ending in a serene lake surrounded by nature floating in its waters.
Thinking that the afternoon couldn’t get much better, the party really started when Eve and Jody stood front and center to lead the group in song. People clapped, sung, danced, and laughed to the famous beats. There wasn’t a smile missing from anyone’s faces when the group congregated in a dance that even the small children got involved with.
A precious moment was seeing one of the survivors pick up Alexander’s two-year-old daughter and spin her around in his arms. The moment was captured in time and will remain alive through the pictures and videos. Like the proverb goes, “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged…” Even though this man was not the little girl’s grandfather, you could see his love and acceptance of her as his new adopted granddaughter as they danced and laughed together.
Lunch was spread in a gorgeous display by our ever-amazing volunteers, Jola and Lilia, who exuberated themselves with the various foods and desserts. There were no complaints, only thankful stomachs in the room!
Before the afternoon came to a close, Cecilia’s sister, Lidia, presented the survivors with chocolate from Finland and homemade cards to show her appreciation, love, and sympathy. Of German descent, she too apologized for the treatment her people had inflicted and the childhoods they lost.
Asking if anyone would like to share, most present exclaimed that the events were too painful to talk about, but they instead said a big thank you to Helping Hand Coalition, Jody and Alyosha, and everyone else who had made the day so special for them.
The afternoon felt like a family reunion, that came and went too quickly. As Geoffrey Chaucer first said, though in Old English, “All good things must come to an end.” With one last picture and a small rendition of Shalom Aleichem, the survivors got on their bus to journey home.
A huge thank you to everyone involved: Jody & Alyosha Ryabinov, their German friends, Eve, Claudia, Alexander and Cecilia Dietze with their family, the leaders of the Holocaust survivors group in Netanya, and Jola and Lilia!