As Israel‘s hot summer begins, on July 8th HHC hosted a small group of thirteen survivors from Survivors of Nazism, located in Hadera. Bozena Gasiorowski welcomed everyone to the villa and shared her excitement for the day’s musical talents to perform.
The concert began like the beginning of a romance movie. The song was one that spoke of everlasting love without uttering a single word; the melodies flowing through the room and mesmerized the audience. While Alyosha Ryabinov and David Forman played their instruments, Dagi gracefully danced to the beat, bringing all the emotions to life.
As Alyosha performed his songs, each verse brought on a different emotion: pain, suffering, longing, freedom, love, hope, and joy. The music spoke into people’s hearts, every ear was tuned to hear what the next note would be.
Claudia also performed a piece that came from her heart. As she played the piano and David the violin, audience members closed their eyes in order to feel the music that was being created as the duet was performed.
Jody, Alyosha’s wife, joined the group to sing songs inspired by passages from the Torah. After singing a song about God’s promise to Abraham, Jody shared how that specific passage runs through her mind every day she lives in Israel, making her feel thankful for the blessings God has bestowed upon His people. “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3)
As always, the concert ended with famous Hebrew songs that got everyone on their feet dancing. Survivors danced, clapped, and moved their feet to the beat. Watching this scene take place will make anyone’s heart swell with happiness.
Before lunch was served, Murray Meredin stood to share a short story about his life during the war. Born in London, England, Murray was just nine years old when the war started. Though he did not experience the ghettos or concentration camps, he still witnessed some of the horrors of war while living in his hometown. He shared that while playing on the playground one afternoon, a Luftwaffe gunned the area he was in. Looking down, Murray described how he saw the bullet marks on the floor beside him. Many soldiers were on leave that day, and thankfully there was one standing beside Murray who was carrying a gun. The event took place in less than a minute and resulted in the soldier aiming at the plane and shooting the pilot of the German plane. In 2015, Murray and his wife, Loretta, immigrated to Israel to be in the Land of Promise and live close to family.
Inspired by Murray’s story, one of the survivors asked if he could also share a few words. He explained that everyone who was sitting in the room had gone through the Holocaust in some form, whether in the ghettos or hiding from the Germans. He stated that each had lost someone they loved, yet they were there and thankful to be alive.
However, the reason this survivor stood to share was not to talk about those he lost or the events he experienced during the war, instead he wanted to remind everyone that July 8th marked the anniversary of the Palestinian-Israeli war that took the lives of many individuals. Asking permission, he sang a song in Russian as a memorial for the lives of the IDF soldiers who had sacrificed their lives for the protection of their country. It was a notable moment.
Lunch was as delicious as ever! HHC’s volunteers, Lilia and Jola, outdid themselves once again. Lucas Jasinski also contributed by presenting a scrumptious cake baked by his wife, Limor.
Ending the Shalom House on a high note, Alyosha and Jody performed a jazz song that Alyosha had written while he was studying in university. The tune got everyone’s feet moving and hands clapping. David also joined in with the song by performing a solo that made our guests want to get up and jive.
Thank you to everyone who made this Shalom House so memorable. To the Survivors of Nazism and their leader, Zenia, we appreciate your presence and loved having you! Thank you to today’s musical guests — Alyosha & Jody Ryabinov, David Forman, Claudia, and Dagi — your music and gifts bring joy into people’s lives and cause us to smile every time you join Helping Hand Coalition in these special events.
None of these events would be possible without support; if you’re interested in hosting your own Shalom House, please don’t hesitate to email ShalomHouse@HHCoalition.com to schedule a date!