Today, November 11th, a concert styled Shalom House was hosted at the Caesarea Villa. Fifteen survivors from a hostel in Hadera, led by Tova, were welcomed with opened arms, though it took time for the group to reciprocate the hosts’ warmth.
Greeting the survivors, Bozena Gasiorowski shared about the Shalom House project before opening the floor to the event’s performers. Dagi, a talented dancer, wore her heart on her sleeve as she performed; her happiness was contagious, and her movements were precise and full of emotion. At the end of her last flag dance, she explained that God wants to bring beauty from ashes and, therefore, she chose to dance with flower-patterned flags to symbolize life in bloom.
Tears were shed as Alexander Dietze sung a song about mercy and forgiveness. As a German with Nazi ancestors, Alexander asked the survivors for forgiveness and also thanked them for allowing him to share and feel welcomed in the Land of Israel.
Each week, Alyosha casts a spell on everyone in the villa with his music. Eyes closed as Alyosha played an emotional narrative of his life in Israel, from sweet beginnings to pain, and from challenges to thanksgiving, each transition was powerful and honest. Alyosha also performed a composition called The Wedding, which was beyond beautiful. As the tune sped up, he chased the song as if in a race with the very music his fingers were creating!
Tamar, a friend of Alyosha who is studying about the Holocaust at Haifa University, got out her guitar to sing to the survivors. Before playing, Tamar apologized to the survivors for how Britain treated the Jews during WWII and the war of 1948. This was a touching moment because the survivors began lowering their guards after seeing the hosts’ genuine love and repentance. With a new openness, the survivors enjoyed dancing with Dagi, Bozena, and Jola to songs they knew and loved.
Lunch was savored by all, and the food, creatively prepared by HHC’s volunteers, was eaten in enjoyment as conversations began, and acquaintances were made. One survivor, Malka, shared about her love for Jerusalem and that Israel was their forever home, while a guest spoke about how blessed he felt to have been part of the afternoon and experience the incredible power of music and dance.
Loretta Meredin shared, “It was another blessed event at the Shalom House. There was a wonderful gathering of guests from Hadera who were quite reserved to begin with, but as the entertainment progressed, they soon began to relax and let the ambiance of the dancing with the flags engulf the room. Not forgetting the wonderfully gifted and talented pianist, Alyosha, and all those who contributed to the entertainment – it was all so terrific. And so, after a tasty and delightful lunch, we all said our emotional goodbyes.”
Deepest appreciation goes out to all who participated in the event. To Alyosha, Dagi, and Alexander, HHC is thankful that you come and share your talents with groups of survivors, and continue to bring others to experience these memorable events. Also, thanks to the Hadera group, who let their walls down and opened their hearts to the group.