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December 9th Shalom House – Washed Clean

On December 9th, the sky roared, and its gates were opened as rain poured onto the earth, flooding the roads and hydrating the plants. With a chill in the air, twenty survivors from Survivors of Nazism, based in Netanya, braved the cold front to come to the HHC Caesarea Villa and attend a Shalom House concert event, where they listened to good music and met new people. 

Opening the event, Bozena Gasiorowski, Director of the Shalom House Project, welcomed the survivors and guests from Germany and the USA and shared a few words before passing the microphone to Alyosha and Jody Ryabinov, the event’s lead performers. 

As the rain washed everything clean outside, it seemed fitting that the Ryabinovs speak about how they began their new lives in Israel. Coming from Ukraine, Alyosha flew to America, where he met his wife, Jody; then, twenty-six years later, with a heart for Israel, they finally took a leap of faith and headed to Israel, their daughter leading the way after she volunteered to serve in the IDF. 

With sincerity and love in their words, the Ryabinovs told the survivors what an honor it was to perform for them and be a part of the Shalom House Project. Taking his seat behind the piano, Alyosha began the concert with a song which he had written after visiting the Jordan River. As Alyosha played, the audience closed their eyes as if to feel the sensation of floating down the river, the current pulling them along. 

After performing a couple of his original compositions, Alyosha played Chopin’s Nocturne in C sharp minor. For four and a half minutes, the music connected to the survivors’ souls, and a hush filled the villa as the beautiful piece was played. 

A round of applause broke the spell Alyosha’s playing had cast, and a warm welcome was given as Alyosha and Jody introduced their friends Claudia and her mother, Christa, from Germany; Offra from Israel; and the Kenworthy family, Rodger and his wife Greer along with Rodger’s brother Howard and his wife Debbie, from the USA.

Claudia made the sun shine on a rainy day as she played the piano. Her mother watched with pride as her daughter let the music guide her. The Kenworthys, energized at the survivors’ desire to dance, joined the circle with big smiles on their faces as they held hands with survivors and swayed to the beat of the music.

Lunch was served buffet style with an array of colorful dishes, which had been prepared by our amazing volunteers. As everyone ate, conversations began, and connections were made. It was fascinating to learn about Rodger and Greer’s business called Abba Oil (abbaoil.com), which sells aromatic anointing oils, candles, bath & spa products, and other fragrances all over the world. With all the olive oil manufactured in Israel, only 10% of it is shipped out of the country; in that 10%, 4% of the olive oil is sent to Abba Oil in Houston, Texas!

After taking a group picture, the bus arrived to collect the survivors. As goodbyes were said, many shared their gratitude for the afternoon’s Shalom House event. Sharing our own words of thanks, HHC would like to personally thank Mila Fleitman and her group from Netanya for joining us; along with showing our appreciation to Alyosha and Jody Ryabinov for entertaining the survivors with their gift of music, and also bringing their friends to learn about the Shalom House Project and experience this special event.

If you are interested in hosting or sponsoring a Shalom House event, please email us at shalomhouse@hhcoalition.com for more information!

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