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Shalom House – A Magnificent Concert by Italian Cellist and Israeli Pianist

The Shalom House Project is frequently blessed with virtuoso artists, but none compare to the incredible duo who performed on July 28th for thirty-six survivors of the Holocaust from Netanya, led by Rita Liberman. Filling Helping Hand Coalition’s headquarters with beautiful, harmonious music, Italian cellist Eliana Miraglia, and Israeli pianist Yochanan Nerel, poured “delight and joy” into the survivors’ hearts with an unforgettable concert.

Hosting the event, Bozena Gasiorowski (Director of the Shalom House Project) began by welcoming the afternoon’s guests and introducing the team and performers. 

Raised in Sicily, Eliana Miraglia came to Israel five years ago as a student of the first cello in the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. After winning a scholarship of excellence at Tel Aviv University, Eliana got her Bachelor of Music degree in 2021 and is currently studying Master of Music in Jerusalem at the Academy of Music and Dance. 

Over a year ago, she met Yochanan Nerel, a dedicated pianist who has been playing since the age of eight. With a Master’s degree from the Academy of Music and Dance, next year Yochanan will become a lecturer in the department of music education.

Feeling chemistry when they played together, Eliana and Yochanan became a duet and have performed all over the country. 

Expressing her excitement about being at the Shalom House, Eliana said, “I’ve had the survivors in my heart since I was very young. In Italy, I have been part of Bnei Efraim, that, besides the love for Jewish people and the Land of Israel, engages with many events for Holocaust survivors. We are very excited to perform and bring music and magic into this place today.”

Transporting the audience into a music hall, Eliana and Yochanan “sang with their hands” as they played each piece. One of the survivors, Vladimir Levin, perfectly described the procession of the concert, explaining, “First, the musicians performed the music of [Italian composer] Ennio Morricone, who wrote a lot for Italian and American cinema. Gradually, they led us to classical music. And, Beethoven’s [Sonata for cello and piano No.1 in F major], the most complicated thing, was accepted simply with a bang! At the end of the concert, the musicians returned us to the Holy Land, performing [Klezmer suite], a medley of Israeli music and songs.” 

Giving an extended round of applause at the concert’s end, the survivors cheered and asked for more. Also not wanting to stop playing, Eliana announced that they would perform one last piece. Karl Davidoff’s “Am Springbrunnen” (At the Fountain) is thought to be one of the most complex cello pieces to perform; despite its difficulty, Eliana gave an impressive grand finale, using her entire body to deliver a performance of power and precision! 

With a final bow, the musicians thanked the survivors for spending time with them. Sharing her group’s gratitude, Rita Liberman told the musicians how they all had goosebumps on their arms. Wanting to include their own words of appreciation and awe, the survivors sent Bozena their thoughts: 

“It is a great happiness when talented and young musicians can perform in front of such an understanding and kind audience who can appreciate this art of beautiful music.” (Alex and Maya Leznov)

“We are infinitely grateful and happy to meet such wonderful and talented people! It was an unforgettable day! You gave us the joy of creativity and communication. We felt your love and warmth. It was so touching that tears of gratitude and tenderness involuntarily came out.” (Elvira Krasnova)

Before lunch was served, Helping Hand Coalition and Rita Liberman’s group surprised Eliana with a stunning heart-shaped cake to celebrate her birthday. Eliana grinned from ear to ear as the room sang and exclaimed, “This is one of my happiest birthdays ever!” 

Two survivors also gifted their work — a book about art and two beautiful homemade sculptures — to Helping Hand Global Forum, which Bozena accepted on behalf of the organization. 

As the survivors returned to their homes, their faces were bright with renewed energy, and their smiles were as broad as the Cheshire Cat. The following morning, another survivor, Leonid, wrote, “I am still under the impression of yesterday’s reception! The virtuoso performance of the musicians was especially impressive because they felt what they were doing!” 

A few days later, still glowing from the performance, Yochanan shared his thoughts on the event, “Performing for the survivors was a unique and tremendous experience for me. When we started playing, there was silence in the room. I could feel the appreciation for the music — each one influenced by the emotions and memories the music brought to them. When we finished, they all came to say thank you and to describe their gratitude for this event. I thought they were very honest and spoke from their hearts. It made me very happy.”

Helping Hand Coalition extends its gratitude to Eliana Miraglia and Yochanan Nerel for sharing their musical talents with the survivors of the Holocaust. We’d also like to thank Rita Liberman and her group for accepting our invitation, Sofia for translating the event, and Orly for catering the delicious food. Lastly, thanks to our other guests who participated in the event: Alicja, Offra, and Tal. Each of you brought a unique quality to this afternoon, making it one of the highlights of the year!

Click here to view the pictures of the event

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