27 August 2013
Echoing among the towering walls engraved with the names of over 5,000 Jewish communities destroyed or seriously damaged during the Holocaust, a lone clarinet blasts a drawn-out, solemn note symbolically representing the sound of the shofar. As light faded against the backdrop of the Valley of the Communities during the night of August 11, 2013, one light was still clearly visible in the compelling Jerusalem-stone wall memorial at Yad Vashem. For the people who gathered at the Mount of Remembrance that evening came to listen to the music and songs at the heart of the Jewish experience in Europe before the Holocaust and commemorate the many lives, which before being prematurely taken in unprecedented acts of injustice, were culturally engulfed in the Jewish musical genre that is Klezmer.
Despite the widespread devastation that was the Shoah, the evening entitled, “Mashiv Haruach: From Safed to Jerusalem – A Concert of Jewish Soul Music”, exemplified both the physical and cultural survival of the Jewish people through a celebration and revival of the familiar music which lay at the center of Jewish life in Europe for so many of the Jewish victims of the Shoah. The audience, consisting of many Holocaust survivors and their descendants, joyfully sang and clapped along with many of the memorable melodies masterfully played throughout the evening by "Clarinet and Klezmer in the Galilee" international masterclass students under the musical direction of Maestro Giora Feidman.
Detailing the excitement surrounding the evening, Yehiel Lock, one of the Klezmer musicians playing the clarinet at the concert, gave his account of the evening, “Even before the concert began I became touched when I boarded the bus with a group of Holocaust survivors from Rishon Letzion and overheard them speaking about how much they were looking forward to the concert and how excited they were to hear the music they grew up with…The concert really fulfilled its purpose by being able to connect to the hearts of these especially important people.”
As the rich and joyous music vigorously played into the night, the names of the communities chiseled on the Jerusalem-stone walls were illuminated in various schemes of colored light which seemed to absorb the familiar notes and grow brighter, reminiscent of the lively Jewish cultural life which flourished in Europe before the Holocaust. When asked if playing Klezmer music specifically at the Valley of Communities in Yad Vashem differed from playing at another locale Lock explained, “It is made somewhat more significant being surrounded by the names of communities and memorials which gives everything a little deeper meaning. Giora Feidman, improvising on his own at the very start of the concert as the names of people murdered in the Shoah were read out was incredible to watch. He was really able to set the mood of playing at a memorial and paying tribute to the lost Jewish communities. It was all very moving, I’ve never heard him play the clarinet before with such an extraordinary level of emotion.”
The concert took place with the support of the Israeli Ministry of Education and in cooperation with the Safed Klezmer Masterclass Association.