An exuberant audience gave two standing ovations at Beverly Hills Synagogue (YIBH) at their second annual Israel Solidarity concert held Wednesday April 13th. This year, the concert was sold out and the banquet area had to be opened to accommodate more people wanting a ticket.
Philip Kaufler, synagogue president, aptly described the evening that combined the talent of the IDF Rabbinate Choir and twelve musicians from the United States Army Band, and two amazing Cantors, as “exciting, exhilarating and emotional.”
The idea to unite two great allies in a musical extravaganza was conceived of by his wife Janice Kaufler. She spoke to Rabbi Kalinsky who in turn approached Rabbi David Becker who overcame many hurdles to bring this alliance together for a historic event.
Becker expressed great pride in the U.S. army performers based at La Alameda who he said could have been occupied with many endeavors, but instead chose to inspire, and join together with the IDF for this special evening of unity. Also attending and showing their support for the event were chaplains from throughout the country of all denominations.
Singing solo, duets, and combining with the IDF and U.S. Army performers were IDF Chief Cantor Lieutenant Colonel Shai Abramson and beloved Beverly Hills Synagogue Cantor Netanel Baram.
According to Israeli news service Arutz Sheva, Abramson’s angelic voice was discovered by IDF chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi who heard him singing a prayer. Major General Stern then approached him to audition and the rest, as they say, is history. Abramson remembers hearing beautiful chazzanut and zemirot at home. His father was the cantor at Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue and for years managed the Israeli Chamber orchestra.
Baram explained his friendship with Abramson began eight years ago when they both had the z’hut to perform at the re-dedication of the Hurva Synagogue in Yerushalayim. Both cantors have extraordinary vocal talent that resulted in an uplifting and soul stirring evening of song.
Nati Baram sang an exquisite rendition of Haneshama Lach arranged by conductor Dr. Mordechai Sobol combining his own music with the music of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. Baram also delighted the crowd singing the theme from “Exodus.”
ID Chief Cantor Abramson sang “Bring Him Home,” from “Les Miserable” with new meaning of how families in Israel pray and wait for the safe return of their loved ones.
Abramson joined together with IDF choir members Netanel Ben Gihat, Noam Maimon, Itzik Dalia, Ariel Kadosh, Roi Shema, Yehonathan Finish, Nitai Cohen and Yossi Mark, to sing a moving arrangement by conductor Sobel of “Eretz Tzvi” and prayer for the IDF. The song “Eretz Tzvi” (land of the deer,) was composed for the film “Operation Thunderbolt” about the IDF rescue at Entebbe led by Yoni Netanyahu.
Other selections from the concert included an incredible duet by Abramson and Baram of Hineni Kan, the IDF Rabbinate choir singing Matanot K’tanot about the beautiful small gifts we should appreciate such as families together waiting for Shabbat, and Shabechi Yerushalayim.
Another highlight was the introduction by Kaufler of special guest American attorney Elan Carr. Among Elan Carr’s heroic achievements was leading an anti terrorism team in Iran and conducting Chanukah and Shabbat services in the presidential palace of Saddam Hussein.
To culminate a truly memorable event, all of the performers came onstage for “Avinu Shebashamayim” and a “Peace in Jerusalem Medley” with the audience singing and clapping along.
The reason for the concert was summed up by the Rabbi of the Beverly Hills Synagogue Pini Dunner, “There’s nothing more important in the current atmosphere of negative attitudes towards Israel than to show our solidarity with both the state of Israel, with every Jew in Israel, and who supports Israel.”