Last week, a group of JTS students, staff, and faculty spent a heart-opening and inspiring afternoon with Micah Hendler, founder and artistic director, and Amer Abu Arqub, executive director, of @jerusalemyouthchorus. The Jerusalem Youth Chorus brings together Israeli and Palestinian youth from East and West Jerusalem to engage in dialogue and music making. The chorus uses the power of music and storytelling to navigate living together among difference and conflict.
Amer and Micah came to JTS to share tools for healing in response to moments of heightened tension across many Jewish and American communities. Amer shared a story about being detained by Israeli police on the way to chorus practice, and how the chorus found resonance and beauty in his feelings of shame, anger, and hopelessness, ultimately creating a song that expressed their own stories as well as their hopes for a better future. Our JTS group spoke about moments during this conflict when they have struggled to share their true feelings. In the spirit of the chorus, the JTS group then used our dialogue to create an original and improvisational song, inspired in part by Cantorial School Interim Director Hazzan Raphael Frieder who had said “if there is no hope, there is no life.”
We are grateful to Rochelle Berman, LC ‘27 and Ilana Sandberg, RS ’24, for their help in bringing Amer and Micah to JTS, and the sponsorship of the Hendel Center for Ethics and Justice, the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue, and the Division of Religious Leadership.