Jewish World Review March 7, 2003 / 3 Adar II, 5763

Can the power of prayer set to music help overcome senseless terror?

By Judith Bron | On Sunday, March 16th at 8PM, the "One Family Fund for Victims of Terror in Israel" -- which assists and helps heal the families of Israeli victims of jihad -- will bring some of the world's leading cantors to Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall for a benefit concert.

Cantorial music, the rich melodic masterpieces developed in synagogues to sing praise to the Almighty, or beseech His mercy, became cornerstones in a culture that has survived every kind of oppression and deliberate attempts to wipe it from the face of the earth.

The music, like the holy books its words are taken from, has been a unifying force behind the survival of Jewry throughout the ages. While Jewry has been repeatedly uprooted and witnessed entire communities decimated, the music of those long-lost peoples has survived --- often by oral transmission.

As an art form, cantorial music, or "chazanus," is considered to be on the decline. At the unprecedented cantorial concert, the audience will have the opportunity to hear the international influence and unique adaptation that each master brings to his craft.

Participating in the one-performance show, will be the "dean" of cantorial world, Moshe Stern of Jerusalem; Naftali Herstik of the Jerusalem Great Synagogue; Yitzchak Helfgot of the Great Synagogue of Tel Aviv; Abraham Weingarten of Lakewood, NJ and Benny Rogosnitzky of theJewish Center in Manhattan. The evening will also feature an all-male choral ensemble directed by the renowned Maestro Matthew Lazar, founder of the famous Zamir chorale foundation. Cantor Daniel Gildar will accompany him on the piano and Israeli virtuoso violin soloist Jonathan Gandelsman will offer a performance that is worthy of his title.


On August 9, 2001, Palestinian terrorists struck a crowded Jerusalem pizzeria in one of the most horrible tragedies the Jewish state has faced to date. While initially, the country -- and, indeed, the world -- was abuzz with sympathy for the victims and their surviving families, as time proceeded these shattered human lives became memories, footnotes in an ever-growing history of hate that plagues Israel.

At the time, a 12 year-old girl, Michal Belzberg, decided that she would forego her bat mitzvah gifts and celebration and instead establish a charity to fill the voids of financial and emotional need created by Arab terrorism. That charity, the "One Family Fund," assists teenagers undergoing hours of painful surgery to recover from wounds; adults left without limbs because of a homicide bomber; families left without a breadwinner because a terrorist felt he wanted to make an evil statement --- and they have brought relief to all of those in Israel who have had a difficult time dealing with the financial and emotional pressures that terrorism has created in the lives of thousands of human beings over the past two and a half years.

From the personal sacrifice of a young girl to today -- when it has collected money, paired up families affected by terrorism in Israel with supportive families in the United States and has been there to support the victims of terror both financially and emotionally -- this unique organization not only concentrates on the financial needs of the person but recognizes them as human beings with feelings, families and dreams.

Unlike government bureaucracies, the mandate of the "One Family Fund" is clear, all the help goes directly to the victims of terror who are treated as individuals, not case numbers. Their success to date is quickly making the "One Family Fund" the benchmark in charitable organizations.

This organization is quickly reinventing the wheel in defining what a comprehensive charity should be. The victims of terrorism don't simply need a bag of groceries, a wheelchair or a new coat. Rather, they need all of these things plus emotional support from individuals who genuinely care.

Thanks to "The One Family Fund," the victims of terror in Israel are getting their lives back together and looking forward to the day when they will be capable of living a successful and full life again.

Like in all situations affected by devastating injuries, no victim can make a full recovery alone. These victims, these individuals need all the things that the "One Family" fund is providing and is gaining recognition throughout the world of charitable organizations for.

To experience this historic concert or have a hand in bettering the lives of those who don't have the option of running from terrorism, please call 212.787.3016.

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Judith Bron is a Monsey, New York-based writer. Comment by clicking here.


© 2003