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Hitting the right note: Solidarity concert uplifts Israeli soldiers

Perfomance by Akiva Turgeman and Ishay Ribo for displaced families and relatives of fallen IDF soliders a “welcome respite.”

Akiva (left) and Ishay Ribo perform in front of a full house at the AISH World Center. Credit: Courtesy.
Akiva (left) and Ishay Ribo perform in front of a full house at the AISH World Center. Credit: Courtesy.

On Thursday night, the sounds of soulful music rose from the Western Wall Plaza as Akiva Turgeman and Ishay Ribo performed for families of fallen Israel Defense Forces soldiers and families who have been displaced by the current war in Israel.

“I came directly from my base near Shlomi to be with my family at this concert,” said M., a reservist soldier whose family also lives in the north and was displaced by the conflict. “We are currently staying in Jerusalem, and this concert is a welcome respite from our time at the hotel where there isn’t that much to do.”

The concert was sponsored by members of the West Side Institutional Synagogue (WSIS) in partnership with AISH, which hosted the event and arranged the mission.

“This is no regular trip,” explained Rabbi Eitiel Goldwicht as he spoke to the WSIS mission participants prior to the arrival of the guests. “You are not here just to receive an understanding of what took place in Israel on Oct. 7 and since then, you are here to also give back to the people. From tonight until you leave, you will be meeting with families and going to locations so that you can be a part of what is going on in Israel, give of yourselves, make a change, and make an impact.”

Rabbi Eitiel Goldwicht addresses the WSIS mission members before the concert. Credit: Courtesy.

Special guests at the concert were the Ohana and Farchi families, who lost their sons, Eliyahu Ohana and Nadav Farchi, during the war in Gaza. Bari and Daniel Erber and their family, members of the WSIS, donated a Sefer Torah, a Torah scroll, in honor of the two fallen soldiers. Members of the Erber Family Gesher program, one of the flagship student programs at AISH, went to the army base where the Torah was dedicated and celebrated with the soldiers in memory of those who have fallen in the war.

Bari Erber said post-event that “we are so pleased with the outcome of the concert. Having the Kotel as the backdrop while in the beautiful AISH World Center celebrating with so many displaced families while Akiva and Ishay inspired us, was a memorable and inspiring evening, it hit all of the right notes and was the perfect way to start our mission.”

Akiva Turgeman (left) and Ishay Ribo provide a needed break for the audience at the AISH World Center. Credit: Courtesy.

“Both the concert tonight and the whole mission, are about realizing that we are all one family,” said Rabbi Steven Burg, CEO of AISH.

“Those of us who came from Manhattan, and invited Ishay and Akiva to raise the spirits of our brothers and sisters in Israel, did this because we are all one family,” he continued. “We are here standing together with the families from the south of Israel who went through the worst tragedies imaginable and families from the north who have left their homes. Many of these families have their husbands and fathers fighting in the war, and over 200 of them have perished. We came here to stand together and do something to help because we are all one large family.”

The WSIS mission on the rooftop of AISH World Center. Credit: Courtesy.

The joint WSIS and AISH mission continued on Friday with visits to the Be’eri, Kfar Aza and Re’im kibbutzim in southern Israel, where members of the mission began writing a Torah scroll that will be donated in the memory of fallen soldiers. During the trip, participants will visit and strengthen displaced families, injured soldiers, families of fallen soldiers, families of hostages and others.

Visit WSIS and AISH for more information on the mission.

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