This morning on the first day of Chol HaMoed, I had the privilege of attending a musical hallel in Bet Knesset Shirat Shlomo of Efrat. The baal tefilla was the popular music man Shlomo Katz. Shirat Shlomo (named in memory of Rav Shlomo Carlebach, ztz'l), under the leadership of Rav Zvi Leshem, is a very welcoming place, and therefore residents from all over Efrat come to participate in this special Hallel. In other words, the shul was packed, S-R-O.
Shlomo Katz and Ben Katz (no, not brothers, but friends) sported two of several guitars in the room. Maayan Leshem beat the darbuka. Other folks (women too) had musical instruments like drums, percussion, tambourines.
The Hallel was spirited, exciting and inspirational. I videoed 35 minutes of it, but cut it down to 2.5 minutes so that YOU can take a peak at the joyous prayers.
You can find the clip in the Gush Etzion/Efrat TV videos at http://voices-magazine.com/voices-videos.php?id=44 .
After a delicious family breakfast, my clan drove over to Shdema (an abandoned IDF base, in danger of being turned over to the Palestinian Authority). A Jewish presence is vital there!
The Committee for a Jewish Shdema organized the must terrific day - something for everyone, really. Hundreds of people turned out to participate. We heard: Colonel (res.) Moshe Peled talk about the plans for Gush Katif towns, Rav Dov Lior encourage those who are struggling to save Shdema, and Rav Yosef Mendelovitch speak about his arrest in Russia before he was allowed to emigrate to Israel.
There were donkey rides for the kids, inflatable castles and entertainment.
A photo exhibition lined the walls of the main building. The photos, taken by talented photographers Rivkah Ryback, Gemma Blech and "Abigail" documented the past year in Shdema - the speakers and supporters, the events and activities.
And then there was music. I missed Moussa Berlin, but I had the opportunity to hear Avi Schmell and Benzi Thee of the Me'Shir Zion band. Folks started dancing and they sure kicked up some dust.
Congratulations to Nadia Matar and Yehudit Katzover of the Committee for a Jewish Shdema, as well as all those on the committee who worked so hard for today's success. Yashar kochechechem.
I'm hoping to have a Shdema video up very soon too. You can check http://www.voices-magazine.com/ 's VOICES TV for the Shdema video and the latest clips from Voices.