Shufuni wlll play a free concert on May 21 at Shirat Hayam in Swampscott.

North Shore JCC to hold musical tribute to Israel’s independence on May 21

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North Shore JCC to hold musical tribute to Israel’s independence on May 21

Shufuni wlll play a free concert on May 21 at Shirat Hayam in Swampscott.

In celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut – Israeli Independence Day – the Jewish Community Center of the North Shore in Marblehead is inviting an Israeli music group to perform and share its stories.

“After Oct. 7, instead of just telling the story again and again on Zoom and hearing from survivors – which is also super important – I tried to bring a different angle, and tried to bring music to the JCC,” said Uria Roth, project director in the Israel office of the Jewish Community Centers of North America.

He’d heard of a musical collective called Shufuni – loosely translated as “Look at me!” – that had been making music in Sderot near Gaza for several years, and he knew that many who were involved would have been directly touched by the events of Oct. 7. Roth reached out, connections were made, and four Israeli musicians – Linor Ein Gedy of Kibbutz Mefalsim; Daniel Weiss of Kibbutz Be’eri; and Mira Semandoyev and Rotem Meir Levi, both of Sderot – agreed to travel to the United States and perform together.

Now, in their second U.S. visit since the war began, Shufuni is coming to the North Shore to perform in its final show of the trip. While Israel Independence Day fell from sundown on May 13 to sundown on May 14, the free concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. May 21 at Congregation Shirat Hayam in Swampscott.

Back in January, the group performed in the Washington, D.C., area and in Colorado at the JCC executive leadership conference, Mifgash. “Ever since then, every few days I get an email from another JCC asking ‘when are they coming back to the U.S., we want to bring them to our JCC,’” said Roth. “There’s a lot of demand.”

The JCC of the North Shore made the cut for the group’s upcoming tour, which will begin in California, journey to New Jersey, and finish in Massachusetts. The free, communitywide concert is a product of a funding initiative called “Mit-habrim” or “Connections,” a partnership between the Israeli government’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs and Combating Antisemitism and the JCC Association of North America. An additional 14 other U.S. and North Shore Jewish organizations partnered to support the event.

“We are very excited to welcome Shufuni to the JCCNS this year to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day with our community,” said Sara Ewing, adult program director at the JCCNS. “The JCCNS remains committed to hosting and creating opportunities to promote a connection between Israel and Jewish communities in the U.S., and this was one wonderful opportunity to gather in a proud and powerful demonstration of Jewish peoplehood.”

In addition to the music, the show includes a moderated Q&A with the band’s members, who share their stories of Oct. 7.

Ein Gedy lives on Kibbutz Mefalsim near Gaza, a kibbutz that was somewhat miraculously spared from the Hamas assault. Though the terrorists tried to get in, the security team on the kibbutz, helped by a gate that wouldn’t open (leaving the attackers to enter only on foot), were able to fight them off. Ein Gedy, along with her community, was evacuated and has been living in a hotel in Herzliya since the war began.

“I don’t think I made peace, but I accepted that this is a possibility: That we might not make it today,” Ein Gedy said, remembering Oct. 7.

For her, the concerts have been a powerful reminder of the connection of faith across oceans. Her favorite part of the show is “seeing the way that – I hope – it’ll open people’s hearts,” she said. “The Jewish connection – it’s a powerful thing. I didn’t really realize it.”

Roth noted that the connection goes both ways. For the Israelis on stage, it is powerful to see the physical outpouring of support from the American Jewish community, and for the Americans, it’s powerful to see these embodiments of Israeli life and survival.

“This relationship now, after Oct. 7 – we are in the same boat. We need each other, physically,” said Roth. He said that when the concerts are over, people queue up to meet the artists and to get a hug.

“The music is great and the stories are great, and important,” he said. “But it’s really just about a hug, just to know that we have each other’s back.” Θ

For more information and to reserve a spot, visit jccns.org.

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