My eyes were peeled to the TV as the drama of the release of the hostages unfolded. I cried when the first group made their way into the white vans with the Red Cross logo flag on its roof slowly passing into Egypt and again during the transfer to bring the children home to Israel.
But how bittersweet for the families of the hostages who were not released. A torture of its own each hour of each day. My heart goes out to them.
Saturday night, Rabbi Marc Schneier led his congregation in a “Stand with Israel” concert. His powerful words reassured his congregation that the Israelis will be successful and that victory will be theirs.
That led to a brilliant and inspiring musical performance starring Netanel Hershtik, the Hampton Synagogue cantor, who sang an emotional rendition of the magical song from “Les Miserables,” “Bring Him Home.” It was so appropriate and the standing room only audience stood and cheered his performance and the message behind it.
The evening was elevated with the guest “talks” by the brilliant Tovah Feldshuh, who is coming off a year and a half on Broadway, and our beloved New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.
I felt elated to hear the talented performers singing their hearts out and lifting my spirits, overcoming the day’s despairing, but hopeful news from Israel.
Earlier in the week, the brilliant actors sang and danced their hearts out performing “Amid Falling Walls” at the National Yiddish Theatre. It reminded me of the play “Harmony,” which featured music by Barry Manilow.
This story is set before World War II in Europe and highlights the antisemitism and Nazi movement that resulted in millions of Jews being murdered.
“Amid Falling Walls,” referring to the ghettos in Europe, has an extraordinarily talented cast.
The director, Motl Didner, brought this hour and half musical to life, explaining, “Twenty years ago, I was given a CD, ‘Ghetto Tango,’ and it captured my imagination.” The play was born out of that fascination.
The superb cast brought us through the joyous days and desperate ones. It was a truly compelling musical performance and I felt lucky to be there.
The audience cheered the talented actors and you will, too! The performances will continue until Dec. 10 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. Visit mjhnyc.org for more information.
Sadness in my beloved Queens
Queens, the international borough, where 32 different languages are spoken in Flushing High School, is a unique place on the planet Earth. The beauty of the borough is the celebration of each ethnic group all living peacefully side by side.
Sadly, a group of about 100 students out of over 2,500 stormed the hallways at Hillcrest High School, flying the Palestinian flag, rioting and looking to harm a Jewish teacher who had attended the Rally for Israel the previous week.
These students are hoodlums who should be punished and expelled from school, but they also need a lesson about the Middle East and the difference between the Hamas terrorists ruling Gaza and the Democratic government leading Israel.
Actions require reaction and hopefully the abominable acts of these rioting students will be punished and they will be better informed.
For over 50 years, Willie Mae Goodman has been a fierce advocate for people with disabilities. Her daughter Margaret celebrated her 68th birthday with many friends at Sylvia’s restaurant in Harlem, including Jose and Andrea Rivera. I was glad to be there!