January 30, 2020
When we met in 2016, they were recovering from winter at the tent city of Calais Jungle in northern France. Now they live in flats in France or England. They have jobs. One has a girlfriend. Another, a baby. All of them speak and walk with more ease.
Over the holiday, I visited with four refugee friends who fled Syria, Iraq, Sudan, and Iran. Here is Yasser after we beat out a little body music together.
They made time for me, offered me a place a stay. They spoke my language though I might have bothered to learn theirs. But I am American, and one of many privileges I enjoy is the expectation that others will switch to English to accommodate me. I don’t feel good about this but it is, nonetheless, true.
I returned to California just in time to hear Jerusalem Youth Chorus perform at SF City Hall. Last summer, EAR partnered with Jerusalem Youth Chorus to teach music at Jerusalem Singing Camp. For two weeks, twenty-two Palestinian, Israeli Jewish and Armenian teens sang and engaged in dialogue. In Jerusalem, this is radical. Oakland’s Austin Willacy brought arrangements and a magical way of engaging youth. Micah Hendler, director of Jerusalem Youth Chorus, organized the camp with his amazing staff. Moira Smiley graced the camp with her gorgeous voice and presence. She and Austin folded the youth into a performance. Our wonderful Armenian hosts at the Armenian Benevolent Society opened their space and hearts. Hani Kreitem, the premiere Palestinian choral director in Jerusalem, and Jared Michaud, got the youth singing.
Several of the alum from Jerusalem Youth Chorus assisted at Jerusalem Summer Camp in August 2019. They mentored the incoming youth. Imagine my joy to watch the professional touring ensemble of alum from JYC in SF.
Your donations enable us to expose more youth in Jerusalem to another way of being together. https://www.gofundme.com/y5dse2ak/donate