People of all ages, religions, and backgrounds gathered together in a warmly lit hall in Enav Cultural Center in Tel Aviv Saturday night to celebrate the life, and perpetuate the message, of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, through one of his favorite languages, the language of music.
The event was sponsored by the US Embassy’s Office of Public Affairs, and opened with a welcome by Master of Ceremonies, Senior Editor for the Israeli Broadcasting Authority, Daniel Pe’er.
In his cordial greeting, Pe’er quoted award winning internet journalist, Kevin Sites, saying, “Pearl was the bravest American journalist of our generation. With half his courage and mighty heart we can tell the truth in a world of those reluctant to hear it.”
Alei Gefen Chorus sing for peace (Photo: Rula Saba)
US Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission Gene Cretz, also addressed the audience and spoke of the importance of such events in building bridges of understanding and tolerance through music.
“Rhythm and melodies bring us together in ways real words can never do”, Cretz said, “That is the goal of the organization.”
Pe’er, reading from a letter by Pearl’s parents, Judea and Ruth Pearl, spoke of Pearl’s “spirit that knew no prejudice” and of how he "recognized the power of music" in human life.
Pearl’s parents' touching letter ended, "Tonight Daniel is smiling over Tel Aviv, and saying, ‘This is my favorite planet, and these are my people’, and the choir will echo, ‘This is your victory Danny.’”
Editor of Israel’s Channel One, David Witzthum, spoke of the difficulties and limitations journalists face and said they were often "slaves of the tyranny of the deadline".
Witzthum commended the tireless efforts journalists made to tell the world’s important stories, a goal that Pearl dedicated his life, and eventually, his death to.
As the speeches ended, the music began with the Alei Gefen Chorus’ beautiful rendition of Cantor David Grosz’s “Tabernacle of Peace”, a well-known Hebrew prayer put to music that was discovered in Austria four years ago, and sent to the Chorus’ conductor, and Grosz’s son, Eli Gefen.
The Chorus’ performance included works by Mozart, Lewandowski, Tchaikowsky, Granados, Chesnokov, Grosz, Lukas, Shemer, Rutter, and Seeger in Hebrew, English, and Russian.
Formed in 1990 by Choral Conductor and Artistic Director, Eli Gefen, the Alei Gefen Chorus has performed for diverse audiences of all religions world wide in the name of co-existence and acceptance.
At the end of the Chorus’ angelic performance, Syliva Gefen, Eli Gefen’s wife and member of the Chorus, thanked the audience, saying, “Your presence here shows me that death has no power over Daniel Pearl. His vision and spirit shine on in all of us.”
“Harmony for Humanity” was just one of 360 concerts held in 36 countries this October in commemoration of Pearl and his love for music. The Daniel Pearl Foundation launched the first Daniel Pearl Music Days events on 10 October, 2002, which would have been the US journalist’s 39th birthday.