Local culture in Israel

Every Monday at noon we have a concert in the center of Netanya, sponsored
by an organization called ‘Shearim’ (Gates). This was started by the
Conservative Rabbi, Rabbi Berenbaum, in order to provide an outlet for the
many Russian and other immigrant musicians who came to Israel in the
1980-90s. Today we went to hear a concert given by a young violinist named
Adrian Justus, who is from Mexico, but lives in Tel Aviv and plays around
the world. He was a superb violinist, I have never seen such incredible
technique. He played the Marlborough Stradivarius violin. The sound was
sweet and strong. The hall was packed. He is going next week to play as a
soloist around Mexico with the Mexican National Symphony Orchestra. He
played the piece he will play with them, called ‘Paganiniada’ by Cesar
Milstein, an extremely demanding piece. Anyway, the standard at these
concerts is extremely high, in his case even world class. And this is in
the comparative cultural backwater of Netanya.
We have seen/heard excellent pianists, cellists, flautists, clarinetists,
some playing with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra some with the Israel
Opera in Tel Aviv. One of the pianists was a chassid. He was a baby-faced
young man with payot and a black kippah, and he played like an angel. A
favorite clarinetist plays klezmer as well as classical. Its a great
bargain at less than $5 a time. There is also a Prof. Spivak from Russia
who has a music school and has an arrangement with AACI whereby some of his
top students perform one evening a month.
Next Saturday evening we are going to the first of a season of concerts by
the Herzliya Chamber Orchestra for which we have a subscription. This was
started by Harvey Bordowitz, an immigrant from the US 25 years ago. He was
not an experienced conductor, but he made a deal with the forward-looking
Mayor of Herzliya to start the orchestra, and it is now thriving, and
performs in the brand new Herzliya Performance Center, which is about 20
mins drive for us. He manages to attract a slew of international soloists
and conductors, and he arranges the concerts each time with an interesting
These cultural events are typical of Israel. There is a Beersheva
Symphonietta that is wonderful, and each year the Beersheva based Light
Opera Group of the Negev (LOGON) performs a musical (in English) that tours
Israel and is great for a group of dedicated amateurs (this year Cole
Porter’s “Anything goes”). Also in Beersheva the local chess club founded by
a former Russian chess master is this year hosting the International Chess
Federation’s annual team competition. My grand-son is a member of this
club. Israel is now the fifth ranked chess country in the world. Note that
there are also 50 American football teams in Israel, the largest league
outside the US.
And this is without mentioning the many cultural activities in Tel Aviv and
Jerusalem that take place in Hebrew and the major symphony orchestras. In
Tel Aviv is the unique Susan Dellal Center dedicated to dance and is the
home of the famous Batsheva Dance Company and the Inbal Israeli Dance
Company. In every area the influx of former Russian and other musicians
has added to the native Israelis to produce a great ferment of cultural
activities, including art, dance and drama. Would you expect anything less
from a Jewish State?


One thought on “Local culture in Israel

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