Pleased With Noa Turnout

I enjoyed reading most of Michael Jacobs’ recent column “Becoming Our Own Worst Enemy” (Feb. 19) about Noa’s show in the Atlanta area Sunday, Feb. 14. Like Michael, I am often frustrated and perplexed by the country’s perception of Jewish Atlanta and our contributions to Jewish America.

But unlike Michael, I was quite pleased with the turnout at the show, which ended up being over 300 people. I acknowledge that some Israelis publicly (and loudly) boycotted this event, but let’s be realistic: There were several factors that could have prevented someone from attending, including but not limited to other Valentine’s Day plans, Atlanta Jewish Film Festival tickets, unwillingness to drive to Kennesaw and an inability to shell out $40-plus for a seat. I would argue that for every Israeli who boycotted Noa, someone else attended, despite these challenges, simply to support Shai Robkin, the chair of the Arava celebration concert committee.

And this is the main reason I feel compelled to write. You shared so much about Noa in Atlanta but neglected to mention Shai, who walked the line between visionary leader and fanboy beautifully. For all the difficulties contained within Jewish Atlanta, we are unique in the fact that passionate leaders can accomplish big things because our community is connected like one giant family. We support one another as many Jewish communities, bigger and smaller, simply cannot.

I’ve seen this in other areas of my work and play in Jewish Atlanta, such as the Birthright Israel Atlanta organization, where I am privileged to serve on the Leadership Council. As you know, we hosted Birthright supporters from all over the country in November, and these machers were heaping praise on the standout work of our local Jewish Atlanta community and specifically our fearless leader, Doug Ross.

Doug, Shai and so many Jewish Atlanta leaders (*ahem*) are elevated by Jewish Atlanta as a whole, and if our community were as small and unready for the spotlight as you imply, we wouldn’t have the biggest Jewish film festival in the world, we wouldn’t have the only Jewish music festival in the South, and we wouldn’t have a resurgent Atlanta Jewish Times.

— Russell Gottschalk, Atlanta, executive director, Atlanta Jewish Music Festival

 

A Special Performance

The Atlanta community had a rare opportunity to hear a wonderful voice of song, hope and peace when legendary Israeli recording artist Achinoam Nini (a.k.a. Noa) graced the stage at Kennesaw State on Sunday night, Feb. 14 (“Singer Noa Celebrates Sound Environment,” Feb. 19).

For over 25 years Nini has been a tour de force on the Israeli cultural scene, and Sunday night Nini showed the 300-plus attendees just why she is so loved around the world. She is a proud and unrelenting voice for peace, and while this voice has recently been misinterpreted as a bias toward one of the players on the political scene, all Nini wants to do is find a common language of peace and understanding.

Her performance benefited the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, which is actively building bridges of peace every day with Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinians. Nini’s uplifting and beautiful music took everyone in the audience to a wonderful place that keeps the hope in all of us alive where our challenges and problems might best be dealt with in song, study and respect instead of the vitriol that has overcome so much of the dialogue.

Steve Berman, Sandy Springs

 

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