Noa (Achinoam Nini) drew an official crowd of 342 people and increased awareness of Israel’s Arava Institute for Environmental Studies during what is believed to be the Israeli singer’s first Atlanta-area concert Sunday night, Feb. 14, at Kennesaw State University.
Noa and her collaborator of 26 years, Gil Dor, waived their appearance fee while making time in their American tour to perform the benefit concert, which organizer Shai Robkin said was the first U.S. event to celebrate the Arava Institute’s 20th anniversary.
Robkin called Noa the world’s greatest singer and said he has traveled around the United States and Israel to hear her. But the concert did not sell out Morgan Hall at KSU’s Bailey Performance Center even though it was all about support for the Arava Institute, a Jewish National Fund partner, and for the Israel Ride, a five-day, 300-mile bicycle ride benefiting the institute, JNF and environmental organization Hazon.
Controversy over Noa’s pro-peace statements and left-leaning political views led to talk of a boycott, although no protesters showed up. Those who stayed away missed an outstanding performance showcasing Noa’s vocal range and musical flexibility.
Many prominent members of the Jewish community joined the crowd, including at least five Conservative rabbis: Michael Bernstein of Congregation Gesher L’Torah, Neil Sandler of Ahavath Achim Synagogue, Analia Bortz and Mario Karpuj of Congregation Or Hadash, and Mark Zimmerman of Congregation Beth Shalom. Rabbi Zimmerman had the privilege of singing onstage with Noa and Dor during their encore.
Afterward, Robkin presented the Israeli performers with several Arava-related gifts, including fleece jackets and copies of the only CD issued by the local band Paz, which includes Robkin and Rabbi Zimmerman.