The Event Raised Funds for Givat Haviva International School in Israel
More than 75 Palisadians gathered Sunday afternoon, March 3, for a concert and fundraiser by the famous Middle-Eastern musical group, the Yuval Ron Ensemble, at the Sharq Art gallery.
The nonprofit gallery in the El Medio Bluffs, which just celebrated its 15th anniversary in Pacific Palisades, lent its space out for the fundraiser, benefiting the Givat Haviva International School.
The school is a two-year baccalaureate high school in Israel dedicated to educating Arabs, Jewish people and International students in leadership and conflict resolution using the recognized capabilities of Givat Haviva, winner of the UNESCO prize for peace education.
“In a sense, this event isn’t really a Sharq event,” explained gallery operator Nahid Massoud, who owns and operates the gallery with her husband, author Dr. Robert Rosenstone. “We’ve never done two events before in such a short space of time; usually they’re months apart … we’re lending our gallery for the fundraiser to support Givat Haviva.”
Rosenstone introduced the Yuval Ron Ensemble, which includes Jewish, Christian and Muslim artists. The group “endeavors to alleviate national, racial, religious and cultural divides by uniting the music and dance of the people of the Middle East.” The group is led by famous oud player and composer Yuval Ron.
“This great group has been bringing together the music of the Middle East in an attempt, as musicians might, to unite the world,” Rosenstone said to the audience at the event.
The ensemble went through several pieces that had the crowd swaying, nodding and tapping to the sonorous spectacle of ouds, derbekkeh drums, tambourines, and flutes.
Famed vocalist Nawja Gibran offered a transcendent performance that commanded one to close the eyes and listen. Norik Manoukian played a variety of woodwinds that chirped, whistled and entwined with the lyrics.
Ava Nahas and David Martinelly provided the finger-snapping, hand-clapping percussion that had every patron jiving. It was a performance that reverberated throughout the gallery, filling the small space with rich sounds.
“For me, Givat Haviva is one of the points of light, one of the remedies to the increased hate and fear around the world,” Yuval Ron told the Post at the event. “One of the most important things in the world is education—this school especially, training kids to be leaders in conflict resolution and bringing people together—is something we deeply support and encourage.”
Givat Haviva director Nurit Gery took the stage after rousing applause led the ensemble off.
“This school started as a dream,” Gery said. “Now, it’s a dream that’s come true, and it’s one I’m proud to share with you. It wasn’t easy. Even my husband thought I was crazy back then, saying, ‘Who do you think is going to want to come to this school?’ Now, here we are, and we’ve just opened our doors this past September to 56 students.”
Givat Haviva has a class makeup that’s 25 percent Israeli Arabs, 25 percent Israeli Jews and 50 percent international students from a total of 15 countries around the world, including Sudan, Kosovo, the USA, India and Liberia.
“I wanted to build a school that would bring different leaders to this world, that could bring people together,” Gery said. “Givat Havivia is about one thing over everything else: love.”