A visit to a concert at Al Kamandjati, a music school in Old Ramallah.

The beat-up Arab bus outside the Hebron settlement had been sitting around for ½ hour not filling up and not about to leave and I had questioned my decision to take the Arab shuttle rather than the slick new Israeli bus leaving inside the settlement.   Yes, there are two bus systems in Hebron, since Jews are not allowed to enter Hebron proper.  This restriction seems indeed to refer to “Jews”, not only Israelis, as the posted sign at the settlement exit indicates (see blog Day 89 from yesterday).  When I left the settlement the soldier specifically asked me if I was Jewish.  This Hebron world is warped!

But then a bunch of five foreigners arrived and there was a chance we would leave eventually.  As things go when you meet other travelers abroad, we started talking.   This was a German-British dual language family of two music-teacher parents and three music performing children.  The older ones were stationed as music teacher volunteers in Ramallah, at Al Kamandjati, meaning “The Violinist”, in Arabic.

I learned that there had been a gifted man who grew up in Al Amari, the Palestinian refugee camp in Ramallah, and became an internationally renowned musician.  In that position, he wanted to pass on the opportunity to study music to other children and in 2003 started the Al Kamandjati foundation which now provides musical education to children Ramallah, in Lebanon, and soon in other places.  The family I met on the bus was giving a concert at the school the next day, the day David would arrive.  What a “full immersion experience” it would be for David, to arrive from Ann Arbor and as his first experience go to a concert in a West Bank town?!  Obviously, that’s why I was on that bus.  Obviously, this had to be.

David boarded a bus to a place “north of Jerusalem” to a surprise concert…

OK, it wasn’t the New York Symphony playing, but it came from the heart.  First, a whole bunch of girls accompanied a children’s song on their flutes.  They were obviously beginners.  But it was impressive to see them playing on first-rate instruments and with great enthusiasm.  The next number in the program was a percussion piece and more than a dozen boys got out their drums, rattles, and cymbals.  In more or less synchrony but again with great passion, they played their instruments. This was the group, the family’s oldest son had been instructing for the last six month.   The remainder of the program was provided by the family who played on recorders, ocarinas, ocornomeuse, crumhorn, gemshorns, a sausage bassoon, and other – let’s say not your run-of-the-mill, instruments.  Many of their pieces would qualify as musical spoofs and the players as well as the listeners had great fun with it.  The finale was a piece in which the youngest son conducted the audience to pop balloons with tooth picks at particular times and to join in a “Hahaha” chorus!  I guess you get the picture.

And so went David’s first ½ day in Israel.

Tomorrow, Maria and Jack will arrive and for the next two weeks I will be on vacation; sort of.  I will try to keep the blog going, but it may be a bit shorter as I will socialize a bit more than usual.

Good night.

2 comments so far

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  1. What a fun surprise for David! The concert sounds like it was fun. I hope you enjoy the visit with your family!

  2. Music is a universal language – a way to build bridges, perhaps. I am sure you have heard many of the stories of Jews playing their way out of camps during the war. The conductor of the Ann Arbor Symphony’s family saved themselves with their instruments – playing for their captors.

    Time now for you to relax a bit and enjoy yourself for it must have been very emotionally exhausting – especially these past few days experiencing the seething hatred people hold onto forever towards others.