Looking at Israel, from numerous vantage points, there is much to be concerned about.  I founded The Sacred Rights, Sacred Song Project (SRSS) in 2010 with the mission to use choral music to spotlight abuses of power by narrow-minded religious authorities in Israel, with the goal of strengthening the voices of moderate democracy within our Jewish conversation.  In the past 5 years, SRSS has done important work for the Modern Jewish Democracy Movement through our eight concerts and the Sh’ma Yisrael video.

The Fall of 2015/5776 presents us with an entirely new set of facts as the reality of the Iran deal settles over an already rattled Israel that is once again enduring a wave of uncontained violence.  It is exactly at such a time that Sacred Rights, Sacred Song reasserts the importance of strengthening core democratic values within Israel so that the modern Jewish State may be a light unto the nations, especially in the very bad neighborhood which is the contemporary Middle East.  SRSS makes clear that one can, and in fact should, be concerned about both vital security issues and domestic issues. In a healthy democracy, weaknesses in the societal fabric can no longer be justified by real concern and fear. While I am powerless with respect to making peace with our enemy right now, I do have  a creative way to help correct abuses of power within Israeli society, strengthening the moderate voice, making peace within our Jewish society.  Perhaps that spirit of tolerance will spill over to the Arab world.  First to a legitimate and responsible State of Palestine, and then perhaps beyond and even to the moderate masses of Iran. Music has a unique way of reaching people when other things don’t.

I invite all “Wexners” — members, fellows, alumni — to the first NYC area Sacred Rights, Sacred Song, Concert of Concern on Sunday, Nov. 15 at 7 pm at Ansche Chesed, 251 W. 100st at West End Ave, where Wexner Graduate Fellowship alum Jeremy Kalmanofsky (Class 5) is the rabbi.  Please email me for details. Finally, if you are a singer and would like to participate in the chorus, there is still time to add your voice.

Fran Gordon is a Wexner Heritage Alum (Cleveland 2) who divides her time between New York and Cleveland. She is heavily involved in Israeli advocacy through JAFI and the Zamir Choral Foundation. She is the founder and producer of Sacred Rights, Sacred Song and continues to look for communities that want to partner with SRSS to produce Concerts of Concern. On a personal note, my 3 children have grown and 1 is married with 2 children, making me a very young grandmother! Fran can be reached at fmgordon32958@gmail.com.