Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

May 30, 2013

Peace and unity, post-Marathon bombings

Sabbath performance aims to continue healing, calming anger

By Judy Wakefield

---- — It’s been six weeks since the Boston Marathon bombings.

Rabbi Robert S. Goldstein of Temple Emanuel in Andover knows that the alleged perpetrators have been found and their suspected helpers identified.

Goldstein has seen people from across the globe show great humanity by turning their outrage and anger into acts of generosity and support for the injured and the families of those who perished.

But yet he’s also troubled by the reports he’s hearing of hatred toward foreigners.

“We are so polarized ... so angry about those coming here, so angry ... too many among us have used the bombings as an excuse to express hatred toward law-abiding immigrants who, like our own ancestors, came to these shores seeking a better life,” Goldstein said.

For the local rabbi, his post-bombing reflections fueled a desire to do something more. He along with his congregation wanted to find a way to reach out and bring people together.

“‘Boston Strong’ is an expression of unity, not a cry for vengeance,” Goldstein said.

It was the temple’s cantor — Idan Irelander — who came up with the idea of uniting people around music.

Irelander has assembled a group of talented musicians from all over the globe who will perform at Temple Emanuel on Friday night, May 31. It’s designed as a peaceful unity performance to be performed during the Sabbath service. The public is invited.

“In other settings, some of these musicians may not even speak to each other,” Goldstein wrote in an email about the concert. “This politically and ethnically diverse group will sit together, playing music written at a time when Jews, Christians and Moslems lived in peace in places like Spain, Morocco and Turkey,”

Irelander is well connected to the Boston music scene. As a result, musicians from Israel, Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Japan will perform the program of music of the Sephardic Jewish tradition.

Goldstein points to Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl” as a good example of surviving difficult emotional times.

“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains,” Goldstein quotes from Frank’s writings.

Saying music is a universal language shared by all humans, Goldstein believes music is a good way to help anyone’s healing.

“Nothing reflects the beauty of the human spirit more than music,” he wrote. “When people are singing, they can’t argue. Music expresses emotion, but not hate or enmity.”


When: Friday, May 31, 7 p.m.

Where: Temple Emanuel, 7 Haggetts Pond Road, Andover

How: Free, public invited