On Tuesday, February 19, the residents, staff and volunteers of ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran, the southern-based rehabilitative village of Israel’s network of care for children with severe complex disabilities, were treated to a soulful and stirring musical performance by the United Kingdom’s Shabbaton Choir, a special event planned to mark Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month (JDAIM).
For the second straight year, the 25-man choir, led by Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld, senior Rabbi of the Western Marble Arch Synagogue, put on a sensational show, entitled “Solidarity through Song,” their special way of showing that the children of ALEH are always in their thoughts. Accompanied by their own keyboard player, the Shabbaton Choir mesmerized the crowd with new compositions and old favorites. The ALEH residents listened with rapt attention, enjoying the melodious vocals and soaring harmonies. Slowly but surely, the concert transformed into a musical celebration, as those in attendance began to dance and sing along.
“It is always an incredibly moving experience for all of us when the Shabbaton Choir visits to serenade our residents and shower them with love through music,” said Rabbi Yehuda Marmostein, Director General of the ALEH Centers. “Their spirited song touched our souls and lifted our spirits. But more than anything, our ALEH residents will remember that a professional choir makes it a priority to fly all the way from London year after year just to perform for them. This is more than an annual concert – it is a statement that they matter.”
After the concert, Stav Herling-Gosher, the director of Community Relations ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran, took the members of the Shabbaton Choir on a tour of the rehabilitative village, pointing out the therapeutic horseback riding stables and petting zoo, integrated nursery school, specially-designed living quarters, high-tech special education classrooms and top-of-the-line rehabilitation rooms, as well as all of the other tools used to provide the residents with a continuum of loving care from infancy and childhood through adulthood. Throughout the tour, Rabbi Rosenfeld and the other members of the choir noted how impressed they were with the attention given to each child by ALEH’s dedicated staff and volunteers as well as the pioneering rehabilitative and special education techniques developed by the organization to aid and care for Israel’s disability community.
“Giving to children who cannot reciprocate and often not even properly acknowledge your actions is the ultimate expression of chessed (loving kindness), as it is not dependent upon receiving anything in return. However, it was quite evident how much wonder and joy this incredible performance triggered within our residents, all of whom expressed their excitement in their own unique ways,” said Herling-Gosher. “The ALEH residents, staff and volunteers were touched by the beautiful music and moved by the way that the each member of the Shabbaton Choir extended themselves, trying to connect on a deeper level. We are all so grateful and will remember this visit for a long time to come.”