Monday, October 17, 2011

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Rav Arush opens a Concert?!

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

Every year the city of Beit Shemesh holds a music festival in it’s open air public amphitheater.  As the city has been taking on a more religious approach to operations (with the religious population becoming a majority in the last election and electing an ultra-orthodox mayor), there was some contention last year between the festival and the more extreme religious elements of the city council.  (Note not really from the citzenry, as the amphitheater is far away from the ultra-orthodox sections of town, which to some extent operate as NIMBY’s – not in my back yard types, if it’s in or next to their neighborhood they care about it, if not, not.)

A few years ago someone with the city had a really bright idea.  During Chol HaMoed, the intermediate days of Succot and Passover, the city is somewhat burdened and pressured to provide some public entertainment activities for it’s poorer citizens – with associated budget costs.  And it’s got this running internal conflict over whether it’s relatively successful music festival, a nice cultural event providing some good city exposure, should continue and whether it fits the image of the city.

(Video from last year.)

So they moved the music festival to be during Chol HaMoed Succot!  Free entertainment for the citizenry, continuance of a popular and image oriented event, and it’s during a religious time where the secular oriented are not going to complain about it having religious themes, and the religious oriented are not going to complain about public entertainment.  Frankly, a brilliant move!

The 18th of Tishrei (last night) is the yaretzheit of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, zt”l.  This date falls during Chol HaMoed Succot every year and is taken by Breslev chassidim as a day of increasing over the regular rejoicing of Chol HaMoed and Simchas Beis HaShoeva.  In honor of this, the Beit Shemesh music festival had a Breslev Music night.

rarushAnd the Breslev Music night of the Beit Shemesh music festival (ShemeshFest) was opened by…HaRav Shalom Arush, shlita!  Which has to be the first time I’d ever heard of a tzaddik opening a concert!

Rav Arush was warmly received, and the crowd (separate sides for men and women) thoroughly enjoyed the energetic Breselv music throughout the evening.  The last performer, the well known Breslev singer Adi Ran, was unfortunately but very courteously interrupted by the police after multiple encores, as the hour was late and noise laws prevented the concert from continuing with surrounding residential neighborhoods within hearing range. 

Last night the Breslevers, including a Breslev tzadik, rejoiced with the whole city of Beit Shemesh.  How cool is that?

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