by Marilyn Goldberg Johns
A visit to the Matnas (community center) at Pardes Katz, struck many chords with the Tidewater Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project. Located outside of Tel Aviv, Pardes Katz has been an Israeli sister community with Tidewater for more than 20 years.
The highlight of our visit was a music performance given by a group of enthusiastic 10- to 12-year-olds. Forming this group has been a dream of their music teacher, Tal Markovits, for several years. It became a reality when a talented Israeli soldier volunteered his piano playing skills and electric piano to accompany the children for singing practices and performances.
“The students attend five different schools during the day and attend afterschool practices twice a week for two to three hours at a time,” explains Markovits. “It is very difficult for their families to get the students to the center because of family hardships, but they make a huge effort because of the wonderful things that happen here for them.”
For some of the children, this is the first time they have ever sung. So, they feel like rock stars when they are singing for an audience. Markovits even holds auditions to add a bit of competition to be a part of the group. The children proudly wear donated T-shirts that help them feel special.
Our JWRP group gave them a standing ovation and enjoyed conversations with them about Israel, living in America, their favorite subjects in school and just loving music.
Being treated like a dignitary during our visit was special but, it was even more special knowing that our Tidewater Jewish community does a mitzvah every day by helping to fill a need by providing services for families in one of Israel’s poorest communities.