This week’s Good News Friday post comes in the shadow of Yom Hashoah and in the build-up to Israel’s Memorial Day next week – which will be followed by Israel’s 70th Independence Day.
In the bittersweet atmosphere of the day I thought it appropriate to post this beautiful video which has been making the rounds on social media for a while. First, here is the background to the song and the Kululam (or Koolulam) group which organized the event:
Ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day, held this year on April 12, 600 Holocaust survivors and their families gathered in Jerusalem to sing a song together called “Chai,” the Hebrew word for “life.”
The participants, including survivors and their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, learned the words in about an hour before performing together under the direction of Koolulam, a social initiative that organizes mass singing events.
The song was written by Ehud Manor and Avi Toledano and popularized by Ofra Haza as Israel’s entry in the Eurovision contest in 1983. The song includes the lyrics “I’m still alive, and both my eyes still look toward the light, I’ve suffered thorns, and yet borne flowers, ahead are years too numerous to count.”
The event was organized by Koolulam, Jerusalem cultural center Beit Avi Chai and Zikaron Basalon, or “living room memories,” a group that provides a forum for Holocaust survivors to tell their stories to small groups in a personal setting.
The clip has racked up over 650,000 views on Facebook since it was posted on Sunday.
Koolulam is a social initiative that aims to foster unity among Israelis from diverse backgrounds by organizing mass singing events. Its popularity has soared since it kicked off in Tel Aviv in April 2017, with Israelis jumping at the opportunity to come together with dozens, hundreds or thousands of strangers to sing. In under an hour, participants learn a three-part arrangement of a Hebrew or English song, and then perform it for a video to be shared on social media. Views of the videos reach into the hundreds of thousands, and millions in some cases.
The name is a multiple play on the English word “cool,” the Hebrew word kulam (everyone), the Hebrew word kol (voice), and “kululu,” the joyful ululation sound made by some Israelis of North African and Middle Eastern descent at happy occasions like bar mitzvahs and weddings.
And here is the fabulous video which will have you smiling yet with tears of emotion in your eyes:
I love this clip so much I keep playing it again and again. It expresses so much hope and determination to live in the face of all odds – the classic Jewish response to tragedy. Just see the smiles on the faces of these Holocaust survivors who went through a nightmarish reality, yet didn’t let it destroy them. As opposed to our enemies who choose death for themselves and for us, with yet more invasion attempts on our border with Gaza – these survivors and their families chose life – Chai.
On a similarly sublime note, here is Hatikva as you have never heard it before – played on restored Holocaust-era violins:
May the inspirational lives of these survivors light our way into Shabbat.
Wishing you all Shabbat Shalom.