Beyond the Walls – A Visit to the Music Center in Salem

November 15, 2017

Thick walls of four occupation fortresses must be scaled by the children of the Salem Music Center, in order to free a little liberation song out of their restless souls – the family fortress, the village/society fortress, the cultural/religious fortress, and the Israeli occupation.

Adults must carve their way through an added, fifth fortress – the hardest of them all: our own patterns which we have empowered to safeguard us from pain and suffering, and they produce the cruelest of occupiers. We, the adults who accompany the children of the music center – the center teachers, directors, supporters – thus yield to our own fatigue, frustration, despair and depression. For seven years we have tried to enable this center to maintain itself, flow on and take wing. And for seven years we have barely managed to have it breathe, and even that has taken enormous effort, a struggle even, to break through the various fortress walls on our way.

We arrived at the point where our strength ran out. We could no longer raise the financial resources to operate the center. In early spring, after it almost sighed its last, the center had a sort of blossoming. It received lodging (not really appropriate but better than its predecessor), the instructor team continued working voluntarily, and new children came to sing and play music.

Keyboards, violins, guitars, the oud, percussion instruments that had been purchased with time and labor resounded again with the little fingers that played them, and hearts jumped for joy.

In the summer the children of the music center were invited to sing and play at a ceremony held in the village in honor of the successful matriculations. The children stood on stage, thrilled, and sang proudly, free to express their moving spirits.

Two days later someone broke into the Local Council building, into the music center space, and cruelly, heartlessly shattered all its musical instruments. Not a single instrument remained intact.

The center’s director reported to us about this event and sent photos of the devastation. “It’s someone from inside”, he said. “Someone from the village itself.” (See

Ehud and I were so stunned we could hardly embrace the pain felt by the director, the teacher, and the children. And we thought that this time the center would not be able to rise above the goings-on.

In early fall we came to visit. In spite of the olive harvest, 20 children surprised us at the music center (of the 45 studying there) and sang for us. If there are no musical instruments, they can sing – said the teacher and the director, both filled with faith, and we stood there thrilled with the children. They sang with such power and grace, yielding to the music breaking out of their innermost feelings and into the room – as though declaring to the world: we are here! We want to sing! I wanted to embrace them, tell them how exciting they were, and that this melody cannot be stopped. But I didn’t want to interrupt, so only the salty, abundant tears that streamed down my cheeks held out to them.

Later, after they finished, with them around us, I asked: What brings you here?
And they answered, each in turn.
I wished to translate every word but the camera card was faulty and there’s no way of extricating the videos taken so lovingly by Danny.

So here is the gist of it:

Some said: I want to learn to play music and sing.
Some said: I want to nurture my musical talent.
Some said: I come here because I love ‘Amid (the music teacher)

No less than their words, the way the children expressed themselves thrilled us: their body language, their intonation, and above all else – their passion.
Their words echoed like a thousand strings and keys and drums.
These children are attached to life and their heartstrings cannot be broken.
As with a magic wand they broke down the fortresses of my own fatigue that protect me from further frustration. They really connected me to my source. To my life-giving source.

Thank you children,
Thank you Jubeir and ‘Amid,

Very lovingly,

(in the name of Ehud, Tamar and Danny and the Villages Group)


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