On Thursday Night, February 28, Jews from all walks of life flocked to Barclays Center, the new state of the art arena at the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues in Brooklyn. Walking outside the area gave one an almost Jerusalem-like feel as the excitement built for a historic night of Jewish music.
With its location in a county with the most concentrated Jewish population outside of Israel, it was only a matter of time before a world class Jewish act would perform at Barclays Center.
World-renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman took the stage with Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot, arguably the world’s foremost cantor, for an evening that could only be described as magical. Perlman and Helfgot amazed with songs from their wonderful album, “Eternal Echoes: Songs and Dances for the Soul.”
The event benefited the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, one of New York’s top Human Services agencies which serves over 100,000 New Yorkers each year, and the Perlman Music Program, which offers unparalleled musical training to young string players of rare and special talent.
As wonderful as the music was, what truly stole the night was the audience. Perlman and Helfgot framed the artwork of Jewish unity wall-to-wall in the arena.
Sitting side by side were an array of Jewish people – chassidic, Modern Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Israelis, Russians and more – clapping together and singing along with the beautiful songs that reached deep into the Jewish soul of all those in attendance. There were affluent Jews, middle class Jews, working class Jews and even those in need who bought tickets for $20 just to be part of this special night.
The Perlman/Helfgot concert was the first of what we hope will be many top-tier events at Barclays Center that will bring the Jewish community of New York, and particularly Brooklyn, together.
It was an event that we share a sense of pride for bringing Jewish culture and religious music to thousands. We noticed the families sharing the moment with their kids and wondered how much of an impact this will have in future generations and on Jewish continuity. We hope they will have more opportunities like this one.
About the Author: Bruce C. Ratner is chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies and majority owner of Barclays Center. William E. Rapfogel is CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty.
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