Photo credits: Mendi Kurant
Video credits: Yanki Elharar
Friendship Circle Jerusalem presented a concert like no other during this year’s Hoshana Rabbah. Since its inception 4 years ago, it never fails to amaze. Although they realized the concert this year would be live, the people who flocked to the #NIGHTOFSONG4EVERYCHILD, had no idea that they were in for a special treat.
18 Special Needs Organizations were hosted by FC Jerusalem, a project of the Chabad Shluchim to Talbiya-Mamilla, Rabbi Eli and Chanie Canterman, on Sukkot, at the 4th annual Rockin’ Friendship concert, saluting people with special needs.
Last Sukkot – October 2020, the organization’s heads beat many odds and broadcast a live-streamed concert from the ‘Tower of David’ in Jerusalem’s old city, sending joy into the homes of special needs youth worldwide.
This year, the concert was held in person at the whimsical Mitchell Park, backdropped by the illuminated walls of the old city.
Yet again, the team effort of FC Jerusalem together with Tzvaim Productions who paid attention to the tiniest detail, resulted in an evening that was moving, entertaining and beautiful.
Rockin’ Friendship #4 featured a line up of unequaled entertainers led by singers Chaim Zippel, Nissim Black and Gad Elbaz.
Emcee Elazar Fingerer introduced the evening, lifting the spirits of the crowd from the start and they, in turn, took his cue and the enthusiasm of all was immediately apparent.
The interaction of the crowd with the Emcee and later with the singers personified the essence of Friendship Circle and was a total Win-Win for all participants.
The atmosphere was electric as it propelled the audience into spontaneous clapping and cheering as the children of each individual school were welcomed in a rousing roll call.
The first guest was the irrepressible ‘Israel School of Music’ star Chaim Zippel. As an FC friend and dedicated volunteer for over 6 years, he set the tone for the rest of the evening. With each passing year his talent and comfort on stage grows and his incredible voice wows the audience.
In a show of spontaneous eagerness, some of the children began to dance and the joy on their faces was heartwarming.
Emotions heightened when Chaim invited Schneur Lesselbaum, a young, fun-loving child with special needs to join him on stage with his father, to sing Schneur’s favorite song ‘Abba’. The crowd was brought to tears, specifically as this followed an emotional video featuring Shneur, his social FC [email protected] Buddy and the impact of FC programs on his entire family.
As the next performer, Nissim Black stepped forward in his trademark black shtreimel and white ‘Bekescher’, children and teen friends alike were exuberant, springing up and out of their seats and their wheelchairs as the music began. Together with the crowd of close to 1000 participants, they danced and sang with him, never missing a beat or word of his rap.
Perhaps, the profound happiness of the children, their families and teen friends is what spurred rap star Nissim Black to deliver one of his most successful performances yet.
As each moment progressed, more and more people left their seats, dancing towards the stage.
Children and FC friends waved their hands and reveled in the embrace of the wider community who saluted them in appreciation of their daily victories over unique challenges.
In the heat of the event, a surprise guest was announced and Mayor Moshe Leon, overcome with the heightened joy in the air, took the mic and said, “I did not believe I would see so many Jerusalem residents here tonight, so full of love and kindness. At this point, I need not speak. Let us just sing together.” He performed two songs and invited the special children to join him as he did.
A beautiful clip of FC Jerusalem’s camp Klara (sponsored in memory of Clara Frankel) was shown as her daughter Suzie Frankel, was called up to receive a gift.
“My mother’s sole intent was to bring joy to others and the joy she experiences seeing tonight, and the children shining at Summer Camp Klara, knows no limits,” Suzie remarked with emotion.
Another Winning ticket was young FC representative Tutti Sasson, who for the 3rd year in succession, invited the concert guests in her effervescent manner, to recite Amen to her heartfelt blessings.
The audience cheered and clapped at Tutti’s self-made sense of humor that she interspersed throughout her prepared text.
The final guest of the evening was world-renowned Gad Elbaz, whose boundless energy was contagious. Gad Elbaz connected instantly with special individuals in the crowd, uplifting them, song after song with his magnificent voice.
Gad’s ‘Hashem Melech’ had the park rocking with unbridled joy as the singer sang with his heart on his sleeve. He brought two further surprises – his son and Tal Vaknin to join him in song.
This was the first time in almost two years that many of the children had attended a large gathering; let alone a concert saluting them as guests of honor.
Mendi Goldstock of FC Jerusalem sprinted onto the stage to show his talent on the drums.
FC Central Jerusalem director Chanie Canterman thanked the children, FC friends and supporters, as well as the ‘Tzamid’ department at the Jerusalem Municipality for their ongoing giving and support, and summed up the evening in a few words: “The Rockin’ Friendship 4 event was nothing short of a miracle. A Divine hand was extended and I truly believe, this was in the merit of children and individuals with exceptional souls and capabilities, who deserve friendship, kindness and community inclusion at its best.”
Guest Diane Laufer added, “ When a child like Schneur Lesselbaum calls “Abba Abba”, there is NO doubt that He WILL listen..”