President’s Greeting: Jan/Feb 2013

Beginning in January, we present a new music series entitled “Journeys and Encounters,” featuring an eclectic line-up of global talents. Though they hail from diverse ethnic backgrounds and artistic traditions, their music-making demonstrates the beauty that emerges from openhearted cross-cultural exchange.

My son Gideon and I in Rwamagana, Rwanda.

In 2012, I journeyed to Rwamagana, in rural Rwanda, and enjoyed firsthand the joy of connecting across cultures. I was visiting Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village (the Kinyarwanda-Hebrew name, agahozo–shalom, translates roughly to “a place of peace where tears are dried”). Co-founded by my son Gideon Herscher, it is a residential community for orphans emotionally scarred by the genocide in Rwanda. One evening, Gideon brought his guitar to a gathering and sang a traditional Hebrew lullaby. The young teens listened attentively. Gideon invited them to sing a Rwandan lullaby, which they did at the top of their lungs. Without skipping a beat, Gideon began to compose a new lullaby, an elegant, impromptu blend of the two songs. All of us were enthralled by this meaningful encounter of two deeply rooted heritages. We joined our voices together and sang in unison.

It is true that in journeys and encounters, we break down barriers. The great divides between communities turn out to be thin veneers. We discover new worlds and experience the wonderment of meeting new friends, sharing our life stories—and, perhaps, making music together. In these coming months, join us for “Journeys and Encounters” and rejoice in song as one way to express and celebrate our shared humanity.

Two of the many family residences of Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, where some 500 children and 100 adults live.

Two of the many family residences of Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, where some 500 children and 100 adults live communally.

Note: This greeting was published in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of At the Skirball. Pick up your copy during your next visit to the Skirball, or visit to find out about all that the Skirball is offering in the coming months. Happy New Year from all of us at the Skirball. Hope to see you soon!

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