Thursday, October 16, 2014

Harmony for Humanity

This week my family and I attended Harmony for Humanity at Stanford's Memorial Church - a musical tribute that is part of an international network of concerts to honor the memory of Daniel Pearl - a Generation X journalist with both Israeli and American citizenship who was slain in 2002. Daniel attended Stanford as a young man and each year a musical tribute is held here by students and faculty.  The tribute also takes place each year on the same day in other places around the world.

It was the strangest thing on our way there, it felt like it was the first day Autumn had finally come to to that part of Bay Area.  It was as if the wind and leaves and sky were paying a tribute to Daniel's memory that evening.  Daniel was a perfect example of one of the best assets of the collective personality of Generation X - respect and understanding for other cultures.

Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann gave a beautiful and comforting sermon about the night.  She mentioned how the annual musical tribute for him always happens in the Fall since that was the time of year Danny was born, and she talked about the Festival of Sukkot in which we found ourselves - a time of year to focus on what matters most - community, charity, being open to the world around us.  Sukkots were the temporary and fragile shelters, the tents, that the Hebrews lived in during their sojourn in the desert.  She spoke of how there is a certain vulnerability in these structures - that if we exist in structures like these, both literally and figuratively, others can easily enter them.  If we live figuratively in vulnerable structures like this we are more open to the world.  It is our vulnerability that connects us to everything and everyone around us.

Daniel's sister Michelle exudes a sweetness that can be felt across the room.  She spoke a few words as well and said that she finds herself amazed at the beauty she sees that comes from humanity, which made me start to cry.

Dusk had turned the sky into the richest blue, and while waiting for the doors to open, we lined up quietly among the people paying tribute.  I wore all black to mourn the loss, I dressed my daughter in bright colors to celebrate rebirth into a better place.

We listened reverently to the sounds of the string quartet as the music of Bach carried up toward the glass ceiling.  We looked up at at icons of history, especially those honoring Jewish tradition.  The mosaic images of the four archangels leaned down over us, watching over human history as generations come and depart, as we try to leave the world a better place than how we found it.  

The Daniel Pearl Foundation promotes mutual respect and understanding 
among diverse cultures through journalism, music and dialogue.  

(c) 2014 writing and photography by Chloe Koffas 

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