By Tania Shalom Michaelian
A modern-day interpretation of an ancient harvesting ritual is coming to Northern Israel to serve as a connection to the past and a balm to the soul.
The fully inclusive farm Emek HaShalom, or “Valley of Peace,” in Israel will soon institute an innovative new music program thanks to the generosity of Yorba Linda, CA’s Deby Goodman. The site, supported by Jewish National Fund-USA and operated by LOTEM – Making Israel Accessible, welcomes 40,000 visitors annually to take part in accessible sensory experiences.
Part of the experience of visiting the farm includes harvesting and threshing wheat in the winter and pressing grapes in the summer. Now, those activities will enjoy musical accompaniment as participants will express themselves through music and rhythm, using instruments such as drums, shakers, chopsticks, and wind instruments.
At the end of the workshop, the whole group will come together to create a special melody and then go out in a procession, singing and playing music like was done in biblical times, before ending the activity by baking bread with the wheat they threshed. The instruments will be locally sourced, further supporting the region’s artisan economy.
“We’ll provide the soundtrack to the experience,” said Goodman. “The farm workshops will be enriched with musical content and the instruments will add joy and dance to everyday activities—just like it was done 2,000 years ago.”
Goodman is part of Jewish National Fund-USA’s Disabilities Task Force, which supports initiatives that improve care, education, and access for the disabled across Israel, and her commitment to LOTEM has spanned many years.
Speaking about her decision to support the musical initiative at Emek HaShalom, Goodman said that the project perfectly combines her lifelong passions for music and Torah, and her personal experience supporting those with disabilities in her own family. Agriculture and gardening also play a huge part in her day-to-day life.
“It really was, hands-down, the ideal project for me,” she said.
Adding her comments was Gaylee Schif, the JNF-LOTEM Liaison, who lauded Goodman for enabling LOTEM to integrate music into its activities on a wider scale.
“Now we have the opportunity to focus on a continuous and complementary activity and to integrate between the music—the playing, the enjoyment, the production of the sounds, getting to know the tools made of natural materials and their creation—and our creative activity in the field of preparing the flour for baking,” she said.
Speaking of this initiative, Shlomit Jackson, Jewish National Fund-USA Director, Orange County explained that it is just the latest in a long legacy of making a difference in Israel. “Deby’s significant relationship with Jewish National Fund-USA’s partnership with LOTEM is a strong and passionate one that has made a great impact with her ongoing dedication,” she shared.
“Deby holds our Jewish homeland deep in her heart and her commitment to the land and people of Israel is priceless.” As Goodman continues to help create a harmonious experience for LOTEM visitors, this initiative is sure to make their hearts sing.