Thursday, February 25, 2021

Sold-out concert garners 24,000 Hours of community service pledges

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“When the ILC told me they planned to sell 6,000 tickets to this concert, I was skeptical,” Israeli media mogul Haim Saban said onstage at the Israeli Leadership Council’s “Do Something for Someone” community concert on Nov. 20. “I thought it was too tall an order.”

Turns out it wasn’t. The ILC succeeded in selling out the Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal CityWalk for a concert that headlined Israeli pop star Moshe Peretz and Chasidic reggae singer Matisyahu, and launched the ILC’s newest project, I.L.Care, which aims to get Israelis and Israeli-Americans living in Los Angeles to volunteer regularly.

“I tip my hat to you, ILC,” said Saban, a major donor of the ILC and one of the concert’s main sponsors. “Am Israeli chai!”

Throngs of young Israelis dressed in club attire socialized in the theater’s aisles, and neither the rain nor a ticket fiasco — people waited in long lines to claim tickets that had been misplaced — put a damper on the crowd’s ebullient mood.

It took a couple of hours for the audience to finally settle into their seats, but once there, they sang along enthusiastically to Matisyahu’s “One Day,” lit up the theater with cell phone screens, and roared wildly when Moshe Peretz came on stage — staying on their feet for the duration of his performance. At some point, the ushers gave up trying to keep Israelis from dancing in the aisles and screaming young fans from rushing the stage.

“This is better than Caesarea!” Peretz said from the stage, referring to Israel’s most prestigious concert venue. At the end of his spirited set of popular Israeli hits, Peretz brought Matisyahu back onstage for a rare mash-up of Mizrahi and reggae music that was both spiritual and hip.

Tickets for the event were heavily subsidized — the actual cost of $90 was reduced to $18 or less, as two-for-one specials and other deals were promoted — with the caveat that each ticketholder had to commit to four hours of community service in exchange for the discounted price.

Getting Israelis to promise volunteer hours was a challenge in itself, but the ILC also faced the fact that even the biggest names in Israeli music have traditionally had a hard time filling big venues here. By most accounts, the Gibson is the largest venue at which an Israeli star has performed in recent history.

With help from more than 100 community organizations, the ILC filled the 6,000 seats and secured pledges for 24,000 hours of service, although it remains to be seen whether all the ticketholders will follow through on their commitment.

The message to the concertgoers, reiterated by speakers Saban and ILC board member and I.L.Care chair Shawn Evenhaim, as well as Israeli Consul General David Siegel, was clear: Do something for someone — it’s good for you; it’s good for the community; it’s good for Israel.

As the audience streamed out of the theater, Evenhaim breathed a huge sigh of relief.

“This was a historical night. The Israeli and Jewish communities came together tonight and committed to making a difference in the world.”

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