March 28, 2020

Love for Music and Israel Come Together Under the Stars

The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl Photo by Justin Pressman

How do you bring together young Jews who care deeply about Israel and who also love music and the arts? By bringing them to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl.

That’s exactly what the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Young Patron’s Circle and JNFuture did. In their first collaboration, the organizations brought together some 40 young Jewish professionals on July 18 for a pre-concert potluck picnic at Highland Camrose Park, followed by a performance featuring pianist Khatia Buniatishvili, conductor Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. 

The collaboration was conceived by Monica Edelman, associate director of JNFuture, and Justin Pressman, West Coast associate director of American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO). “I met with Justin and we stumbled upon the idea of how the mission of JNF (the Jewish National Fund) — while we are not an organization dedicated to music or the arts — [does] have initiatives that bring music and arts into our work, so we thought that could be a place of convergence,” Edelman said.

The goal, Edelman added, “is a little bit of cross-pollination. I have people in JNFuture who are interested in arts and music, so it allows them the opportunity to mingle with other people who … also care deeply about Israel, and vice versa.”

JNFuture is a community of young philanthropists ages 22-40 who share a
love of Israel and a passion for Jewish National Fund’s mission to invest in the land and people of Israel. The American Friends of the IPO maintains an unwavering commitment to supporting the orchestra in its concert performances throughout Israel and on international tours as Israel’s primary cultural ambassador. It also helps sustain the orchestra’s expansive music education programs for participants of all ages and backgrounds.

“Whether one’s at the JNF amphitheater in Beersheba or at the Hollywood Bowl, music has the unique spiritual power to touch listeners’ hearts and minds, bringing diverse audiences together for transformative musical experiences.” — Justin Pressman

The evening’s featured speaker at the picnic was JNFuture’s Civia Caroline, who is the organization’s representative on the JNF’s National Women for Israel executive board and recently launched JNF’s Arts & Entertainment Task Force, She spoke about several of JNF’s initiatives to bring music, arts and entertainment to Israel’s periphery communities in the country’s north and south.

“The building of the Beersheba amphitheater, which is the largest outdoor one in Israel, is one of JNF’s biggest projects to date,” she said. “From music to theater to dance, the amphitheater is at the heart of all things cultural in Beersheba, much like the Hollywood Bowl is to Los Angeles.” 

She also spoke about how the task force is providing “the basic needs for the hearts and souls of the people of these communities through context like the amphitheater, our music education program in Sderot on the border with Gaza and through many other exciting projects we are in the process of evaluating.”

Among the attendees was American Friends of IPO member Michael Levitan. “This is a wonderful event and a great intersection between music and arts here in America and its connection to support the arts in Israel,” Levitan told the Journal. “It is truly a small world. There is very good synergy between the two groups and it’s always great to meet people who support and enjoy the same types of music and activities.” 

JNFuture member Sam Heller concurred. “I think this is a great opportunity. Israel has a very rich arts tradition. Even though it’s a small country, they have a phenomenal orchestra and wonderful contemporary dance companies, so this is just a great way to celebrate music, which brings everyone together.”

Pressman also spoke to attendees about the American Friends of the IPO and how the organization supports the IPO’s international tours, music education programs and concerts in Israel. 

“The State of Israel, like classical music, is complex,” he said. “It’s layered and it’s beautiful. Whether one’s at the JNF amphitheater in Beersheba or at the Hollywood Bowl or in the Charles Bronfman [Auditorium] in Tel Aviv, music has the unique spiritual power to touch listeners’ hearts and minds, bringing diverse audiences together for transformative musical experiences.”

And with those fitting words, the group made its way to the Hollywood Bowl to enjoy a magical evening of music under the stars, which along with Buniatishvili’s performance included works by Tchaikovsky and film scores from Hollywood’s golden age — primarily composed by Jewish émigrés who came from Europe to Los Angeles in the