I stood less than 5 feet at age 16 when I started college. There were women in my class and students from all walks of life. We were given a reading list for freshman Intro to Sociology and asked to select a book we would report on in class. I chose Will Herberg’s Protestant, Catholic, Jew. The only Catholics I knew were from a school down the block from my yeshiva who would get into physical altercations with us Jew boys. I doubt I even knew what being a Protestant meant prior to reading Herberg’s book. I remember little of my presentation except that I had the class and the teacher laughing hysterically. It was my first A in college. It was also my first time presenting to a “mixed audience.” I had grown up in a rather insular world.
Flash forward to this past Sunday, a foot taller and 40 years older for a meeting with the artists, Catrene Payan and Majid Kahhak, both who will be entertaining and teaching us at our second annual fundraiser on June 12th. Catrene, a Christian Arab from Israel, is the voice of Zuruna, a local Middle Eastern ensemble and Majid, a Muslim Arab from Morocco, is an artist residing in Carbondale who performs through live painting. These two artists share in common a friendship with the President of our Board of Trustees, Ilana Erez, an Israeli Jew. As the four of us met, both Ilana and I realized that growing up Jewish, her in Israel and me in New York; we did not have any relationships with Arabs. I want to thank her for bringing these wonderful, spiritually aware artists into my life.
The theme for our event this year, Creativity and Connection will focus on peace and resolution—Catrene not only weaves stories though her music, she is also the author of a book entitled: “Peace Through Healing: My Vision for a New Middle East.” Majid, who has spent many years in Sufi study and practice, seeks resolution around living in the moment—finding peace between structure and spontaneity, the accident and the intentional flow. Ilana has welcomed and woven them into her life, they now enter mine. You are invited to welcome them into your lives. Please join us at 1261 Gallery for a hip and unforgettable evening. Leave your shoes at the door; it will make it easier for your socks to be knocked off.