|The two young musicians, The Israeli cellist Inbal Megiddo and The Palestinan pianist Saleem Aboud Ashkar|
|| Click to enlarge|
03 February 2003
The first clickable item on Pennsylvania rug dealer Jerry Sorkin's website is not his inventory but 'Special Events'. Follow this link and you discover just how special an event can be.
Thirty years in the business and passionate about rugs, Sorkin's business is in Lancaster Avenue, Wayne, PA. In January 2003 he celebrated his 50th birthday and decided to mark it not with a traditional party, but an invitation concert.
Since the late 1970s Sorkin has been involved in ways of trying to bring together Israelis and Palestinians/Jews and Arabs. When he heard that an Israeli cellist and a Palestinian pianist were considering coming to the US on tour, he helped to sponsor the visit, and then decided to invite his local community to a special celebratory concert given by the duo.
The two young musicians, The Israeli cellist Inbal Megiddo and The Palestinan pianist Saleem Aboud Ashkar, had met through the conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim, a passionate advocate of bridging the divide between Jews and Arabs. They had first played together in 2001 at Barenboim's West-East Divan workshop in Chicago, and again at the 2002 West-East Divan in Seville, Spain.
They were delighted with Sorkin's idea, and flyers were printed inviting the community to the concert in Wayne on 14 January, and afterwards to a reception back at the store.
Sorkin takes up the story: 'The response was overwhelming. Over 600 people came to the church, including Israelis, Palestinians, Lebanese, Tunisians, Algerians, Egyptians, Persians, Armenians. Following the press (television news and newspapers covered the event) I have received even more calls and e-mails from people I do not know. Everyone was touched by the event, no one more than I.'
One of the calls he received brought an invitation to another concert. He learned that Barenboim would be performing in Philadelphia in June, and asked Sorkin to attend as his guest.
He sums up: 'In these post 9/11 days of rising prejudice, coupled with the problems of the Middle East, I felt whatever rare examples of hope are out there should be recognised.'
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