OR Movement Sings, Brings the Spirit of Light
As the first notes of “When You Believe” wafted through the rapt Merkin Theater audience, dozens of singers sang in the aisles, their faces lit by candle glow, and the mood of the evening was set. The Gala Concert of the Or Movement presented a program of musical selections reflective of the organization’s work. Shai Baitel, its Director in America noted that the music and the program reflected the values of the Or Movement, a twenty first century approach to Zionism, focusing on Israel and Jewish values.
Beginning with an emotional rendition of “Bring Him Home,” dedicated to Gilad Shalit and the soldiers of America, headliner Dudu Fisher held the audience in the embrace of his voice. Fisher, widely known both as a cantor and a musical star, created the shomer Shabbat role Jean Valjean in Les Miserables. His program, highlighted cantorial, Broadway and contemporary musical landmarks.
A heartfelt presentation of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Memories” and a bright and enthusiastic presentation from the Israeli hit musical “David,” added to the variety of a program that ranged from the traditional to today.
Russell Robinson CEO of the Jewish National Fund, only a few hours after his return from Israel, spoke of the long term partnership of OR and JNF, saying it represented “what will be the future of Israel: green, leafy, colorful, and happy.” Israel’s Acting Consul General Ido Aharoni, cited information about the extent of the damage caused by the Carmel Forest Fire, noted that the damage was massive, and included the need to rebuild the electrical grid and replace hundreds of public and private structures. “We make miracles happen,” he assured. The challenge, said the Consul General, “is to tell the real story of what we stand for, of our outlook for the future…we need to communicate Israel to the world. Crisis management is not the way.” He stressed the “need to build self confidence and strengthen the collective effort to legitimize Israel.”
The Or Movement was founded in 2002 by Ofir Fisher and Roni Flamer, who recently received the Prime Minister’s Prize for Initiative and Innovation (November 18, at the Technion, Haifa). Russell Robinson, CEO of the Jewish National Fund called Flamer “one of the greatest visionary idealists.” “In a short amount of time we have begun to change the face of the Negev—with energy, determination, and an entrepreneurial spirit. …Thanks to Roni’s vision and dedication, our next generation is in good hands.”
To date over 25,000 families have moved to “periphery” areas, “a vital task” important to Israel’s long-term security and economic survival, “better demographic distribution, improved national security and a higher standard of living for Israelis.
Or has helped develop the Negev towns of Sansana (1999), Givot Bar, (2004), added to the population of Kibbutz Kramim near Beer Sheva. The Or Movement is dedicated to the development of modern communities in the Negev and Galilee, “Israel is no longer a country of exiles. Bringing people to the Negev is what tomorrow is about: our presence is a threat to our enemies. Saying that “this will be the break through decade to change the image of the Negev and the Galilee,” Shai Baitel, Or Director in America, reflected that the movement is about “excellence – investing in our people and taking Israel to the next level. Or’s purpose is to insure the future of the Negev and the Galilee. Like the Chanukah lights lit tonight, the lights of Or are taking us from darkness to the halo of light. Chanukah is the most suitable time: the night of the 8th candle is the most enlightened time of the year.”