On November 16th, music, dance and art will come together in a very special way to benefit victims of human trafficking in Israel, through the Jerusalem Institute of Justice. Jazz musician and singer/songwriter Julie Lavender will be performing songs from her latest cd, The Siddur Project, which combines prayers from the ancient Jewish book with her fresh and spirited music. She will be joined in performance by an array of other accomplished and talented musicians from the East Coast. There will also be interpretive dancing, a display of paintings created by Julie for her project, and a silent auction. The event is sponsored by and will be held at Congregation Ruach Israel, 754 Greendale Ave., Needham, MA.
Julie sat down to talk about how the event came to be and the process of putting it together:
“Rabbi Nichol (of Ruach Israel) and I connected musically and he took an interest in my work. I brought him a copy of The Siddur Project, and he said ‘Wow, you should do a concert at Ruach sometime.’ When it was all done and launched, I said to him, ‘Could you help me get this out to the larger community of Messianic rabbis?’ So we sent them out as gifts for the high holy days. We began talking about doing a benefit concert after that. Honestly, I think we realized that in order to make this a full blessing it needs to be bigger that just us. Then we started to think about what that was going to look like. I sort of reached into my pool of musicians who had either played on the cd or whom I wanted to work with and started getting them booked. I also asked the dancers at Ruach to be involved. Then there was incorporating the visual art into it. It’s been cool finding people, within the congregation especially, to contribute in ways that suit each of their individual talents and gifts.”
She also elaborated on how much of an issue human trafficking is in Israel and how the proceeds can help:
“Over the last year, the human trafficking situation has been coming up more frequently and I’ve been learning about it more locally as well. So our first thought was ‘Is there a Jewish organization that’s addressing human trafficking, and how do we support an organization that is reaching into that issue?’ I did some research and also began to reach out to others who might have an interest in it. That ultimately led us to the Jerusalem Institute of Justice.
“This organization is not limited to or just about helping individual victims, but the greater legal aspects of human trafficking and how to prevent it. One of their priorities is to pass laws to prohibit members of the government from visiting brothels. Proceeds from the event will go towards efforts like these and Project NOA – Not Objects Anymore, which is currently providing legal representation case-by-case, lobbying for justice legislation, and helping to improve education.
Here are some facts and statistics to think about:
-Prostitution is NOT illegal, and government officials are not prohibited from participating.
-There are more than one million visits to brothels in Israel per month.
– Victims of human trafficking in Israel are forced to work between 14-18 hours per day, 7 days a week and receive on average 17-25 clients per day.
– In recent years the government has cracked down on human trafficking into Israel. As a result, this industry has been replaced by internal trafficking of both Palestinian and Israeli women.
– It is estimated that 15,000 children, women, and men work in the Israeli sex industry.
Julie concludes with “It’s going to be a really great event. This is something that, no matter where you are politically or spiritually, you can get behind it and say ‘This needs to stop!’ ”
Tickets cost $15 and can be purchased at: www.mycommunitytickets.com. For further information, please contact Congregation Ruach Israel’s office at: 781-449-6264.
To learn more about the Jerusalem Institute of Justice and Project NOA, visit www.jij.org.il/advocacy_sub.php?id=8.
To learn more about The Siddur Project, visit www.siddurproject.com