Julia Gillard makes a surprise appearance

April 13, 2014 by Henry Benjamin
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The iconic Jerusalem Theatre was the venue for Keren Malki’s third Rainbow of Music annual concert. Tickets had already been completely sold out by the previous week…but for the more than 450 people in the audience, a highlight of the performance was the opening speech delivered by surprise visitor, former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard.

In his brief welcoming speech, Keren Malki’s honorary chairperson, Arnold Roth, introduced Julia Gillard as “a courageous public figure who speaks out for what she believes to be right”. Ms Gillard, who had arrived on a personal visit to Israel just a few hours before the curtain rose, spoke warmly in appreciation of what she called the important work of Keren Malki. Keren Malki. founder by Arnold and Frimet Roth, honours the memory of the Roths’ daughter Malki, killed in the 2001 terrorist attack on the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem. The family  had made Aliyah from Melbourne.

The Rainbow of Music concerts have already established a popular tradition of featuring a changing mix of solo performers from a range of genres, backed by the massed voices of Jerusalem’s highly-regarded Ramatayim Mens Choir under the baton of its founder and conductor, South Africa-born Richard Shavei Tzion.

This year’s line-up featured three unique Israeli talents. Eleven year-old Ilay Avidani, a charming singer with huge stage presence wowed the audience with his renditions of traditional Israeli classics.  The other two soloists were Zvi Weiss, one of Israel’s younger generation of powerful cantorial performers, and the charismatic Guy Mannheim, a talented tenor with the Israeli Opera who has thrilled audiences in each of the three Keren Malki concerts. The three-member David Ichilewitz Band provided lively orchestral backing.

The show’s closing number, as in previous years, was V’hi Sh’amda L’avoteinu, a soaring modern classic based on a key text from the Passover Haggada that brought all three soloists onto the stage together with the Choir.

Eight lucky people went home with the with one of the raffle prizes, which included a day at the Ramat Rachel Spa, a gourmet hamper of quality wines and chocolates, meals at local restaurants and Judaic Art by Dorit Klein.

By all measures the evening was an enormous success, including the funds raised and the increased awareness of Keren Malki’s good work. 

Major sponsors of this year’s Rainbow of Music evening were the Pratt Foundation and Mizrahi-Tefahot Bank.

Ramatayim Men's Choir Director Richard Shavei Tzion, Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard,  Keren Malki Chairman Arnold Roth

Ramatayim Men’s Choir Director Richard Shavei Tzion, Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard,
Keren Malki Chairman Arnold Roth

Arnold Roth told J-Wire: “Julia Gillard’s political career took place after my family and I made aliyah. My familiarity with it, such as it was, come entirely through media articles. I was aware of the generally positive views that emanated from the leaders of the Australian Jewish community with whom I remain in touch. But my first meaningful conversation with her was actually on the evening of the concert.

Perhaps many Australians already know this, but Julia (which is the name she asked us to use) is approachable and warm in ways that I think are rare for a politician of her achievements and rank. And though she spoke without notes, her comments were relevant, interesting and expressed with humour and insight.
For many in the audience, her rather broad Australian accent made them somewhat unprepared for the insight and enthusiasm of the support she expressed. She has a genuine interest in the needs of people who are challenged by disabilities, and distinct views about what governments can do to help, and this was reflected in her deciding to honour the event with her presence.
Julia made many friends during her appearance, among the former Australians attending the show as well as among the majority who had no Australian connection. The fine organizing team from Keren Malki’s Jerusalem office felt, and I certainly share their view, that her participation was the icing on the cake.”


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