By Michael Sudhalter
Beth-El Congregation in Fort Worth is partnering with the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County and the Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth to host a fundraiser for the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, Israel.
“This concert is happening because of the generosity and time of a lot of people,” Beth-El Rabbi Brian Zimmerman said. “The Galilee Medical Center’s mission is to bring healing and health to that whole region and all of its inhabitants. That institution does incredible work in providing for the physical and emotional needs of so many of the residents, regardless of their faith or race.”
The concert will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17, at Beth-El, 4900 Briarhaven Road in Fort Worth. The suggested donation is $50; an RSVP is required. To donate or RSVP, visit bethelfw.org.
Federation Executive Director Barry Abels said the goal is to raise at least $20,000; every cent raised will go directly toward the Galilee Medical Center, which serves a half-million people in the Western Galilee region of Israel.
Abels said the Federation plans to promote the event beyond Fort Worth, both within and outside of the Jewish community.
Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth Artistic Director Gary Levinson, a Juilliard-trained violinist and one of the most exceptional chamber musicians in Dallas-Fort Worth, played a key role in bringing the concert to Fort Worth.
Previously, Levinson worked with Jewish community leaders in Florida and Nebraska to host similar fundraisers for the Galilee Medical Center. He would like to see more communities host fundraisers for the hospital.
Levinson and his wife, concert pianist Baya Kakouberi, will perform at the concert, along with other accomplished chamber musicians.
Tarrant County/Western Galilee connection
The Tarrant County Federation is one of 18 Federations in the world (and one of three in Texas) to be part of the Western Galilee Consortium.
Seventeen Jewish communities in the United States, plus Budapest, Hungary, connect with cities in Israel’s Western Galilee Region.
“The Western Galilee Consortium provides cultural and educational programs,” Abels said. “They match schools with schools, music students with music students and doctors with doctors. They collaborate and study with physicians from Israel. It’s a strong partnership.”
It was through this consortium that Levinson visited the Galilee Medical Center in 2018 and 2019.
“It was an incredible trip with a great exchange of ideas and music,” Levinson said. “Everywhere we went, we connected with people. We have stayed in touch with the very people who brought us there.”
The Galilee Medical Center is so close to the Lebanese border that one can see the border from the hospital.
While the majority of media coverage since Oct. 7 has focused on southern Israel and the ensuing fighting in Gaza, northern Israel — including the Galilee Medical Center itself — has been damaged by rocket attacks from Lebanon.
“The (citizens of Nahariya) receive about 12 to 40 seconds of notice before a rocket attack,” Levinson said.
If the Israel Defense Forces are defending the northern border and an enemy combatant is wounded, an ambulance from the Galilee Medical Center will pick them up to be treated at the northern Israel hospital.
“This is historically what Israel has always done,” Abels said.
When visiting the hospital, Levinson was thoroughly impressed that the “entire facility is designed to withstand an attack.”
“They have a hospital below the hospital — they have their own water supply and their own air supply,” Levinson said.
The hospital’s diverse staff includes Jews, Christians, Muslims and Druze. Dr. Masad Barhoum, the hospital’s general director since 2007, is an Arab Israeli.
“The northern Galilee really holds the key, if there’s any hope for Israel to be a safe place for people to coexist,” Zimmerman said.
In 2013, the Galilee Medical Center treated more than 1,600 victims of the Syrian civil war, according to Haaretz.
“This hospital has the best (staff) on earth and anything we can do to help, we should do,” Levinson said. “I’m passionate about this as a musician and a human being. We are trying to help a facility that saves everyone’s lives. If you need medical attention, they will provide it.”