The ghosts of Roman citizens had long since abandoned the crumbling marble amphitheater, yet it was now filled with intense life and excitement. My eyes were immediately drawn to the single tile, where 2,000 years ago the builders had focused the theater's acoustics. I walked to the stage and turned to face my sister. "Can you hear me?" I asked softly, testing the acoustics of the theater. I was distracted by a group of boys on a field trip from Amman who had come to Jerash to explore one of the Roman Empire's 10 capital cities. They relaxed with their schoolteachers, banging on their drums and singing loudly in Arabic. Each one vied with the others to be the loudest. As an Israeli female, I felt awkward among the raucous Jordanian boys. The theater began to speak to me. It quelled my awkwardness. The ark of its perfect design once again drew me toward the center, from which even a whisper can be heard.
The desire to sing was overwhelming. Tentatively, I began my favorite song, "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess. My voice carried lightly over the riotous noise around me. To my astonishment, the boys quieted and became my audience. I allowed my voice to crescendo and reverberate throughout the amphitheater. Excitement filled my body, and I smiled at my newfound audience. My song ended with the din of 50 pairs of children's hands clapping. Again, the Roman theater filled with sound as they answered my song with one of their own Arabic favorites. Despite the differences in our language and cultures, we had discovered a way to communicate. The power of music, crossing time and social barriers, brought us together.
Music defines who I am. I use my voice as a means of Tikun Olam (a Hebrew expression that means "repairing the world"). I was born a Sabra, a native-born Israeli. Though I left Israel when I was 5 years old, I continue to be involved in the Israeli-American community. I often ponder the fact that many of my friends will be entering the Israeli Army as I enter college. I believe in their ability to achieve peace, and I hope for their survival. Recently, I was asked to sing at a memorial service on Yom HaZikaron, the Remembrance Day for soldiers lost in Israel's defense. Through singing, I was able to comfort those who had lost loved ones. My ability to move an audience to tears or laughter is a significant part of my desire to perform.
Historically, song has been a means by which performers could influence political and social reform. My voice is a tool to build connections and inspire understanding among people. I sing to bring people together. I sing out the melodies in my heart. I sing for the joy that it brings me and to raise human consciousness. I sing to create a better world. I sing because I must.