The Charles Bronfman Auditorium at Habima Square is one of the centerpieces of the Israeli arts and cultural scene, home to the Israel Philharmonic for the last 60 years. On Friday, May 19th, it was home to yet another historic event, with the dedication of the entrance hall to Miri Shitrit of blessed memory.
Miri Shitrit, daughter to veteran Israeli politician and former minister Meir Shitrit and his wife Ruth, passed away in 1987 after a long struggle with cancer. Her family and friends, through a charitable organization in Miri’s name, have used Miri’s inspiration to change countless lives of men, women and children around Israel, with a special focus on helping those afflicted with cancer. Some of these programs include audio-visual libraries for children in hospitals, trips to Disneyworld, meals and support for the needy, and even a much-needed, state of the art, hospital wing. Friday’s dedication ceremony was the latest step in this commitment to improving Israeli society in Miri’s merit.
The dedication began with a sumptuous reception, followed by a moving ceremony in the hall that will now be indelibly linked with Miri’s name. The ceremony opened with a song performed and sung by Miri’s brother, David Shitrit. Major General (Res.) Yoav Galant, the Minister of Construction, addressed the distinguished crowd, noting the importance of the venue as an artistic and cultural hub, and how its dedication would honor Miri’s memory.
Zubin Mehta, the Maestro of the Israeli Philharmonic, also spoke, discussing his own experience with the hall and its historical significance. His remarks included a message of international solidarity and tolerance, focusing on the ability of arts, and particularly music, to bridge divides.
Knesset Member Amir Peretz, a close friend of the Shitrit’s, gave a stirring speech in which he mentioned the warmth of the Shitrit family, and praised their initiative for turning the tragedy of their daughter’s loss into the impetus for helping those around them.
Meir and Ruth Shitrit thanked the many guests, friends and family, who had come to mark this momentous occasion and honor Miri’s memory. A video was played which celebrated Miri’s life, as well as highlighting the various initiatives that have been carried out in her name. Afterwards, David Shitrit performed a final song dedicated to his sister, bringing tears to much of the audience.
As befitted such an important occasion, the room was filled with many influential Israelis, politicians, artists and business leaders, along with friends and family of the Shitrits. Prominent guests included Mr. Ron Huldai, Mayor of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Knesset Member Mr. Isaac Herzog, Chairman of the Labor Party, Knesset Member Yaakov Peri and his wife Osnat, Evelyn and Pierre Basanino, David Efrati, Leon Recanati, and Berura and David Wisman.
Steven Aiello, founder of the Debate for Peace MUN program (debateforpeace.wordpress.com).
Photo Silvia G Golan