Christian composer launches Hineni CD in Jerusalem
July 3, 2012 | Atara Beck - Israel Correspondent
JERUSALEM – Celebrated Canadian musician Ruth Fazal – composer of Oratorio Terezin, a hauntingly beautiful composition based on poetry written by children in the Terezin concentration camp – will be launching her 26th CD this month in Jerusalem, where she has been living since September.
Titled Hineni – Hebrew for Here I Am – the new CD consists of spiritual pieces that she wrote in Hebrew since arriving here. She sings the melodies as well as playing guitar, keyboard and violin.
Learning new languages was never her forte, yet her grasp of Hebrew over the past year has been impressive. She began studying in Toronto a couple of years ago and credits her “most amazing teacher” for her success.
“There’s something very special about singing in the holy tongue,” she said.
“The way I named the CD really sums it up. When I came, I wasn’t planning on making a CD. It just happened.”
Fazal performed the Oratorio for the first time in Toronto in November 2003 during Holocaust Education Week at the Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts. The following March, she introduced it in Europe, and in 2005 at the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv on Yom Hashoah; the city made it the main cultural event for the occasion.
A deeply religious Christian, she “fell in love with the people of Israel during the process of writing the Oratorio. More recently, it’s Eretz Yisrael – the Land of Israel – that I love. I knew I had to come to Israel. Sometimes I pinch myself and ask what I’m doing here. It’s like the end of the journey of writing that piece. It’s like the nation of Israel has been inserted into my heart.
“G-d is totally central to my life,” she stated. “Through the Oratorio CD – and working with portions of the Bible – Psalms, Jeremiah, Isaiah, [which is] all about human suffering and finding G-d – I was constantly meeting survivors, especially from Terezin. These people started to become a huge part of my life. I don’t know how long I’ll be here or what the future brings. I thought I’d stay just for a year to study Hebrew and play violin for survivors. But now I’m staying for at least another year. I love it here. If it were possible, I’d move here in a flash. I just feel like this is where I belong.”
Referring to the biblical Ruth, the revered convert to Judaism who, after the death of her husband, followed her mother-in-law Naomi to the land of Israel, Fazal said: “I sometimes think about how my parents named me Ruth. Through the Oratorio and meeting the survivors, who lost so much, I feel like I’ve met Naomi, and I’ve been clinging to her ever since.”