Hillels across the United States honored the memory of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl by sponsoring musical performances as part of the third annual Daniel Pearl Music Day. The concerts were among the 300 events held in more than 30 countries in October to promote tolerance, understanding and global harmony.
"Through journalism and music, Danny communicated friendship, understanding and respect for differences wherever his journeys took him. Whether he was interviewing ordinary people or world leaders, performing with orchestras, teaching violin to disadvantaged children, playing fiddle or mandolin with folk and bluegrass bands, or simply jamming and singing with friends and strangers, Danny recognized the power of music to bridge differences among people, and he used it to make friends and inspire understanding," Pearl's family wrote on the Daniel Pearl Foundation Web site.
Stanford University, Pearl's alma mater, has participated in the event each year, but this was the first year Stanford Hillel signed on as a co-sponsor. The concert, which featured faculty and student performances, drew a crowd of 800 people at Memorial Church, and Pearl's sister, Michelle, welcomed the audience on behalf of the family.
According to Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann, the event organizer, the concert has grown larger each year, and more faculty members have taken time out of their busy schedules to be a part of the evening.
"These are quite extraordinary musicians who are often touring around the country, but they all love to do it and they thank me for the opportunity to participate," she said.
At the College of William and Mary, Hillel and the Middle Eastern Cultural Association (MECA) partnered to present a five-hour music festival featuring the William and Mary Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, a local klezmer band, a hard-rock band and a student a cappella group.
Student organizer Lena Freund said she became involved with the event after meeting Pearl's father, Judea, earlier this year when he came to town with Islamic scholar Akbar Ahmed as part the Daniel Pearl Dialogue for Muslim-Jewish Understanding. Dr. Pearl encouraged her to participate in this year's event, which was an offer she couldn't refuse.
"We're mixing culture and music, which are two of my favorite things," she said.
Freund approached the president of MECA, who happened to be a good friend, and together they planned an evening that would represent both Jewish and Arab cultures. Though the night centered on the musical performances, she hoped that it helped the audience see the Middle East, and Israel in particular, as more than an area of conflict.
"People here tend to associate everything Israeli with the army, and I hope we caused them to think twice and balance their arguments a bit more," she said.
Other campuses participating in Daniel Pearl Music Day this year include the University of Delaware and the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.