By Nir Librach
Imagine a young Jew living in Chile who has two major loves in his life − music and Israel. If he could somehow combine the two, he would be the happiest of men. One day, this student reads something in a publication of the Chilean Jewish Agency about the Rimon Music School
, which has just partnered with Masa Israel. "Come and join us at the Rimon music experience in Israel!" it says, and the young man knows his life is about to change.
The young man is Jonathan Goldfrid. The 23-year-old's dream is to compose movie soundtracks. At the new Masa program in Rimon, Israel's largest independent contemporary music school, he isn't only fulfilling that dream, he is doing so in Israel − which means the world to him. "I am already planning to stay in Israel afterward," says Goldfrid. "In the two months since my arrival here, I've gotten used to living in Israel, I've gotten used to its people, and I've gone through a lot of amazing experiences."
Goldfrid shares a single-family home in Ramat Hasharon with other participants in the Rimon program. His roommates are from Norway, Brazil, Britain and Sweden. Together they are touring Israel, learning Hebrew and sharing everything aside from their studies − each of them studies a different field. They are unlikely to run into each other within the school, says Amikam Kimelman, its general academic director.
"In Rimon, all the musicians come with a different background," says Kimelman. "We have pianists, composers, singers and others. Everyone works according to his own talents, and together they're all part of the Rimon community."
Kimelman says the school is always on the lookout for talented foreign students, which means the cooperation with Masa gives it a great boost. "Working with Masa opens us a doorway to the world," says Kimelman. "I believe that in the next few years, the number of students coming here will increase significantly. The Jewish Agency advertises us, and the students who joined the program tell their friends about it, so our exposure among international students is expected to rise."
The Israel Experience, a subsidiary of the Jewish Agency, organizes the program and oversees the students throughout their 10- month stay in Israel. The Israel Experience seeks to strengthen Jewish identity among Jews, in part through bringing them to Israel. Tal Zmiri, who drafted the educational agenda for the Israel Experience program, says that while the core of the program is the music studies, the students go through much more.
"Prior to the beginning of the academic year, the participants spent a month at an ulpan, studying Hebrew," says Zmiri. "Afterward we took them on trips everywhere in Israel, and they spent time with other Masa participants. They also go through unique Jewish experiences, like Shabbat in Safed or building a sukkah together − experiences that help them grasp what it means to live a year in Israel, with all of its added value."
Zmiri says that the ultimate goal of this program is to strengthen the Jewish identity of the participants, to enhance their connection with the State of Israel and to develop their music skills, in Israel as well as abroad.
So far, participants' reactions indicate the program is on the way to its goals. As Jonathan Goldfrid put it, "I think this program gives many opportunities to guys from all over the world. Being a student at Rimon helps you feel like an Israeli ... everybody here is nice and professional, and I feel that at this place, you can create only things of beauty."
'Everybody here is nice and professional, and I feel that at this place, you can create only things of beauty.'