Handel’s ‘Messiah’ speaks today – and serves Syrian refugees

Musical director and conductor David Loden was impassioned as he spoke of the upcoming performance of Handel’s Messiah in Hebrew, a concert to benefit Syrian refugees, that will take place in Jerusalem on April 6.

“Each time it gets better! It never gets old, it is always fresh!” he told KNI. “It is like studying the Bible, there are always undiscovered or unseen treasures in it.”

Messiah, originally composed by George Frideric Handel in English, was first performed in Hebrew 10 years ago in Israel after local believers translated the classical text.

Loden explained that Israelis, hearing the ancient Bible stories straight from the original Hebrew texts, often for the first time, are amazed.

“We are constantly hearing what a revelation it is and that people did not realize what was said [in the Scripture],” he said.

Loden enthused that what makes Messiah so special is that it is the most complete presentation of the story of Yeshua, something Handel understood when he wrote it and received help from the Lord in doing so.

Loden performed the oratorio many times in English as a choral singer, soloist and conductor, but was amazed the first time he did so in Hebrew.

“It was as if it had been written in that language,” he said. “You adjust slightly, but that is not a problem.”

The original Hebrew translation was carried out by two of Loden’s colleagues and he added several of the choruses.

“By translating it into Hebrew, we take it out of the box of being an art object and make it a real tool of communication. We are speaking to a culture that has rejected the idea of the Messiah being Savior of the Jewish people and the world.”

All proceeds from the concert will go to Syrian refugees. Loden said that the Torah is not just about prayer, but requires righteous and compassionate acts.

“When we help the less fortunate we fulfill what the Torah teaches,” he said. He spoke of the Syrian refugees’ experiences as “hell on earth.”

Of the three performances of Messiah this year, two will be held for the benefit of Holocaust survivors with an expected 400 survivors in attendance in Tel Aviv and Or Akiva.

The Jerusalem performance is co-sponsored by Musalaha, a believing organization that has focused on reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis for for 25 years.

Hedva Haymov, Women’s Programs manager, explained that Musalaha seeks to influence society for good by enabling different groups to engage in the reconciliation process – something that works in stages. The concert contributes to that process, bringing together groups that might not otherwise come together. Arabs and Messianic Jews sell the tickets at the YMCA, a Christian organization that also offers the venue at a discounted rate. Loden represents Messianic Jews and the concert itself is open to people of all backgrounds.

Musalaha also partners with Bethlehem Bible College whose students go to Jordan three times a year to work one-to-one with Syrian refugees. In this way donors can be assured that their money will arrive safely, providing blankets and food.

“I am excited to see how supportive the community is and I hope to see many new faces we have not seen before,” said Haymov.

The concert, to be performed by Liturgi-Kal Choir and Tel Aviv Soloists Ensemble, is entitled Messiah Speaks Today, so I asked David what the Messiah wants to say today in Jerusalem.

“Open your hearts, open your mind and understanding, to see what the prophets have said and how their words have been partially fulfilled in Messiah – give Yeshua a fair hearing – listen to what the Lord is saying through the Messiah, through Scriptures that have been relegated to the realm of religion,” Loden said.