Tuesday, November 23, 2010

final Rome posting

Dear friends,

Please excuse me for taking so long to write about the final days of my journey to Rome. It's been a whirlwind!

For most of the day on Tuesday, we practiced. Part of our practice was at the Michelangelo Hotel, which is where most of the cantors were staying during our trip. We had a quick lunch and then continued our rehearsal at the Basilica. Here is a link to the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri: http://www.santamariadegliangeliroma.it/index.htm?lingua=INGLESE&cambialingua=SI The basilica sits on the site of the Diocletian Baths which were the largest of the Roman public baths. You can learn more about the Baths of Diocletian here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baths_of_Diocletian

The sound inside of the Basilica was tremendously beautiful. We worked hard for most of the day and took a short break, after which we came back to the Basilica and presented the concert. I was whisked away during part of the rehearsal for an interview as well. We were escorted to Rome by a film crew. The crew is filming a documentary called "To God's Ears". I spent most of my interview time talking about why interfaith work is so dear to me. I often hear the cry that children of intermarried couples will not remain Jews. As a child of a Jew and a Catholic, I like to say that I'm living proof that it ain't necessarily so. I feel that it's out duty to reach out to interfaith couples and provide them with a welcoming home.

The concert was truly beautiful. There aren't words to describe the feeling of joy and triumph as our voices echoed through the Basilica. Knowing that we were sharing the beauty of our musical and liturgical traditions with Catholics in their place of worship was a moment I will never forget.

As many of you know by now, Pope Benedict did not attend the concert. Unfortunately, our main contact to the Vatican, Cardinal Keeler, fell ill right before our trip and was unable to accompany us. However, this did not detract from the meaning of the concert. We had in the audience other cardinals and the American ambassador to the Vatican. Also, my favorite moment was realizing that Anthony, the student who we had spoken with the previous day, had come to the concert.

The next day, our group attended an audience with Pope Benedict. Some of us were given VIP seating and I was one of the chosen. From all reports, the two sections of seating were equally exciting, with different views. The whole experience had the feeling of a rock concert, with crowds of people, some standing on their chairs, yelling with joy. After this experience, we went on to a wonderful tour of the Vatican Museums.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I can say that I am so grateful to have been a part of this experience. Thank you all for helping me make this trip!

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