Stephen Horenstein
Music, Arts and Society

A Seismic Shift

"Miracle Rays" (photo by the author)
"A Seismic Shift 1" (Photo by Stephen Horenstein)

Today at noon, East Coast US time, there will be a shift of momentous impact.

I arise radiating with energy and hope. Last night I received my second Corona vaccine and am thereby “kosher”.  While I am suffering from a sore arm, I am still surprised to see the sun occasionally shining on this otherwise stormy day. Yes, amidst the dark plague there is renewed hope.

The newly-elected and appointed American leaders and their combined intelligences and humanistic outlook (President Biden, Vice President Harris, and the new cabinet members) will hopefully pave a new rational, thought-out and meticulous path. We can only hope and pray that here in Israel our population will follow America’s example and instead of spewing out endless excuses for elections, will finally elect a government that is sane, thoughtful, and humanistic.

Like many others of my golden age I spend most hours confined to home, relishing the movement of the graceful trees outside my kitchen movement. I try not to get bogged down in endless Netflix viewings which zap my spirit.  I haven’t composed or written in weeks, though I have succeeded in recording my musical ideas translated to the soprano saxophone.  The times have left their toll on me.

Tonight I shall watch President Biden’s inauguration while marveling at his worldly caring for others. The fact that Biden honoured 400,000 American souls who passed away during the pandemic is a tribute to his sensitivity, religiosity and caring.

There is, however, one huge task remaining.  I do not agree that “healing our country’s wounds” (Biden’s words) will be possible unless the truth of the last four years is revealed. Hopefully those truths will also have consequences and that those who are guilty will be duly punished. The defiling of the Senate and House chambers will go down in history as the shocking litmus paper test of America’s deep-seated rot, stemming from a neo-Fascist mentality.  Such elements must be exposed, fully and completely.  Hopefully authorities will have the tenacity to reveal the truth.

Through the bonds of closure our days of solitude continue with fewer smiles and embraces with old friends and family who are scattered throughout the country. Our own population is suffering from lack of direction, clarity and vision. I urge that the truth also be revealed here in Israel. Hence,  I ask the following questions:

1) Is our current Prime Minister guilty of crimes (small, medium or large)?

2) Why are infections rapidly spreading?

3) How much are defiant closure (”seger”) non-believers spreading the illness and why aren’t the new “rules” equally applied?

4) Why in the name of religious observance are many people still tacitly allowed to pray and learn in close-cramped groups?

5) What was the actual cost of the last series of elections and how could that money have been spent more wisely, given our humanitarian crisis?

6) In the midst of huge election and pandemic costs, how could have our current Israeli President been more forceful in finding a solution?

7) Why is there so much screaming in televised Knesset broadcasts and the nightly news?

8) How is all the above impacting on the young generation who are being taught that “might is right” and the louder one screams the more one “gets”?

So on this solemn day we look the United States for leadership and inspiration, as well as to some of our own wise leaders who are not driven by selfish gain or power. Until the truth on both sides of the Atlantic is revealed we will be hard-pressed to heal our wounds, both as Israelis and Americans (who some of us are).

Outside the winds have started to churn and the graceful trees are screaming from their encounter with strong winds and pelting rain. They bend in Aikido fashion, allowing the aggressive gestures dispel themselves. One can only hope that gentler and wiser times are ahead of us. We deserve to experience these times while we live and not only read about them later in history books as missed opportunities.

Seismic Shift 3 (Photo by Stephen Horenstein)
About the Author
Stephen Horenstein is a composer, researcher and educator. His repertoire of musical works has been performed and recorded worldwide. He has been a recipient of the Israel Prime Minister's Prize for Composers and the National Endowment of the Arts (USA) and recently a Mifhal HaPais prize to produce a new album “Sounds of Siday: Side B” (orchestra).. Horenstein's teaching has included Bennington College, Brandeis University, Tel Aviv University, Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance; residencies at Stanford University, York University, California Institute of the Arts, and others. He is Founder and Director of the Jerusalem Institute of Contemporary Music, established in 1988 to bring the music of our time to a wider audience.
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