When the American Ambassador to Israel Drummed on the Darbuka
During Visit, Amb. Nides Sang with Youth at OU Center
Mr. Thomas Nides, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, made a special visit Thursday evening (Feb. 24) to the Orthodox Union’s downtown Jerusalem ‘Zula Hetzroni’ Youth Center for struggling girls and boys.
The Pearl and Harold Jacobs Zula Center is a drop-in facility located near Zion Square, in the center of Jerusalem, and is intended to be a warm home for disadvantaged youth, mainly from religious homes.
(During the hours leading up to the visit, concerns were raised that it would need to be postponed due to the onset of war between Russia and Ukraine, but embassy personnel who knew the importance of the visit worked to ensure the visit took place as planned.)
At the Zula Center, Amb. Nides was greeted by OU Israel Executive Director Rabbi Avi Berman, who explained how and when the Zula Center was established and has grown over the past 22 years into a Jerusalem institution with a high-quality and professional team doing wonders in the field. Also joining in the visit were Mr. Yehuda Neuberger (Vice Chair, OU Board of Directors), Mr. Stuart Hershkowitz (Board of Directors, OU Israel Center), and Nathan Diament (Executive Director, OU Advocacy Center in Washington, D.C.) who facilitated Amb. Nides’s visit.
The Zula Center’s staff was planned as a special surprise for the participants.
“What a cool ambassador” enthused one participant; “We have a fun photo with him when he sat with us to sing and play, I think if he wasn’t an ambassador he could have been a great drummer,” the youth said with a smile, noting that she already arranged for a “selfie” with the ambassador. One boy from central Jerusalem was even more enthusiastic: “This is not another guest, this is the ambassador of the United States who came to meet us, wow, that’s a heck of an honor.”
Ambassador Nides was impressed by the simplicity of the place and its ability to draw so many youth.
After a working meeting with the Rabbi Berman and other staff, Ambassador Nides sat down again to sing and drum energetically with the young men and woman, who dedicated to him the song, “We brought peace to you.”
Said Rabbi Berman: “We were honored with the visit of the United States Ambassador to Israel, Mr. Thomas Nides. He saw the place and was impressed by the deep connection of American Jewry with Israel and the blessed work being done there thanks to the assistance of American Jews. I would like to thank the ambassador because despite the busy period we are in, he made time for this special visit.”