All The Walls

Photograph by Sora Jederan-Shpack during the Ramat Rachel Archaeology Excavation

All The Walls

All The Walls was composed after meeting Shimon Perez in Israel in 2009. He answered my question with the words, "All the wall are only mistakes, peace is the only hope."
"Congratulations for your music, All the Walls, we do love it! We wish it will be performed many more times – even some day with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra in Tel Aviv..." The Ramat Rachel Archaeological Project
Lyricist: Music and Text by Sora Jederan-Shpack


Sun rises.
Shadows blanket Bethlehem.
Glistening rays awaken Jerusalem
Ancient King Josiah walks pensively the gardens of his palace.
Gazing over the valley below, Josiah ponders the plight of his people.
Jedidah, Josiah’s mother, calls: Josiah, my son, listen:
Women drummers
Words of wonder
Words of warning

Josiah declares: To our north Assyria strangles us with her relentless occupation
To our south Egypt’s pharaoh readies his armies to reclaim our lands as theirs
In the name of our One G-d
I will assemble a righteous army
Break down the altars of the lesser G-ds
Kill the pagan priests and priestesses
Defend our lands

Walls of War
Walls of Terror
Walls of Mistrust

1945 Charter of the United Nations
...Words Shattered by Walls
All nations in conflict
Shall first of all seek to negotiate
…Hopes Shattered by Walls
All nations in conflict
Shall refrain from the threat or use of force…
…Possibilities…Shattered…By Walls

A child…in pain…cries
A woman…is raped
A man…is tortured
Families, friends – murdered

Children question:
Why are these people shooting at us?
Mothers wail.
…A woman sings: I am holding you…
Fathers disappear
…A man sings: Holding you, ever so gently…
All cry out to their G-d – deliver us!
…Together, we are holding you, ever so tenderly…

Women drum
Josiah proclaims:
We have slaughtered all the priests and priestesses.
Jedidah implores:
Josiah, What have become of the women drummers?

Military drummers
March to war
A general enters
A soldier surveys the battlefield
We are all warriors
Defending those whom and that which we hold dear
Our journey – a rite of passage
Warriors return home.

All rise!
Celebrate our soldiers with songs of praise!
Salute our Troops
Stand proud
For the brave men and women
Who give their lives for us all
Enduring hardships unknown
Of sand, of heat, of grit
Of enemy bombs and guns
And deceased comrades
Honor our men and women
Our outstanding fine troops

As in a dream, our minds search for sanity amidst insanity…
Kill or be killed!
Hidden fears, shame, humiliation surface,
Murder!.....or be murdered!
Atrocities accost the soul.
Souls separate, bodies become numb.
The soul cries to be reclaimed!

Hulda, ancient prophetess, demands: Drop your swords!
We relinquish our weapons of war...
Walls collapse.
Jedidah pleads: Listen to the voices of the people!
We engage in conflict resolution…
Walls collapse.
A Nobel Peace Laureate states:
Walls utterly collapse.

A myriad of possibilities
For peace and prosperity
Flood our minds
Soul and body unite
Ancient and contemporary
Religions, races, ethnicities…
Support one another,
Provide for one another,
…live, learn, work as one people of many peoples…

Peace is the only hope.


Composer's Note:
The Story behind All The Walls
Sora Jederan-Shpack

On my last day of volunteer work at Ramat Rachel we were visited by Israeli President, Shimon Peres, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Peres Center for Peace. After meeting with the directors of the excavation, President Peres came to the site and spoke with many of us. I told him I came to the excavation to gather information for an opera I am writing about the life of King Josiah, one of Israel’s greatest, yet lesser known kings, a man seeking freedom from Assyria’s northern occupation and concerned with Egypt’s growing power and possible occupation from the southwest. I further explained that the opera begins in the present time quoting the original United Nations Charter on Peace, stating that when nations are in conflict, they should first seek to negotiate. Then I asked him if he had a comment I could include in my opera. He nodded his head in agreement, thought for a moment and said, “All the walls are only mistakes; peace is the only hope.”

On Saturday our work on the site was complete and nearly all the archaeologists, historians, theologians and volunteers left Ramat Rachel for services in Jerusalem. I decided to stay for a last look at the site before leaving Israel on Sunday. As I stood overlooking Bethlehem, Jerusalem and the spectacular excavation of King Hezekiah’s and King Josiah’s palace, the music for the opening which I had been searching for came to mind. I jotted some melodic notes and harmonies and then sketched the structure and form using material I had already written into an orchestral version of portions of the opera, I even had a title, “All The Walls.”