Halfway around the world in Jerusalem, city of three faiths, similar houses of worship abound, many with historic value. But while Jerusalem hums a classical tune -- performance groups salted with the world-class players of many nationalities have resettled here -- the norm is to play in more traditional (read: less controversial) venues.
A case in point was the run-up to Friday's 10 concerts in 10 churches and historic sites, a day of chamber performances scheduled under the umbrella of a 10-day Israeli Opera Festival underway in Jerusalem and at Masada.
In March, a consortium of ultra-Orthodox citizenry and some religious deputy mayors elsewhere demanded that the city of Jerusalem withdraw its support for the chamber music event because of the potential violation of Halachic (ultra-Orthodox) rules, which discourage Jews from entering churches. Their contention: An individual has the right to choose to enter a church, but the Jerusalem municipality they pay taxes to should not be funding events in churches.
The rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Places subsequently met with the Jerusalem mayor. A six-week tug of war took place; when the dust settled in mid-May, the city agreed to withdraw its name as a festival sponsor. Since no civic money had been committed in the first place to support the festival, the practical result was that the city's seal was pulled off event advertising and the concerts would go on as planned.
A classic Israeli dispute -- one in which nothing much changed, but one in which each side declared victory. And on Friday, the shows went on.