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Columbia Spectator Staff

An estimated 1,200 to 1,400 people clapped along to the Middle Eastern beat of the multi-platinum Israeli band, the Idan Raichel Project, and Palestinian-Tunisian artist Anath at the Music Beyond Borders Pakistan Earthquake Benefit Concert Tuesday night.

Co-sponsored by Amen, Columbia's new interfaith group, the concert raised an estimated $5,000 to $10,000, according to its president, Edoe Cohen GS/JTS '07.

"It's a mob scene in here," a female audience member said on her cell phone, describing the packed Synod Hall auditorium on 110th and Amsterdam.

Anath began the concert with her eclectic instruments and Middle Eastern rhythm, the red spotlight highlighting her hypnotic body rolls and belly dancing.

Before the Idan Raichel Project took the stage, Boaz Nol, an MIA student in SIPA and member of Amen, addressed the audience.

"We're here to discover what's common between us-from Palestine to Israel to Morocco to Ethiopa to Sudan to Syria ... There are no borders tonight. We must be united, people to people," he said.

The consul general of Pakistan in New York City, Muhammad Haroon Shaukat, also in attendance, echoed Nol's sentiments. "I'm very touched. Today, in this terrible tragedy, with more than 70,000 dead and 3.3 million homeless, you are saving lives, saving humanity-each penny worth millions," he said.

The Idan Raichel Project is a multi-ethnic fusion of Israeli, Ethiopian, and Sudanese singers harmonize in Hebrew, Arabic, Amharit, and French, among other languages.

A message of peace was blended into traditional Hebrew blessings, scatting, David's hymns, and love ballads.

Fareeda Ahmed, BC '06 and president of the Organization of Pakistani Students, which co-sponsored the event, was very pleased with the concert.

"We've been working with as many groups as possible to raise money [for the Pakistani earthquake]," she said. "People didn't necessarily understand the songs, but that didn't stop them from dancing on the chairs and clapping with everyone else. I was whooping!"

The OPS is hoping to prevent the second wave of deaths in Pakistan due to lack of shelter and medical aid. According to Ahmed, they've helped to raise $4,000 for the relief effort so far.

After the concert, Idan Raichel said that they came to perform in Morningside Heights because, "We believe that our music presents the real Israeli melting pot of 2005-the music of the street, the new society of Israel." He added that "even though Israel and Pakistan have no political relationship, it's all about the people. There's a side effect to music-to make people come together."

Cohen, president of Amen, told Spectator that the event used music to "lay aside politics for a second, focus on the culture, the people. Idan Raichel symbolizes this in his own musical ensemble, having on the same stage a Jewish, Ethiopian performer and a performer of Palestinian-Tunisian descent."

"I loved it. I'm a big believer in interfaith dialogue," Hillel Rabbi David Almog said. He also said he believed that this concert happening "on the grounds of a church is very symbolic."

Becky Auster, BC '06, came to see Idan Raichel because "I love his music. He's a real icon in Israeli culture and brings together Israeli people and Jews alike."

Yasmin Ravid, a visitor from Israel, said that the music "speaks to everyone," even though the languages might not have been understood by all.

"I thought it was beautiful," said Alex Halpera, Yeshiva University '08. "An immense amount of energy was moving back and forth between the performers and the audience."

Tuesday's event was also co-sponsored by Bechol Lashon, Columbia/Barnard Hillel, Turath (Arab Student Organization), UJA Federation, Auburn Seminary, Barnard Student Council, GS Student Council, and USD Hagshama.

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