Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

The Sobar-Hoping to be Jerusalem's first live music club for young adults

The city of Jerusalem, with its rich history and beauty is also, unfortunately a magnet for disaffected teens and young adults. They come from all over Israel as well as the rest of the world, looking for excitement, entertainment and of course, other youth.

Many Jewish parents from the wide world send their kids to Israel, hoping they will find some sort of life changing Jewish experience. Sometimes it does not work and the young people, at loose ends, often end up on their own in Jerusalem. As we well know, that can result in risky behavior even leading to drugs and other street trouble.

While there are drop-in centers where teens can get soft drinks, a meal and some interaction with local service personnel in downtown Jerusalem– these Centers do not offer entertainment venues. Most of them close when the sun goes down and the young people have had no positive place to “hang out” safe from negative influences where they can be inspired in a positive way.

Tracy Shipley, an experienced addiction counselor and Creative Arts Therapist, lives in Jerusalem and raised her three children there. She has personally seen the problems of at risk young people after dark in the City. This inspired her to solve the problem.

The concept is called “The Sobar”—a “sober bar”—that offers the opportunity for youth to play, create, listen to and learn music of all types while being treated to snacks, soft drinks and a warm atmosphere where they will feel at home. There will be no smoking, no alcohol, and obviously no drugs. Older bands will be recruited to play at the Sobar and to offer workshops to inspire the kids.

Over the past two years Tracy and her volunteers have been offering Open Mic nights for youth and her Sobar Band has performed for hundreds of Jerusalemites who had the opportunity to hear about the Sobar idea from the young band members. Now, in partnership with AMI-Neshima, a non-profit organization designed to foster vibrant pluralistic Jewish Identity through music and art, Tracy plans to open a permanent venue for The Sobar that will be open full time and serve this in-need population of young people in the Capitol City of Israel. The “AMI” in AMI-Neshima stands for Art, Music, Identity.

They have found the ideal location to open the permanent Sobar in downtown Jerusalem, far from the bar scene but with easy access. The building is in need of huge renovations, but the City of Jerusalem sees the potential of this venue and is eager for the project to succeed. The Municipality of Jerusalem has agreed to invest in renovations as well as totally equipping the facility to handle a large population for music and other types of entertainment geared toward a positive experience for young Jewish people, however there is one condition. Their funds must be matched by other donors.

The City’s plan calls for The Sobar Project and AMI-Neshima to raise eighty thousand dollars (USD) and the City will match the amount raised. Tracy Shipley has recently completed a whirlwind visit to the U.S. engaging musicians, artists and related philanthropies in the fund raising effort. “We are hoping to make a permanent home for The Sobar a reality within the next year,” states Shipley. “But we need grassroots support as well as that of well-known musicians, artists and philanthropic organizations to join us in this worthwhile effort to help Jewish kids in our Holiest City to be inspired by music and positive enrichment keeping them out of harms way. For information or if you are interested, contact Tracy at: sobarjerusalem@artists.org.il or call her at 972-54-810/8918. You can see her activities of the past two years on their fb page sobarjerusalem. You can also make direct donations earmarked for the Sobar at Neshima-AMI. Contact Yishai Ashkenazi, CEO of AMI-Neshima at 972-258/76767. Their address is P.O. Box 2454, Jerusalem, Israel 9102302. They also have a web site: http://www.artists.org.il.


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