Eden Golan receives standing ovation in London for October Rain performance

The Letters Light and Love evening sought to raise funds to rebuild Kibbutz Be’eri, eight months after the town was devastated by Hamas terrorists


Eden Golan at the Letters Light and Love fundraising event in London, June 30, 2024

Israeli Eurovision contestant Eden Golan received a lengthy standing ovation from UK Jewry after performing her original song October Rain in a West End London venue on Sunday night, her first performance of the song outside Israel since taking part in the popular televised competition in May.

About 830 people from across the Jewish community and outside  of it, including comedian Jimmy Carr, attended the ‘Letters Light and Love’ fundraising event, which sought to raise money for the purpose of rebuilding Kibbutz Be’eri,  specifically the reconstruction of the kindergartens shattered by Hamas terrorists on October 7.

Kibbutz Be’eri was one of the hardest hit communities on October 7 during Hamas’s murderous rampage through southern Israel. About one tenth of the community’s population, more than 120 people, were massacred by terrorists on the day and a further 26 residents taken hostage. The kibbutz kindergarten was used by dozens of Hamas terrorists as a base during the invasion, destroying it in the process and effectively crippling the kibbutz even eight months on after the attack. While some residents have now started to return to the town, the kibbutz requires families in order to thrive again and so must now reconstruct these education centres.

Sunday evening’s script consisted almost entirely of stirring letters from various eras written by notable figures Caesar to Maimonides, Golda Meir to Montefiore, Einstein to Churchill – all highlighting the historic link between Jewish people and the land of Israel spanning thousands of years.

Accompanied by live music and songs performed by a professional ensemble, the epistolary homages to Israel were read by numerous public figures and outspoken defenders of the country, ranging from screen and stage actors, musicians, activists, and journalists, each wearing a yellow ribbon to remember the hostages still held in Gaza.

Performers included world-famous Israeli model Bar Rafaeli, actress Dame Maureen Lipman, Will & Grace actress Debra Messing, television mathematician Rachel Riley MBE, Olivier award-winning actor Elliot Levey, celebrated Ethiopian Israeli singer Ester Rada, and veteran stage actor Allan Corduner.

Booker-winning novelist Howard Jacobson, journalist Eve Barlow, Saudi online activist Loay Alshareef, comedian Josh Howie, and Oscar-nominated screen writer Lee Kern also took to the stage to read out letters.

Well-known Israeli actors Michael Aloni, star of shows such as Shtisel, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem and When Heroes Fly, and Rona-Lee Shimon, known as the character Nurit in Fauda, both took part.

There were also readings from Noa Bodner, an Israeli-born classically-trained stage actress, who is currently rehearsing for Fiddler on the Roof at Regent’s Park Open Air Threatre, and Louisa Clein, known for her roles in Emmerdale and Judge John Deed.

Towards the end of the evening, Israeli Eurovision contestant Eden Golan, whose recent run in the competition inspired millions around the world, achieving fifth place and second in the public vote, sang her original song October Rain, written about the October 7 terrorist attacks against Israel. The name of the song was changed to Hurricane after the original name was deemed too political for the televised show.

The 20-year-old, who was subject to intimidatory mobs protesting outside her hotel during the Eurovision contest, was met with roaring applause and a standing ovation from spectators on Sunday night.

Seated in the front row was Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely who, speaking to the JC following the event, described the evening as “totally incredible, absolutely inspiring”.

Sarah Sultman, creator and co-producer of the show, said that in preparing for the event, they had “researched and collected hundreds of letters from the thousands, if not millions, that exist; this show is just a mere drop in the ocean of the those narratives.”
“We are a people with a rich history and connection to Israel that spans centuries,” Sultman said, adding: “We hope that other diaspora communities around the world will take this script and adapt it for themselves and stage it so that the letters continue to create new stories of renewed hope, connectivity and pride in our homeland.”

UJIA’s Chief Executive Mandie Winston, the charity partner for the event, described the vital project as “crucial to helping young families return to Kibbutz Be’eri, and the target of £1 million to be raised in a single evening shows the scale of the challenge and our determination to work until the community is able to realise its dream of going home. Together, we can make sure that Israel emerges from the ashes of October 7 stronger and more resilient than before.”

Michal Noé, co-producer of the event, said the team behind Letters Light and Love have been “incredible”. He said: “Cast, crew and individuals have all given generously of their time and their talent and come together to remind us at this critical moment in Israel’s history of the joy and pride we all have for our homeland.”

Letters were sourced from some of the most renowned Israeli and British archives, including the National Library of Israel, Otzarot, The Shazar Centre via the Jerusalem Foundation, the Hazi Ovadia Archive, The Palmach Library, The Wiener Library London and the University of Cambridge Library.
Live music was provided by Muzika, featuring lead vocals by Gilan Shahaf and Inbar Yohananof.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive