Laura Bialis is an American-Israeli filmmaker. Her artistic eye has most often gravitated toward and focused on the suffering and social ills of our planet. Her work has taken her to the concentration camps of Europe, to Kosovo… and to the missile-torn town of Sderot, Israel. Sderot is an Israeli city of 23,000 residents that sits on the eastern border of the Gaza Strip in southwest Israel. Over 7000 missiles have hit this small town in the last ten years – almost two per day. Bomb shelters are a part of almost every home and have been built along every major road. One of those bomb shelters has been transformed into a music studio and is the seedbed for some of the most popular music in Israel. Laura discovered the balm of this bombed-out region…is music.

Avi Vaknin is Sderot’s most prominent musician and one of the rising pop music stars of Israel. He began his work as a producer releasing two compilation albums: The Record Project and The Hope Project. Both albums were compilations of musicians from Sderot. His debut solo album, Square of the Lost, was an immediate success in Israel. His second album, First Light, was critically acclaimed and immediately put singles on Israeli radio. The best part of the story, however…during the making of Laura’s film Rock in the Red Zone…amid all the music and missiles… Avi and Laura fell in love and married.

Our annual Summer Music Sunday affords us an opportunity to explore different styles of music and integrate them into our worship of God. In recent years, we’ve hosted Livingston Taylor, street musicians from downtown Greenville and bluegrass bands. This year, on Sunday, June 11, Laura Bialis and Avi Vaknin will participate in our morning worship. I will interview Laura as part of the morning sermon, and Avi will share a couple of his songs. As always, there will be a lunch concert in the Fellowship Hall following morning worship. Reservations must be made to attend the luncheon concert and may be made online. We have an additional treat this year. At 5:00pm, their film Rock in the Red Zone will be shown at the Peace Center’s Gunter Theater. Tickets are available at the Peace Center Box Office and at the Peace Center website. Seating is limited. Don’t wait to get your tickets to see this film… and wrap up a wonderful Summer Music Sunday at First Baptist Greenville.

— Jim