Zula’s Violinist

13 Mar 2024

She left home at 14.  She walked the streets at night.  She slept on benches.  For years.

Tonight, she sat two feet away on the couch, smiling.

Channah Devora is one of 2,500 Jewish young adults who descend each month to a basement.  But this is no ordinary basement.  This basement is the OU “Zula,” located in central Jerusalem.

Zula, which means “a cozy place in nature” in Arabic, could not be a better name.

When you descend to the Zula basement, you’re immediately hit by aroma from the kitchen, where all kinds of food are available for free.  It’s welcoming, delicious, inviting, and warm.

Your senses soon ricochet to the sound of music.  Across from the kitchen, 60, maybe 70 young Jewish adults are hanging out, relaxing.  There are couches. There are guitars.  There is song, There is music.  It fills your soul.

Nothing here is by-chance.  For all the seeming-informality, the Zula is an ingenious environment of smell and sound that is conducive for conversation.  And conversation is the goal.

Sometimes its about sexual abuse.  Sometimes its verbal or emotional abuse.  And sometimes the reason why someone comes is simply because they are lonely.  Life can feel pointless when you believe no one sees you, no one cares.

Late at night, spirited live music and delicious foods set the ambiance of comfort for young adults to open up to trained and experienced OU Advisors.  Music and delicious food create a sense of warmth that permits one to share their stories and begin to heal.

So too Channah Devora.

While wandering the streets, Channah Devora came upon a violin years back.  She taught herself to play.

Last year she thought to apply – somehow – to music school but was too nervous to audition.

This year, after hanging and playing with friends at the Zula, Channah plans to go to that audition next month; this time with confidence.

Tonight, she played for me the iconic tune of the Mi-Shaberach prayer, composed for the healing and welfare of others.

Channah is healing.  And to my own surprise, so am I.

Hear Channah play:


Jeff Korbman is the OU Director of Foundations & Strategic Partnerships


The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.