The lobby of Cal State L.A.'s Luckman Fine Arts Theater was stocked with pamphlets on Israel and its culture, both in English and in Spanish, on Jan. 16. Inside the theater, as singer Pini Cohen and mime Hanoch Rosen waited in the wings, a small crowd of invited guests chatted, some in Hebrew, some in English and some in Spanish. In the front row sat Yuval Rotem and José Luis Bernal, consuls general in Los Angeles from Israel and Mexico, respectively.
For the past eight months, the Israeli and Mexican consulates have worked together to bring their two communities together in Los Angeles.
"We represent two of the largest communities in Los Angeles. Even as foreign governments, we can do something positive for the city by bringing people together," said Bernal.
"The best way to do that is through sharing our cultures," Rotem added.
An evening of Mexican culture is planned later this year, for an invited Israeli audience.
When Pini Cohen took the stage, he got the audience clapping along to his danceable Hebrew tunes. The crowd, largely invited by the Mexican consulate, really came alive when he launched into his Spanish number, "Quiero Volver." After a short intermission, it was time for the mime.
Rosen's clowning needed no translation. Mexican, Israeli and American guests screamed with laughter as the equal-opportunity crowd pleaser pantomimed an unlucky traveler at airport security, and pulled audience members to the stage (using an invisible rope) to help him create a silent Wild West melodrama. When Rosen spoke to the audience, in English, he credited the "international language of pantomime" with bringing the audience together.
After the show, Rotem said, "When we heard Hanoch Rosen would be in town, we knew this would be the show to share with our Mexican friends. Everyone laughs together. Language does not matter here."