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Concert for Freedom: Discovering the Power of Teams

Rashelly Davis – Orquesta Filarmónica de Israel

Rashelly Davis plays clarinet for the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and just completed her second year with the Team, Management, and Leadership Program at Landmark Education. Landmark Education’s program in Israel is based in Tel Aviv, with eleven people on the team — seven in the first year, four in the second. The program weekends at the end of each quarter are held in London, England in conjunction with Team Europe.After Shelly arrived in London for her last weekend with Team Israel May 25-27, 2012 she shared some of her experiences with me via Skype.  Moved by the 2006 capture of Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas militants, Shelly first set her sights on impacting his situation while taking the Self Expression and Leadership Program (SELP) also at Landmark Education. Held in a secret location, Gilad Shalit was denied visits from the Red Cross or any meaningful communication with his parents. Shelly shares “As a human being and a mother of four, I feel deep empathy and sympathy for Gilad Shalit’s parents, especially for their horrible uncertainty about the fate of their own child.” Shelly had a vision of performing with the Israel Philharmonic in the Gaza Strip and then returning home with Gilad Shalit and enrolled the orchestra general secretary to partner with her  in  making  her  vision   a   reality.   However,  at  a certain point in that project, he gave up and Shelly gave up along with him.

Shelly continued to wonder what she could do in this matter, and in TMLP, she learned how to structure teams around a project and once again took steps to realize her vision. “I wanted to do something for Gilad and his family for a long time, but I thought that such big projects could only be executed by important and powerful people, not by me,” she explains. “Once I realized this wasn’t true, I felt free to think of things I COULD do and created a team of people from the Israel Philharmonic and three women from the Shalit Campaign.”

To draw worldwide attention to the violation of Gilad Shalit’s human rights, they organized a march culminating in a public outdoor concert on the Israeli side of the Gaza Strip, conducted by world-renowned Music Director, Maestro Zubin Mehta. On July 5, 2010 over 12,000 people attended the concert.

In taking on something so large, Shelly got invaluable experience and breakthroughs in seeing how she gets stopped when confronted with lack of agreement or support by authority figures. When she first considered asking the orchestra’s secretary general to partner with her in organizing the concert, “I wouldn’t even say ‘hello’ to him — I thought I wasn’t interesting enough for him to want to speak with me,” Shelly says. What made the difference? Creating a new possibility and taking on a concern larger than herself — “I just kept thinking about taking leadership and what would I do if it was my son? This is the moment where we must put aside our daily troubles for a soldier that has been imprisoned for four years. This is the campaign for Gilad’s life! This is the campaign for all our lives!”

After the concert, Shelly continued to create projects while in TMLP to work towards Gilad Shalit’s release, which came on October 18, 2011 as part of a prisoner exchange deal. With this project complete, Shelly has most recently been working with a team of leaders to support and empower women and families in a variety of ways. Some of the projects in the works include opening the first Montessori school in Israel, organizing a women’s health and wellness march in her hometown of Holon, and creating a series of meetings and workshops to explore four Biblical mothers and create possibilities for people to realize their dreams and vision.   She is also involved in bringing the first Landmark Forum — a Landmark Education program designed to bring about positive and permanent shifts in the quality of life for participants — to Ramallah on the Israel/Palestine border by January 2013.

Asked if she had managerial potential in an interview conducted shortly before the concert for Gilad Shalit, Shelly concluded, “I had some fear that I’d be very nervous. But in the end, I realized it isn’t true that I’m not capable.” This just may be the understatement of the century.

More Information on Rashelly Davis and the Concert for Gilad Shalit, go to

Shelly Davis, what’s your message in holding a concert near the Gaza border?


Rashelly Davis, Team Israel

Written by Lisa Cerqueira, Team New England