By CATHERINE HOSMAN
Westbank resident helps build bridges of hope
Rita Adams is an ambassador for peace. For the past 20 years she has been leading groups to Israel to help victims of terrorism on both sides of the Middle East conflict. “My heart goes out to victims on both sides,” she says.
Her work has been centered on five international charities – Bridges for Peace, which sends a coalition of Christians to Israel to help repair homes; New Vision: Home for Bible Translators and Scholars in Jerusalem; Hadassah Hospital; Exodus, Ltd., and Project Rescue/Project Hope, which assists Jews in the former Soviet Union.
Born in Brazil and raised in the Roman Catholic religion, Adams is no stranger to adversity.
When she was 5, she was placed in the orphanage and foster home system in Brazil. Hope for a happy life appeared dim until she met Padre Juvenal Zonta who recognized the pain behind the little girl’s eyes, as well as her intellect.
“He became my guardian angel,” she says. Zonta took the young girl under his wings and became her mentor, educator and guide through life until she was old enough to go it alone.
Adams spent seven years in the orphanage system with Zonta, and by the time she was 18 years old, she could speak six languages.
This knowledge has helped her to evolve into an ambassador for peace as she tries to bridge the gap between cultures in her travels to Israel and other countries. Just this past year she visited India, Portugal, Russia, Finland, Spain and Mexico, to help support the bible translators by raising funds for their work.
In Spring 2003, she will lead another entourage to Israel where she will resume her work in Jerusalem in an effort to bring peace and comfort to victims of terrorism.
From Nashville’s Music Row to Israel
Adams’ American life began in Nashville, Tenn., with her husband Bud, and their two children.
She met her husband in Sao Paolo, Brazil where he was working for the Hospital Corporation of America as president of the international division. When he was transferred to its headquarters in Nashville, Adams found herself in a whirlwind of culture shock.
“I was lost in America,” she says. “I didn’t know what a peanut butter and jelly sandwich was.”
As she was settling into her role as a young American wife to a corporate executive, neighbors invited the Adamses to join them on a vacation in Israel.
“The first time I visited Israel as a tourist was 20 years ago,” she says.
The impact was immediate for Adams, who is descendant of European Jews who fled Europe during World War I.
“I felt like I was going home,” she says. “I was never the same.”
Sojourns to Israel became an annual event for Adams, with the support of her family. Eventually she began to bring groups with her and they would travel the countryside from Jerusalem to Hebron and most places in between.
As Adams settled into her new life filled with family, friends and travel, she added another dimension to her life when she was thrust into the spotlight as an international country music connection.
“A friend in Brazil who wrote in a magazine about country sounds in Brazil was sent to Nashville to cover an awards show and contacted me,” recalls Adams. “He said he needed my help.”
The crew from Brazil didn’t take into consideration the difference in electrical components between Brazil and America, so none of their equipment worked.
“He needed a cameraman to cover the show,” she says. Adams called a friend who did freelance camera work and editing who brought with him the necessary equipment and crew.
“I was translating Portuguese to English,” says Adams, who has lived in the Westbank since 1997. “I told my friend that the next year I would set up the interviews and get cameras. All he had to do was fax me his requests.”
She took her love for this musical genre and started Rita Adams and Associates. Adams became an international correspondent for radio stations in Norway, Spain and Brazil and was also was a freelance writer and photographer for various country music magazines in Europe, as well as a regular correspondent to The Brasilian newspaper in New York.
Adams spent 12 years rubbing elbows with country music’s royalty and the evidence is in the hundreds of photographs she has of herself and nearly every major country music star of the 1980s and 1990s.
All that changed, however, as she continued her journeys to Israel. “As I traveled to Israel, I began leaning more towards Christian music,” she says. She began producing Brazilian artists and Christian music videos that sent a good message. In 1997 she left the Nashville spotlight and began her life in Austin.
On Saturday, Feb. 1, Adams is presenting the first annual Israeli Awareness Weekend at the Westlake Bible Church. Experts will present informational seminars on the current situation in Israel. There will be booths filled with artwork from Israel, Israeli and Brazilian food, music, videos and more. On Sunday, Feb. 2, local churches will host scholars on the subject of the Middle East in an effort to bring awareness and to raise funds for Bridges for Peace, Hadassah Hospital, The Home for Bible Translators and Exodus, Ltd.
“What we are hoping to achieve is for people to be aware of the need,” Adams says. “We are using all the blessings, resources and moral standards we have.”