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Sinclair Staff Boycott, Protest Concert by Israeli Artist Ishay Ribo

Sinclair staff members and Cambridge residents protest outside the concert venue, boycotting a concert in support of Israel by Israeli artist Ishay Ribo. Counter-protesters with Israeli flags face them across the street. Staff at The Sinclair boycotted a concert in support of Israel by Israeli artist Ishay Ribo and protested outside the venue Tuesday night.
Sinclair staff members and Cambridge residents protest outside the concert venue, boycotting a concert in support of Israel by Israeli artist Ishay Ribo. Counter-protesters with Israeli flags face them across the street. Staff at The Sinclair boycotted a concert in support of Israel by Israeli artist Ishay Ribo and protested outside the venue Tuesday night. By Julian J. Giordano
By Joyce E. Kim and Asher J. Montgomery, Crimson Staff Writers

Staff at The Sinclair, a Cambridge concert venue, boycotted a concert in support of Israel by Israeli artist Ishay Ribo and protested outside the venue Tuesday night, joined by dozens of Boston and Cambridge residents and several Harvard affiliates.

More than thirty Sinclair staff members — including managers, bartenders, security, and box office staffers — protested and chanted for five hours outside the concert, which was organized by Harvard Chabad to raise money for Israel.

The pro-Palestine protest drew pro-Israel counterprotestors, who held Israeli flags and posters of hostages. Around 8:30 p.m. — the start time for Ribo’s second show — the two groups stood on opposite sides of Church Street, holding signs and shouting at one another.

Pro-Palestine protesters and pro-Israel protesters stand on opposite sides of Church Street, holding signs and shouting at one another.
Pro-Palestine protesters and pro-Israel protesters stand on opposite sides of Church Street, holding signs and shouting at one another. By Addison Y. Liu

The workers at the Sinclair unanimously opposed the concert but saw their complaints ignored by the Bowery Presents — the company that books shows at the venue — according to Sinclair security guard Max D. Morton.

“None of us had wanted this to happen,” Morton said. “It’s just a bummer that it didn’t matter to them.”

“Now the gem that The Sinclair is has to be stained with something like this, and it fucking sucks because it wasn’t in any of our hands,” he added.

Due to the boycott, outside workers were hired to staff the event, according to several attendees at both protests. The Bowery Presents did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Chabad Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi said that he heard about a week ago that staff members would be boycotting the event. He said he could not hear the protest going on outside during the show.

“We didn’t make much of this protest, thank god, we figured out creative ways” to hold the event, Zarchi said. “We’re very grateful, by the way, to The Sinclair management and ownership for working with us to seek solutions, alternative solutions, to allow the event to go on.”

Joshua T. Weinreb, a medical resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a member of Harvard Chabad, said his wife was contacted earlier that day and asked to help out.

“If the staff members aren’t gonna come, we would take their place,” Weinreb said, adding that he decided to volunteer to support a “great cause.”

The proceeds from the ticket sales were intended to go to “healing and rebuilding of Israel,” according to promotional material for the concert.

The tickets for both shows were sold out, according to the Harvard Chabad website.

The venue has already begun facing backlash with artists canceling shows, according to Sinclair workers.

Protesters hold a sign reading "Venue Workers Against Genocide." The workers at the Sinclair unanimously opposed and boycotted the concert.
Protesters hold a sign reading "Venue Workers Against Genocide." The workers at the Sinclair unanimously opposed and boycotted the concert. By Julian J. Giordano

Adric Giles, who was protesting the concert, said his band Rong was scheduled to play at The Sinclair in a few weeks but canceled due to “moral conflicts.”

“We’ll never be coming back here as patrons either,” Giles said, adding that The Sinclair was not “just another venue that we can no longer go to comfortably knowing how the ownership wants to conduct business.”

“It’s very upsetting, very unfortunate,” he added.

While some of the boycotting workers said they would return to work at the Sinclair after the protest, Morton said he had “no idea” whether he would be back or what would happen next.

“I hope that more conversations are had,” he said. “It’s hard but it’s gotta be done.”

Correction: February 28, 2024

A previous version of this article mispelled Harvard Chabad Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi’s first name.

—Staff Writer Azusa M. Lippit contributed reporting.

—Staff writer Joyce E. Kim can be reached at joyce.kim@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X at @joycekim324.

—Staff writer Asher J. Montgomery can be reached at asher.montgomery@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @asherjmont or on Threads @asher_montgomery.

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