Arik Einstein – Lost and Found in Translation

November 28, 2013 by

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Along with the heart-felt tributes to Arik Einstein, there has been a fascinating undercurrent of emotional hoarding on the part of some Israelis. Assuming that no one outside of Israel has ever heard of Arik Einstein or any of his songs, they then make a further assumption that it is their job to explain what he and his music meant. Yet after this double-assumption, everything closes down. Writes Israeli-born Liel Leibovitz: “I have nothing to say to you about Arik Einstein. I’m sorry to sound like a prick, but you wouldn’t get it.” It’s an extreme comment, but sums up a prevailing sentiment. Those non-Israelis, they won’t get it.

There is something rather beautiful and also sad about this kind of response. The character and the music of Arik Einstein made its impact in the way the best of art should: Through our hearts. His music touched millions, each of whom received it as if created for them alone. This is the paradoxical magic of art. As a result, when feeling his loss, it is a personal emotional loss that – when we are sad – we sometimes fight to “own”. “You wouldn’t get it,” is a perfect way to maintain the purity and unique authenticity of my pain. To Full Post

Culture Vulture – Haim Hefer z”l

 

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Haim Hefer one of Israel’s unquestionable cultural icons, and Israel Prize laureate, died yesterday in Tel Aviv at the age of 86.

His coffin will be in public view in The New Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv from 13:00 today, before it is buried this evening in the artists village of Ein Hod.

Born in the Polish town of Sosnowice in 1925, Hefer’s family moved to Myslowice that Hefer described as a very important town for the Jews as “Bilaik lived and wrote there for at least a year.”

Even if you think you don’t know his work, you might be wrong. If you know some of the “good old songs of Eretz Yisrael”, then you probably know some of Hefer’s work. His songs can be found throughout the sound track of the State of Israel. “The Red Rock”, “Yes, It’s Possible” and “In Those Days” are just a few of his iconic creations.

At the age of 11 he came on aliyah to Mandatory Palestine with the Machanot Ha’Olim youth movement, and by the age of 17 he was already a fighter in the Palmach.

When he first arrived, Hefer was speaking classical Hebrew, and used Hebrew expressions of a previous age as a result of the Hebrew classes he took before coming on aliyah. At first his classmates from Raanana would give him a hard time for his Ivrit, but very quickly he managed to integrate. In a Haaretz interview from a few years ago, talking about his early days in Palestine, he is reported as saying “I never denied my origins, but I knew Hebrew. That’s the whole deal.”

Here Harel Skat interviews him for Channel 2 (no English translation)

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Here is a Channel 1 clip in which Achinoam Nini sings just to Hefer. At the end he says “I have never heard such a beautiful rendition in my life”

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Another Channel 1 clip of a collection of his songs is here

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 Hefer made it clear that he doesn’t want Kaddish or El Maaleh Rachamim recited at his funeral, but rather “I’d prefer a little Sacha Argov.”

Leading up to the Days of Awe – questions for a fragile time

September 11, 2012 by

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Unetane Tokef is one of the most powerful piyutim of the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur service. The piyut describes the terrible roll-call of death that God prepares at the head of each new year.

Who will die this year? ask the angels listening to the Lord’s call. Who will die before their time? Who by fire and who by sword?

In Israel this piece of liturgy tends to speak to the hearts of the most secular as well as the religious. After burying eleven of its sons in the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the secular Kibbutz Bet HaShita even commissioned a new tune to Unetane Tokef, so moved were they by its painful reminder of the fragility of life.

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As we approach once again the Days of Awe, ready to sing Unetane Tokef at the start and end of these days of repentance, fragility would seem to be the theme of our preparations.

Several questions may well accompany our thoughts.

  • Will a war break out with Iran before the end of the year? And if not, will this make a nuclear war more or less likely?
  • Will the Gazan and Northern Front be calm, while Syria rages?

And less immediately existential but no less crucial:

  • Will an election in Israel be called prior to the vote on a new budget, and will the budget manage to address the concerns raised by the Social Justice protests?
  • Will the Tag of Light responses defeat the Price Taggers, who defile Christian and Muslim sites in protest at government action against settlements?
  • Will the work place and the military be able to integrate the Haredi community without extracting too high a price for all involved?
  • Will we find a just, decent, and practical way of addressing the growing African refugee crisis in Israel?
  • Will the phenomenon of Israeli mainstream culture addressing Jewish sources be a passing trend, or emerge as a tremendous force for renewal?

Bet HaShita’s tune composed by Yair Rosenblum, with its mournfulness and its energy, offers us no answers, but perhaps provides reassurance for our souls. It may come as no surprise that synagogues throughout the country now sing the ancient words of Unetane Tokef to this new tune.

Shana Tova – Happy New Year!

Make Your Own Israeli Music Video

 

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Celebrating Israeli Culture and Expression (Pride):
We believe that one of the most beautiful expressions of להיות עם חופשי בארצנו (To be a Free People in Our Land) is the flourishing of Jewish culture and art that has come as a natural progression from the Jewish people building a thriving society in their ancestral homeland. To Full Post

Rabbi Daniel L. Lehmann, President of Hebrew College

 

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From my perspective, the “Come Home” videos suggest a profound indictment of Jewish education and identity formation in Israeli secular culture. To Full Post

Ruth Calderon, Executive Director of Alma College

 

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These are poor commercials in my opinion.

The fact that they will “always remain Israeli” is true, and an interesting cultural truth. The next stage – help them to return home – is not essential, paternalistic, and blind to the interesting new cultural developments taking place in Israeli communities abroad. To Full Post

Dr. Ruth Calderon, Chair and Founder of Alma College

 

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These are poor commercials in my opinion.

The fact that they will “always remain Israeli” is true, and an interesting cultural truth. The next stage – help them to return home – is not essential, paternalistic, and blind to the interesting new cultural developments taking place in Israeli communities abroad. To Full Post

Engaging with Israel through Culture

 

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 Click here for downloadable pdf. 

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Israel – Myth and Reality

 

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 Click here for downloadable pdf.

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Camp Israel – Day Eight – Israel 1996

 

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The Gesher Theater – Russian influence on Israeli arts

 Click here for downloadable pdf.

 

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