A haunting rendition of Lu Yehi by Yaron Herman and his trio

Israel is fertile ground for jazz.  I have covered some of the Israeli jazz scene in a previous post.

Yaron Herman

Yaron Herman is ירון הרמן‎ is a French-Israeli jazz pianist now living in Paris. After a few years of piano study, he attended the Boston, MA Berklee College of Music at age 19. He then moved to Paris, France, where he began his recording career at age 21.  He is inspired by such jazz legends as Keith JarrettPaul BleyLennie Tristano and Brad Mehldau – my favorites too!   His website can be found at http://yaronherman.com/ 

BBC’s Kevin LeGendre reviewed Herman’s Muse album, where Lu Yehi is featured, in 2009. “Melodically gifted as he is, Herman is no slouch as an improviser and a fleet, precise right hand unfurls a number of sparkling, at times Chick Corea-like statements in which the Spanish-Arabic flourish is strong.”

Herman’s cover of Lu Yehi follows the song’s haunting melody but introduces a jazzy dissonance that evokes the hurt, chaos and uncertainty of war.

Lu Yehi

The famous Israeli song LU YEHI – לוּ יְהִי  (May It Be) was written and composed by Naomi Shemer during the Yom Kippur War (1973).  Naomi also famously wrote “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” (“Jerusalem of Gold”) in 1967 after Israel won the Six-Day War.  In “Lu Yehi”, Naomi Shemer hopes for a quick end to the war and for the safe return of IDF soldiers (“This is the end of the summer, the end of the road, let them come back.”)

Lyrics in Hebrew and English (from Hebrewsongs.com)

Od yesh mifras lavan ba’ofek
mul anan shachor kaved
Kol shenevakesh – Lu Yehi.

Ve’im bacholonot ha’erev
Or nerot hachag ro’ed –
Kol shenevakesh – Lu Yehi.

Lu Yehi, Lu Yehi, Ana, Lu Yehi
Kol shenevakesh – Lu Yehi.

Ma kol anot ani shomei’a
Kol shofar vekol tupim
Kol shenevakesh lu yehi

Lu tishama betoch kawl eileh
Gam tefila achat mipi
Kol shenevakesh lu yehi

Lu yehi…

Betoch sh’chuna ktana mutzelet
Bait kat im gag adom
Kol shenevakesh lu yehi

Zeh sof hakayitz, sof haderech
Ten lahem lashuv halom
Kol shenevakesh lu yehi

Lu yehi…

Ve’im pit’om yizrach mei’ofel
Al rosheinu or kochav
Kol shenevakesh lu yehi

Az ten shalva veten gam ko’ach
Lechol eileh shenohav
Koll shenevakesh – lu yehi

Lu yehi………

There is still a white sail on the horizon
Opposite a heavy black cloud
All that we ask for – may it be

And if in the evening windows
The light of the holiday candles flickers
All that we seek – may it be

May it be, may it be – Please – may it be
All that we seek – may it be.

What is the sound that I hear
The cry of the shofar and the sound of drums
All that we ask for – may it be

If only there can be heard within all this
One prayer from my lips also
All that we seek – may it be

May it be…

Within a small, shaded neighborhood
Is a small house with a red roof
All that we ask for, may it be

This is the end of summer, the end of the path
Allow them to return safely here
All that we seek, may it be

May it be…

And if suddenly, rising from the darkness
Over our heads, the light of a star shines
All that we ask for, may it be

Then grant tranquility and also grant strength
To all those we love
All that we seek, may it be

May it be…

Advertisements

A quick look at twenty notable Rabbis…

Hundreds more notable Rabbis could have made this list.  My goal is to give an idea of the intellectual depth and breadth (yes, not much social diversity!) over the centuries: the development of Rabbinical Judaism and its codification, mysticism, the interaction with scientific discoveries, philosophy and other religions, the Holocaust, the return to the Land, and Judaism in a world of technology, globalization, social diversity and integration. You may want to check my companion post for my comments on Rabbinic Judaism in general.

Yohanan ben Zakkai

Yohanan ben Zakkai  (c.30 BCE–90 CE) was an important rabbinical sage who lived in the final days of the Second Temple, essentially marking the transition from the Judaic priestly system to Rabbinical Judaism. Following the destruction of the Temple, Yochanan opened a school near Yavneh that was instrumental in moving Judaism away from sacrifices and towards prayer.  He led the establishment of the tannaim school of thought that became the main contributor to the Mishnah and the Talmud.  He was buried in the city of Tiberias.

Rabbi Akiva

Akiba ben Yosef  (c.40–c.137, Judea}, was a tanna of the latter part of the first century and the beginning of the second century (the third tannaitic generation). Rabbi Akiva is a leading contributor to the Mishnah and to Midrash halakha (religious practice). He is referred to in the Talmud as Rosh la-Hakhamim “Chief of the Sages”.   He was executed by the Romans in the aftermath of the Bar Kokhba revolt.

Sa’adia Gaon

Codex_ArabicusRabbi Sa’adiah ben Yosef Gaon   (882/892 – 942 ) was born in Egypt.  His Book of Beliefs and Opinions represents the first systematic attempt to integrate Jewish theology with components of Greek philosophy.  Sa’adia wrote about his opposition to Karaism (the belief that the Tanakh or Old Testament is the only source of Jewish law and theology) in defense of Rabbinic Judaism.  Sa’adia wrote both in Hebrew and Arabic.

RAbbi SHlomo Itzhaki (RASHI)

Rashi (Years 1040 to 1105) lived in Troyes, France, about 200 km Southeast of Paris, an important center of trade in the Middle Ages. Many Jewish merchant-scholars attended trade fairs in Troyes which gave Rashi access to many Jewish manuscripts of the ToseftaJerusalem TalmudMidrashTargum and the writings of the Geonim.  His writings and commentaries were seen as the “official repository of Rabbinical tradition” which ultimately influenced Martin Luther. Rashi’s commentary on the Pentateuch is considered the first printed Hebrew work.

Maimonides

Moshe ben Maimon was born on March 30, 1135 in Cordoba, Spain.  He fled to Morocco in 1160 then later to Jerusalem, and finally settled in Cairo, Egypt where he died in 1204.  He is mostly known by his greek name, Moses Maimonides, or the acronym of his title and name, RaMBaM.  He was a rabbi, physician, and philosopher.  His major works consist of the 14-volume Mishneh Torah and the Guide for the Perplexed, written to provide rational explanations for traditional Jewish law.   He was heavily influenced by Aristotle, the Greek philosopher.  Maimonides was also the personal physician of the Vizir of Egypt and of Saladin himself.
seder-olam-mishneh-torah Maimonides.JPG
Manuscript of Mishneh Torah, signed by Maimonides, c. 1180 — found in the Cairo Genizra
(source: Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, Ms. Heb. d.32, fols 53b-54a)

Nahmanides

Moses ben Nahman, also known as Nachmanides or by the acronym RaMBaN, was born in Girona, Catalonia, Spain in 1194 and died in Jerusalem in 1270.  He was a Sephardic rabbi, philosopher, physician, kabbalist, and biblical commentator.  He was a great supporter of the original Talmudic work in response perhaps to Maimonides breakthrough work and the influence of Greek and Arabic philosophy.  He helped mediate opposition to Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed by allowing its philosophical approach to remain, but prohibiting its study…   In 1263, he was called by King James I of Aragon to participate in a disputation against Pablo Christiani, a Jew who had converted to Christianity.  The RaMBaN clearly won the disputation but was still sent in exile.  Fleeing Christian persecution, he ended up in Jerusalem where he helped re-establish Jewish communal life there following the end of the Crusades.   

Obadiah of Bertinoro

Obadiah of Bertinoro was born c. 1450 in Bertinoro, now Italy and died before 1516. He is known for his commentary on the Mishnah, integrating explanations from Rashi and rulings from Maimonides. He is also remembered for three letters describing his three-year journey (1486–88) to Jerusalem. The letters include descriptions of the people and customs of the Jewish communities he visited on the way from Italy to the Holy Land.  See additional articles on R. Obadiah here and on Jewish life in early modern Italy here.

Rabbi Yitzhak Luria

10 SephirotIsaac (ben Solomon) Luria Ashkenazi is also known as Ha’ARI. He was born in 1534 in Jerusalem of an Ashkenazi father and a Sephardi mother.  He died on July 25, 1572 in Safed, Israel.  Luria is considered the father of modern Kabbalah.  He is known for his oral teachings, having written only a few poems on his own.  He turned to mysticism as a young man, spending seven years in Egypt as a recluse and focusing on the Zohar, the main work of Kabbalistic commentaries.  He returned to Palestine in 1569 and eventually settled in Safed.  He was known for his impassioned oral teachings referred as Lurianic Kabbalah.  These lectures or teachings were  captured by his disciples led by Rabbi Hayyim Vital, and compiled into eight volumes known as Etz Chayim, (“Tree of Life”.)  R. Luria is buried at the Old Jewish Cemetery in Safed. See more in this article.

Moses Isserles

Mojżesz ben Israel Isserles, also known the acronym Rema was born in 1530 in Kraków, Poland. He died there in 1572.  His father was a well-known talmudist and wealthy community member.  Moses became Rabbi of Krakow at age 20 and estalished a yeshiva there.  Isserles’ major accomplishment was in the area of halakha where he contributed to the Shulchan Aruch authored by Yosef Karo with whom he is said to have corresponded.  His writings also covered Aggadah, Kabbalah, philosophy, and even astronomy.  He served on the Polish Council of the Four Lands.

Joseph ben Ephraim Karo

Joseph Karo, known also as Mechaber (the Author) was born in Toledo, Spain in 1488 to a renowned talmudist father. At age 4, his family fled to Portugual following the Alhambra expulsion decree then to Nikopolis, Greece.  He eventually settled in Safed, Palestine where he served on the Rabbinical Court of Safed (which adjudicated Jewish law in the Southern Ottoman empire and Syria).  He remained there until his death in 1575. 

His major works include Beth Yosef and the Shulchan Aruch. These works sought to standardize Jewish laws and customs following the expulsion and collapse of the Jewish community of Spain.  The Shulchan Aruch is still considered a work of reference today.

Leon of Modena

R. Leone Modena also known as Judah Aryeh was born in 1571 and died in 1648 in Venice, Italy.  Leon of Modena lived a difficult personal life, losing three of his five children, seeing his wife becoming insane and being addicted to gambling himself.  His work focused on the conflicts between the new scientific knowledge acquired during the Italian Renaissance and loyalty to Jewish tradition.  His writings include Ari Nohem, (“The Lion Roars”), a critique of the Zohar, and Historia de ‘riti Ebraici published in Paris in 1635.  This last book was written at the request of the English Ambassador and describes Italian Jewish customs of the time.

Israel ben Eliezer (Baal Shem Tov) 

Israel ben Eliezer, also known as the Baal Shem Tov (Master of the Good Name) or his acronym BeShT, was born around 1700 in Western Ukraine. He died in nearby Medzhybizh in 1760.  Like R. Isaac Luria (see above) he is mainly known for his oral teachings which were documented by other authors later.  Israel ben Eliezer is considered the founder of the Hasidism movement.  As an itinerant teacher’s assistant, he devoted himself to the education of poor Jewish children living in small villages.  He studied Kabbalah(Jewish mysticism.)  He eventually settled in Medzhybizh where he developed a spiritual following.

Hasidism is a Kabbalh-inspired revival movement drawing from, emphasizing and amplifying certain aspects of Lurianic teachings (see above) such as oneness with God, piety, and fervor.  This approach is derived from the BeShT’s life experience and, in part ,in response to the Khmelnitsky massacres of a generation earlier and the false messianic movements of Sabbatai Zevi and Jacob Frank.  Hasidism evolved with the development of “dynasties” led by charismatic rabbis who demand total allegiance from their flock.

Vilna Gaon

Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, also known as the Gaon (genius) of Vilna or the acronym HaGra (“HaGaon Rabbenu Eliyahu”), was born in Sialiec, Belarus in 1720 and died in Vilnius, Lithuania in 1797.  He was a prolific writer on matters of the Talmud, law and Kabbalah but is best known as the leader of the Mitnagdim (opponents) movement (see below).  He encouraged his students to study natural sciences, and translated geometry books into Yiddish and Hebrew, famously saying that Judaism could only benefit from this type of knowledge. When Hasidic Judaism became influential (through proselytism), the Vilna Gaon joined local rabbis in 1777 and again in 1781 in excommunicating Hasids and trying to prevent “inter-marriages”.  The Gaon believed that the main focus of Jewish education should be on the Jerusalem Talmud.

Aryeh Levin

Aryeh Levin was born near Bialystok, Poland in 1865 and passed away in 1969 in Jerusalem. He was also known as the “Tzadik (“saint”) of Jerusalem” for his work on behalf of the poor and the sick.  He attended yeshivoth in Poland and immigrated to Ottoman Palestine in 1905.  In 1931, he was officially appointed Jewish Prison Chaplain and visited Jewish prisoners, often interceding to have their death sentences commuted.  Inmates universally praised the rabbi’s warmth and sincerity, and the honor and respect with which he treated them. He was also known for his visits to the sick at Bikur Holim hospital in Jerusalem and in Bethlehem.  Rabbi Aryeh was asked to mediate an incident where a young child was refused a second portion of chocolate pudding in the school cafeteria and spilled the entire container in anger.  After the young child promised never to do it again, the Rabbi asked him, “Do you really like chocolate pudding?” “Yes,” he answered. Reb Aryeh continued, “I love chocolate pudding too. I brought two containers of chocolate pudding so let us sit down and eat some chocolate pudding together.”   See this article for more stories.

Joseph B. Soloveitchik

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik also known as Rav, was born in 1903 in Pruzhany, Belarus, a descendant of the Soloveitchik rabbinic dynasty. He died in 1993 (aged 90) in Boston, Massachusetts. He grew up in Eastern Europe and attended University in Berlin from 1924 until 1932 when he graduated with a Ph.D. in epistemology and metaphysics.  He then emigrated to Boston where he ran an orthodox school.  In 1941, he became head of the Theological Seminary at Yeshiva University in New York City, succeeding his father.  He ordained over 2000 rabbis over his lifetime and promoted instruction for women.  He sought to combine the best of Jewish scholarship with the best of secular wisdom and is considered the father of Modern Orthodox Judaism.  His best-known work is The Lonely Man of Faith which addresses the need to stand alone in the face of monumental challenges.

Yehouda Léon Askénazi

Rav Yehouda Léon Askénazi, also known as Manitou, was born in Oran, Algeria in 1922 and died in Jerusalem in 1996.  His father was the head rabbi of the city of Oran.  He fought as a soldier in World War II, moved from Algeria to France and developed a vision that bridged the religious and secular worlds, becoming one of the spiritual leaders of 20th century French Jewry along with André Neher and Emmanuel Lévinas.  In 1968, he moved to Jerusalem and opened and ran the Mayanot Jewish Studies Center until 1988.  The focus of his teaching and writing is on the meaning of the identity of Israel and of Biblical, explaining Hebrew concepts and themes through the use of universal terminology.   (essay in French)

Ovadia Yosef

Ovadia Yosef , also known by his arabic name Abdullah Youssef, was born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1920 and passed away in Jerusalem in 2013 at the age of 93.  He emigrated with his family to Jerusalem in 1924.  His family was very poor. He rapidly progressed in religious school while at the same time supporting his family.  He was ordained rabbi at age 20.   He is considered one of the foremost Sephardi Talmudic scholars and rabbinic judges of the last 200 years. He favored so-called “open-source Torah” and the work of 16th Century Rabbi Yosef Karo (see above) as opposed to the closed mystical Kabbalah that has been in favor in the ultra religious community.  In 1973, he was elected Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel.

Yosef attracted criticism during his lifetime and after his death for some of his political and religious views as explained in the 2013 Haaretz articles by David Landau (“The Political Kidnapping of a Torah Phenomenon“) and by Anshel Pfeffer (“The Great Opportunities Missed.”)   The articles ascertain that, despite his personal success, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef was used by the Ashkenazi religious establishment for political purposes. He entered politics when he founded the Israeli Shas party to better represent Sephardi and Mizrahi religious minorities but still failed to make significant differences in the lives of his constituents.

Irving Greenberg

Rabbi Irving Greenberg, also known as Yitz Greenberg, is a Harvard-educated Jewish-American scholar and author who identifies as a Modern Orthodox rabbi. He is known as a strong supporter of Israel, and a promoter of greater understanding between Judaism and Christianity. Wikipedia.  Rabbi Greenberg was born in Brooklyn in 1933.  He founded and led the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership (CLAL) from 1974 through 1997. CLAL is a leadership training institute, think tank, and resource center that links Jewish wisdom with innovative scholarship to deepen civic and spiritual participation in American life.  Rabbi Greenberg is the author of many books and articles.

David Hartman

Rabbi David Hartman was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1931 and passed away in Jerusalem in 2013. He attended Yeshiva under Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik but then pursued philosophy degrees from Fordham and McGill Universities, rejecting what he perceived as the intellectual insularity of Ultra-Orthodoxy.  He served as rabbi in Montreal for 10 years before emigrating to Israel in 1971 and founding the Shalom Hartman Institute in 1976.  His teachings and writings encourage a greater understanding between Israel, the Jewish Diaspora and different Jewish affiliations.  He favored diplomacy with the Palestinians and peace and social justice in Israel. Another post on this blog is devoted to his essay entitled “Auschwitz or Sinai”.  Learn more: Tablet, Jewish Week, and David Hartman’s interview with Krista Tippett.

R. Deborah Brin

Deborah Brin, born in 1953, is one of the first openly gay rabbis and one of the first hundred women rabbis. She was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and led Congregation Nahalat Shalom as their rabbi in Albuquerque, New Mexico for about 10 years. She co-edited the poetry section for the Reconstructionist prayer book KOL HANESHAMAH: Shabbat Vehagim, and has written an article chronicling her experience leading the first women’s prayer service and Torah reading at the Western Wall for the book Women of the Wall.

***

Shalom Italia

Yesterday, I had the great privilege of attending the World Premiere of Shalom Italia, a brand new documentary by Israeli film maker  Tamar Tal Anati, at the American Film Institute Silver Theater in Silver Springs, Maryland.

shalomitaliaThe movie tells the story of the three Anati brothers, ages 73, 82 and 84, who set off on a journey to find a cave in the woods of Tuscany, Italy.  This cave is the place where they remember hiding as children with their entire family to escape the Nazis. Each brother has a different recollection of the events that took place some 70 years ago, and each brother approaches this adventure differently.  This delightful movie overlays the humorous interaction between the three brothers with a reflection on the importance of memories on our lives.

I could not help but draw a parallel with the story of my parents who were both hidden during the war and survived the Holocaust as well.  My father was hidden on a farm, not unlike the three brothers picture in the movie.  My mother lived under and assumed Christian name while her parents lived hidden in a basement.  Like the Anati brothers, my parents owed their lives to the generosity and courage of Christian men and women who protected them during the war.  My mother kept a very close relationship with her saviors, the George family, until her death.  Like the Emmanuel Anati, my parents and my grandmother were always reluctant to speak about this period of their lives, perhaps repressing these memories.

Following the showing, we had the great fortune of having a question and answer session with Tamar, the film maker and with Reuven who traveled for the Premiere. This was a great moment that added to the significance and pleasure of the event.  The movie is expertly edited, and professionally put together. I would highly recommend that you look for any showings in your area.  In the meantime, enjoy the trailer below 🙂

 

33 Great Israeli Jazz Artists…

For a country of some 7.5 million, Israel has a surprisingly large jazz footprint. More and more internationally acclaimed jazz musicians happen to be from the country. [NPR]  Twenty-five or so years ago, the Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts based in Giv’atayim, like many arts magnet schools, became known as a jazz incubator. The Rimon School for Jazz and Contemporary Music started up in 1985, and developed an affiliation with Berklee College of Music in Boston.  Well known U.S. jazz musician Arnie moved to Israel in 1997, where he founded the International Center for Creative Music, an education facility open to both Jewish and Arab students.

A bit of research went into this post.  Click on each artist’s name to play a YouTube sample featuring that artist.  See full length clips in the comment section below. Feel free to add your own.  Enjoy!

 Artist
(Click for music)
———————– Quick Bio
Omer Avital omer avital Omer Avital was born in 1971 in Givatayim to Moroccan and Yemeni parents.  After spending a year in the Israeli Army Orchestra, he moved to New York in 1992 where he began playing, recording and touring professionally.
Or Bareket Or Bareket Or Bareket grew up in Argentina and Israel, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. Or was the 1st Prize winner of the 2011 International Society of Bassists’ Jazz Competition. He has worked with Ari Hoenig, Jean-Michel Pilc, The 3 Cohens, Don Friedman, Eliot Zigmund, Billy Hart, Victor Lewis, David Feldman and many others.
Roni Ben-Hur roni benhur Roni Ben-Hur is an Israeli jazz guitarist who emigrated to the United States in 1985. His parents were originally from Tunisia. His 2004 book, Talk Jazz: Guitar from the Mel Bay Talk Jazz series is now out of print and much sought after by jazz guitarists.
Dekel Bor dekel bor Dekel Bor started playing guitar at age 15 and moved to Copenhagen at the age of 19. At 21, Bor moved to New York to attend The New School on a full scholarship. Bor was seriously injured[1] in a motorcycle accident in August 2015. All of his scheduled performances and appearances were canceled or postponed at that time, at least until spring 2016.
Amir Bresler amir bresler Amir Bresler was born in Rishon-Letzion, Israel on November 8th, 1989. He started his musical education at the age of 13, spending three years with teacher Avi Zehavi and has since studied with Eitan Itzkovitch, and others. In 2010 Amir Joined the world renowned bass player, singer and composer Avishai Cohen, in concerts globally.
Anat Cohen anat cohen In 1996, Anat Cohen studied clarinet and saxophone at the Berklee College of Music. She has also recorded with her brothers Avishai Cohen (trumpeter) and Yuval Cohen (alto and soprano saxophonist). She was voted Clarinetist of the Year in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 by the Jazz Journalists Association
Avishai Cohen (Bassist) avishai cohen b One of the better known Israeli jazz artists, Avishai Cohen was born in 1970 in Kibbutz Kabri. He began playing the piano at 9 years old, but changed to the bass guitar at the age of 14. He eventually moved to New York, and in 1996, joined the Chick Corea sextet Origin. He currently performs with his own group, the Avishai Cohen Trio.
 Avishai Cohen (Trumpet) avishai cohen t Cohen was born in Tel Aviv, Israel. He grew up in a musical family with sister Anat and brother. At the age of eight, he asked his mother for trumpet lessons. As a Teenager Avishai Toured with The Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra.  Avishai went to the Berklee jazz school in Boston and now lives in New York.
Eli Degibri Eli Degibri Eli Degibri was born in 1978 in Yaffo.  Degibri first began playing the mandolin at age 7. In 1994, then 1997, Degibri was selected to receive a full scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music and moved to the U.S.  On August 29, 2013, he released his sixth album, Twelve, featuring Gadi Lehavi, Ofri Nehemya, and Barak Mori.
Daniel Dor Daniel Dor Daniel was born 1986 in Tel-Aviv. While Daniel’s first musical lessons were at the piano, he was fascinated with the drum-set from an early age and began taking private lessons at the age of 10. Daniel’s work is featured on Avishai Cohen’s highly acclaimed new record “From Darkness.”
Shauli Einav Shauli Einav Shauli was born in 1982 in the countryside of Israel and started playing the violin at the age of 4. At 13 he switched to the saxophone and started playing with many Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv based bands. Einav recently relocated to Paris after 7 fruitful years in the vibrant jazz scene of NYC.
Oran Etkin Oran Etkin At age 14, Etkin began his musical studies in Boston with the saxophone. He studied Arabic music in Jerusalem. His exposure to Malian music is also a significant influence, having played in Mali with Toumani Diabaté, Super Rail Band, and Habibe Koité.
Anat Fort Anat Fort Anat Fort was born in 1970 near Tel Aviv. She is an Israeli jazz, pianist and composer who has recorded several acclaimed albums and performed across Europe and the United States.  She moved to New York in 1996 to develop her skills in jazz improvisation under the guidance of pianist Paul Bley and study composition with Harold Seletsky.
Aaron Goldberg Aaron Goldberg Aaron Goldberg was born in Boston. He began taking piano lessons at 7, and started playing jazz when he was 14. In November 2014, Goldberg released The Now, a 10-song album of his own compositions, jazz standards, and reworkings of Brazilian songs.
Gilad Hekselman Gilad Hekselman Gilad is the winner of the 2005 Gibson Montreux International Guitar Competition. He has played all major jazz clubs in New York City including the Blue Note, The Jazz Standard, Dizzy’s Club and Smalls.
Tamir Hendelman Tamir Hendelman Tamir moved to the US at age 12 in 1984, winning Yamaha’s national keyboard competition 2 years later at age 14. Concerts in Japan and the Kennedy Center followed.   In his own trio, he explores standards, Brazilian music, blues and his Israeli roots.
Nitai Hershkovits Nitai Hershkovits Born in Israel to a Morrocan mother and a Polish father, Nitai started playing the clarinet at age 12, only to discover his love for the piano at age 15.  Nitai has been collaborating with internationally acclaimed bassist and composer Avishai Cohen.
Yaron Herman Yaron Herman Yaron Herman was born in Tel Aviv. He moved to Boston, where he intended to attend the Berklee College of Music but rapidly preferred to start his career in Paris. See my post on Herman’s cover of “Lu Yehi” 
Ori Kaplan Ori Kaplan Ori Kaplan is a jazz saxophonist and a music producer who moved from Israel to the United States in 1991.  In 2004 he formed Balkan Beat Box with Tamir Muskat. The band has been touring globally since and has released 4 albums thus far.
Assaf Kehati Assaf Kehati Jazz guitarist and composer Assaf Kehati arrived to the USA from Israel in 2007.  Mr. Kehati has performed at some of the world’s leading venues including the Blue Note; the DC Jazz Festival; MuzEnergo Jazz Festival, Tel Aviv Museum, Barranquilla Jazz Festival; and Toronto Jazz Festival.
Avi Lebovich Avi Lebovich
Avi Lebovich was born in Yahud, Israel and began studying classical piano at age 9. When he reached 13, he switched to the trombone and attended the “Thelma Yellin School of Arts”.  He moved to New York in 1992, where he attended “New School University” and “Mannes College of Music”.
Shai Maestro Shai Maestro

Pianist Shai Maestro was born in Israel on February 5th 1987. He began playing classical piano at the age of 5. Maestro joined Avishai Cohen’s Trio together with drummer Mark Guiliana where he played for 5 years around the globe.  In 2011, Maestro left Cohen’s group to pursue his own career as a band leader.

2015  YouTube: Shai Maestro Trio w. Kurt Rosenwinkel & Avishai Cohen (trp) – Treelogy (Maestro)

Rafi Malkiel Rafi Malkiel Born in Jerusalem in 1972, Malkiel currently resides in New York where he has established himself as a mainstay on that city’s jazz and Latin music.  Malkiel’s critically acclaimed debut album “My Island” features original compositions and his arrangements of popular Latin and jazz classics.
Dan Mayo Dan Mayo Dan Mayo was born in Israel in 1990. He is a drummer, composer and educator well known for his playing and composing with TATRAN, a power-trio with Tamuz Dekel on guitar and Offir Benjaminov on the bass.
Omri Mor Omri Mor Omri Mor was born in 1983 and raised in Jerusalem. He studied classical music at the Jerusalem Rubin Academy of Music. He studied Andalousian-style music with Nino “Elmaghribi” Biton.  He plays regularly in jazz festivals in Israel and abroad.
Ziv Ravitz Ziv Ravitz Ziv Ravitz was born in Beersheba and focused on percussion at the ripe old age of 13.  He lives and works in New York, and recently released the album Everyday with Yaron Herman.
Issi Rozen Issi Rozen Issi Rozen is an Israeli-born jazz guitarist currently residing in Boston, Massachusetts. He has been recognized for mixing traditional middle-eastern and straight jazz elements into his music. In 2002, Rozen began teaching guitar and music theory at Berklee College of Music.
Harold Rubin Harold Rubin Harold Rubin is a South African-born Israeli visual artist and free jazz clarinettist.  He moved to Israel in 1962. Rubin returned to playing jazz in late 1979, having previously given up performance for more than a decade after his emigration from Africa.
Yotam Silberstein Yotam Silberstein Tel Aviv native Yotam Silberstein began playing guitar at age 10. By the age of 21, Silberstein has won the coveted “Israeli Jazz Player of The Year.”  Yotam Silberstein moved to New York in 2005.   He has won the Sundance Time Warner award for film music.
Ofir Shwartz Ofir Shwartz Ofir Shwartz was born in Haifa. He is an Israeli award-winning jazz pianist, composer, arranger and producer.  He is one of the leading Israeli touring musicians.
Asaf Sirkis Asaf Sirkis Asaf was born in 1969 in Petah-Tikva, Israel. At the age of 12 Asaf began drum lessons, while also having a strong interest in playing electric bass. In October 1998, Asaf left Israel and settled in London in April 1999. He soon become part of the UK Jazz and world music scene.
Assif Tsahar Assif Tsahar Assif Tsahar was born in Israel in 1969. He is a tenor saxophonist and bass clarinetist. He has lived in New York City since 1990.  He founded the label Hopscotch Records in 1999. In 2006 he opened the music club Levontin7 with Daniel Sarid in Tel Aviv.
Sam Yahel Sam Yahel

A Hammond B-3 specialist, keyboardist Sam Yahel is a progressive musician with a bent toward mixing expansive post-bop and cerebral organ trio funk . Since moving to New York City in 1990, Yahel has performed and recorded with a wide array of name musicians.  

One of my favorites Sam Yahel pieces

 

Trouble in Israel

West bank settlementA few days ago, the right-wing Israeli political organization “Im Tirtzu” published a slick video clip in which it accused by name four Israeli members of human rights organizations of being “moles” operated by foreign countries to sabotage Israel’s counter-terror efforts (The Times of Israel).  The NGO human rights organizations may receive grants from countries and individuals outside of Israel to promote peace and understanding, but that hardly makes them foreign moles.  In fact, Im Tirtzu, which supports settlements in the occupied West Bank and other Israeli right-wing organizations are themselves funded largely by right-wing U.S. (a foreign country) contributions (Haaretz).

The four individuals portrayed in the Im Tirtzu video work for the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Breaking the Silence featuring Israeli soldiers testifying about malpractices and alleged crimes committed by IDF troops against Palestinians; the Center for Defense of the Individual, which represents Palestinians under Israeli occupation; and B’Tselem, which documents human rights abuses in the territories. (Haaretz)

By naming and showing their faces in the video clip, Im Tirtzu is endangering the lives of these four individuals, using hate speech and inciting their members and the public at large.  But that’s not it.  This is part of an overall campaign by the Israeli extreme right which includes proposed new laws, such as the “transparency law” directed against NGOs.  “These NGOs challenge the authority of the government that has been elected by the people,” said the author of the proposed “transparency law”.  This sounds like Russia, Uganda, China, Egypt, Kyrgyzstan or Burundi (The Washington Post), hardly a group of democratic and desirable countries…

There is trouble in Israel…  Tensions between secular, religious, Ashkenazi or Sephardi Jews are not new, but they are escalating to a point never seen before.  Racism, which led so many Jews to death chambers, is now a real problem in Israel as well. About 60,000 Africans have immigrated there since 2006, fleeing unrest in their home countries. In Israel, these migrants have faced intense racism and persecution by right-wing politicians and activists, and have been branded as “infiltrators”.

Israel is split between a secular, liberal, modern, and economically thriving half, living alongside an ultra-Orthodox, observant, nationalist, and poorer half.  Nearly 70 years after Israel’s independence, the country is debating the meaning of its very existence: is Israel a (religious) Jewish State or a modern country where Jews and Arabs live together?  Is Israel a refuge for the Jews or a country from which they radiate?   Is Israel Auschwitz or Sinai?

Auschwitz or Sinai?

hartman

Rabbi David Hartman

Where to start?  Perhaps with Rabbi David Hartman’s landmark 1992 essay “Auschwitz or Sinai?“.  What drives the Jewish people, and in particular, what drives their feelings towards Israel? In his essay, R. Hartman articulated the dichotomy between what he calls the Auschwitz model and the Sinai model.

The Auschwitz model suggests that a driver of Jewish feelings towards Israel is preservation of the Jewish People.  The state of Israel is there to ensure the perennial existence of our People.   Israel has become the refuge of the Jewish People, and consequently, any action required by the State of Israel to sustain and guarantee the existence of the Jewish People is warranted.  “Never again” is the refrain used by defenders of this  model.

The Sinai model, on the other hand, sees the role of Israel as fulfilling the covenant between God and the Jewish People at Sinai, namely to become a holy people by building a moral and just society.  This call for action is central to the Jewish DNA (more later on this) and to the religious and traditional system that has sustained the Jewish People over the years.   “Torah study is not a substitute for actual life”, says R. Hartman.  This is a purpose greater than establishing a country and a national identity.

Is preservation of the People as in the Auschwitz model a sufficient goal?  Can Sinai be attained from Diaspora, without a national identity, or is the State of Israel a necessary platform?