Let’s face it – when it comes to Israel, everything is complicated. Politics are complicated, religion is complicated, democracy is complicated, the conflict is complicated. Even our complications are complicated. These are the things that take us out to the street. That make us shout, and cry. That fill us with hope, and – just as often – plunge us into utter despair. But there is (seemingly) one island within Israeli society that escapes complexity, and brings us together more than it divides us: Israeli music. Or so, at least, we thought.
In this special mini-series, we set out to explore Israeli society – warts, rifts and fuzzy togetherness alike – through the stories of some of the country’s most iconic tunes.
Mishy Harman talks to Mitch Cohen, the International Director of Ramah Camps and to author David Grossman, the winner of the 2017 Man Booker International Prize, to understand what is so unifying about Israeli music. He then checks out their theories with David Broza who discusses his 1991 hit song Mitachat La’Shamayim (‘Under the Sky’).
There is one song that has accompanied Israel from the very start. It is sung by children at school ceremonies, politicians at state affairs, athletes at sporting events and soldiers at military marches. But that song doesn’t mention G-d, the Bible or any triumph of modern Israeli history. Zev Levi takes us on a journey through the origins of Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem, and examines who it represents, and – importantly – who it leaves out.
The original music in this mini-series was composed, arranged and performed by the Mixtape Band, led by Ari Jacob and Dotan Moshanov, together with Ruth Danon, Eden Djamchid and Ronnie Wagner-Schmidt. The final song is a 1950s Tunisian rendition of HaTikvah sung by M. Cohen.
The episode was recorded by Russell Castiglione and Josh Piel at the Dubway Studios in New York, and mixed by Sela Waisblum. It is based on Israel Story’s latest live show tour, “Mixtape.”
Thanks to Rabbi Joy Levitt, Sheila Lambert, Megan Whitman, Amanda Crater, Matt Temkin, Megan England, Sam Brunswick and Philip Sandstrom of the JCC Manhattan, to Robin Mancoll, Art and Annie Sandler, Naty Horev, Melissa Eichelbaum, Gregg Damanti and all the folks at the Virginia Arts Festival and the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, and to Ben Murane, Lily Shaddick and Leah Breslow of the New Israel Fund Canada, alongside Peter Fehlhaber, Lynn and Aubrey Kauffman, Elisa and Gil Palter, Hanoch Piven, Igor Beregovsky, Naomi Schneider, Ali Ottman, Rachel Misrati, Izi Mann, Guy Arieli and Ilan Ben-Zion.