Archive for the ‘This You'll Want To Hear’ Category

Israeli Culture Explosion Snuffed Out by Real Blasts

July 10, 2014

This piece first appeared on The Arty Semite blog at the Forward.

Maybe Next Year: Contact Point, which in previous years attracted 5,000 attendees, has been postponed. Photo Credit: Barak Aharon

Maybe Next Year: Contact Point, which in previous years attracted 5,000 attendees, has been postponed. Photo Credit: Barak Aharon

JERUSALEM – Usually, there is an explosion of culture in Jerusalem in the summer. But with Hamas striking Israel with hundreds of rockets and missiles daily, popular arts events in the country’s capital have had to be cancelled or postponed.

When the current war with Hamas broke out early Tuesday, Jerusalemites were not particularly fearful of rockets landing in their city. While one or two sirens went off in Jerusalem during Operation Pillar of Defense in late 2012, the capital was largely spared from missile fire. However, when the wailing siren sounded and was followed by three explosions on Tuesday night, residents realized that things may actually be different this time.

Within minutes of the attack on Jerusalem, authorities ordered that the concert by Israeli rocker Berry Sakharof taking place that evening at the outdoor Sultan’s Pool venue just outside the walls of the Old City be stopped and its 6,000 attendees immediately evacuated.

Large outdoor gatherings, which are traditional during cool Jerusalem summer evenings, are problematic security-wise at a time like this. People have at most a minute and a half to reach shelter when a air raid siren goes off, making it difficult — if not impossible — to hold such events safely.

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© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Matisyahu To Sing With Female Cantor

May 13, 2014

This piece first appeared in The Times of Israel.

Matisyahu on a visit to Israel. (photo credit: courtesy)

Matisyahu on a visit to Israel. (photo credit: courtesy)

The ever-evolving Jewish reggae star Matisyahu will perform on stage with a female cantor for the first time next week in Redondo Beach, California.

The singer, who was a Hasidic Jew and observed kol isha (the religious prohibition for a man to hear a woman’s singing voice) until late in 2011, when he surprised fans by posting online photos of himself sans beard and yarmulke, has sung publicly in recent months with women, but never with a female cantor.

Matisyahu responded positively to an invitation from soon-to-be cantor Jessica Hutchings to sing with her at her senior recital on May 18 at Temple Menorah.

Click here to read more and watch videos.

© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.

Forgotten Siren: From Cairo Diva to Israeli Single Mother

April 30, 2014

This piece was first published in The Times of Israel.

A young Souad Zaki in the recording studio in Cairo. (Courtesy of Moshe Zaki)

A young Souad Zaki in the recording studio in Cairo. (Courtesy of Moshe Zaki)

TEL AVIV — Most people have heard of Egyptian sultry siren Umm Khultum, the greatest female Arabic singer in history who dominated Middle Eastern stages and airwaves from the 1930s to the 1970s and still enjoys widespread acclaim. However, though she too was a prominent singer of popular classical Egyptian music leading up to the 1952 Egyptian Revolution, the same cannot be said of Souad Zaki.

Had political realities been different, Zaki may have become an international singing sensation like Umm Khultum, who picked Zaki to co-star in the hit 1945 film “Salamah.” But as nationalism and anti-Semitism took hold in Egypt, Zaki, a proud Jew and Zionist, left her birthplace and privileged status behind for the life of a struggling immigrant in the young Jewish State.

Thus, just as Zaki’s star was rising in Egypt, she became a cleaning lady at a bank in Tel Aviv.

Click here to read more and watch a video.

© 2014 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.


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