I Believe in Israeli Culture
Sixty percent of the music in my iTunes library is Israeli. From time to time I'll listen to an American song, but the vast majority of my music listening takes place in Hebrew. I began collecting Israeli music during my senior year of high school when my aunt sent me an album by an Israeli rap duo called Subliminal and the Shadow. My collection gradually grew, and now every year when I am in Israel I make a pilgrimage to a Tower Records where I carefully select five or six new albums. It is probably my main hobby. Part of the reason I have so much music (over 1200 songs) is that I have a weekly Israeli radio show, but it also goes deeper than that. I love the Hebrew and I love being able to connect in a deep way to Israeli culture. It gives me serious street cred with the Israelis I meet in my travels. And I love being able to stay connected to Israeli culture via my iPod as I work out at the gym, walk around campus, and go about my very American life.
Last night was one of those rare occasions where my love of Israeli music gets to explode into the public sphere - a concert in suburban Boston by Eyal Golan, a famous singer. No English was spoken by anyone working at the concert, including the singer, and in a plain liberal arts school auditorium that is usually home to college productions of Oklahoma!, a crowd of rowdy Israelis and Israeli culture-philes like myself danced and sang and had a party.
A few of Golan's songs talk about God and at one point while talking he said "God willing." Shortly after he burst into "Anachnu Maaminim," "We Are Believers," an upbeat religious song that is guaranteed to make an Israeli crowd, no matter how irreligious, jump in a frenzy and sing together about "our father in heaven." It was then, as I bounced and belted out and pointed towards the sky, that I realized something fundamental about what draws me to Israeli music and to Israeli culture more broadly. That God he was talking about, that father in heaven we were all singing to, was the very one that I believe in. American musicians talk about God fairly often (see Grammy acceptance speeches for proof), and while that God isn't not my God (except when they're talking about Jesus), it also isn't exactly my God. Eyal Golan's God is mine, the Jewish God. Israeli music and culture is refreshing for that reason; to feel no fundamental incongruity or separateness from the culture- it's like a breath of fresh air.
Posted by: tutunex | March 3, 2009 11:38 AM
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