Jewsic Outside

I am so grateful that I know how to play music, and the warmer weather just illustrates that more and more. Recently, my campus’ Hillel hosted an educational Shabbat where we held an explanatory sabbath service for one of the religion classes, as well as anyone else who wanted to come learn about Judaism. For this service, I brought one of my guitars and played musical renditions for a couple of prayers. After the service ended, the weather was nice, so a couple of us from the service hung around on campus and sang some songs for a little.

This story, along with other personal experiences makes me think that there’s something about warm weather that is just more musical. When it’s nice outside, there are always people hanging out on and off campus making music. I’ve seen people in parks, in their front yards, and even on roofs, just chilling with some instruments and having a good time. Just this past weekend I was hanging out with some friends and we just decided it would be great to jam out because the weather was so nice and we were on a big porch. We quickly ran to my house and picked up a bunch of my instruments to head back and start playing. We ended up playing for a couple hours and everyone had such a great time. You can see a short video one of my friends took of us playing “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind below.

The weather recently has been amazing, and I highly suggest you grab an instrument, head outside, and enjoy some homemade music along with the sun. Shalom, for now!

Expanding Jewsical Libraries

This week I am going to try and expand your Jewsical knowledge through sharing some of my favorite songs that fall under my definition of Jewsic. My last post was about the band The Angelcy, so I will not include them in this post, but if you are looking for new music, they should definitely be on your list to listen to.  The first song that I am going to show you is a live version of the song”Angel” by a man named Omer Netzer. One of my Israeli friends recently told me about him, and I enjoy his music very much. He has a really great voice, I like his lyrics, and I am always biased towards songs and artists who use acoustic guitars. He is considered a folk musician and I highly recommend looking him up.

 

The next song I will be talking about is by Matisyahu, who you may have heard of. Matisyahu is known for mixing Judaism with reggae and started off his career as a practicing Hassidic Jew, though he has changed his look since then. In 2011 he shaved the beard that he was so recognized for and wrote the following on his website:  “No more Chassidic reggae superstar. Sorry folks, all you get is me…no alias. When I started becoming religious 10 years ago it was a very natural and organic process. It was my choice. My journey: to discover my roots and explore Jewish spirituality—not through books but through real life. At a certain point I felt the need to submit to a higher level of religiosity…to move away from my intuition and to accept an ultimate truth. I felt that in order to become a good person I needed rules—lots of them—or else I would somehow fall apart. I am reclaiming myself. Trusting my goodness and my divine mission. Get ready for an amazing year filled with music of rebirth. And for those concerned with my naked face, don’t worry… you haven’t seen the last of my facial hair.” The song I am going to share with you, though, is one of his earlier songs that actually made it to the top 40 in the US, “King Without a Crown.”

 

This week I am going to share one more song with you all. This song is not necessarily one of my favorites because of how it sounds, but because of the memories I have associated with it. When I was in Israel on my Birthright trip, the song “Tel Aviv” by Omer Adam featuring Arisa was played right as we were heading towards the city of Tel Aviv and the feeling was so special. It is a cool song that I will still listen to sometimes to get the feeling of being in Israel and to bring back the memories of such a beautiful city. I hope you enjoy this song, and my other recommendations as much as I do. Shalom, and have a great week!

The Angelcy

Shalom, friends. This week I am going to take it back a notch from last week’s emotional post and talk about one of my favorite Israeli bands, The Angelcy. This band, in my eyes, is considered Jewsic even though they do not necessarily have anything to do with Judaism aside from being from Israel. This band has such a unique sound and a variety of influences like “old blues (“Roots of the Blues” and “Blues primitive”), reggae, folk-rock, progressive rock, gospel and Westerns music , folk music from Greece and the Middle East, music cabaret and gypsy music and is influenced by a wide range of artists including Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits , Bob Dylan and more” as stated in their biography from Wikipedia.

The Angelcy is made up of multiple musicians, including frontman, singer, writer, guitarist,  and ukulele player Rotem Bar-Or. Maya Lee Roman plays the viola, Uri Marom plays the clarinet and flute, Aner Paker plays the bass,  Udi Noar plays the drums and is the sound engineer.

What makes this band so unique, aside from its sound, is that when they were first starting, they focused more on their live shows and building their audience and fandom than anything else. They were extremely popular and sounded great live, which led to the radio station Galgalatz playing their songs “Dreamer” and “My Baby Boy” even though they did not have any public relations and didn’t try to get them there themselves.

I was first introduced to this band at the Jewish camp I worked as the music specialist at by my friend Shani, who was the Israeli specialist at the time. After listening to them for a little, they sort of dropped off of my musical radar when I went back to school until I went on my Birthright trip to Israel. It was there that I met a different Shani who brought them back into my life and I have kept listening to them ever since.

I would like to leave you guys with two of my favorite songs by The Angelcy, “Giant Heart” and “My Baby Boy,” as well as the suggestion that you take the time to listen to this band and check them out yourselves.

Salaam

This week, I am going to use my blog post to address the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States. For those of you who do not know, since January there have been at least 100 bomb threats towards Jewish Community Centers and schools all across the US. They started on January 9th when 15 different Jewish Community Centers and schools received threats, followed by more on the 18th, the 31st, and February 20th. The most recent set of threats came last Monday, February 27th, where 31 bomb threats were called in to 23 Jewish Community Centers and schools. These threats have been received in 81 different locations across 33 states. 

This is all extremely troubling and upsetting to me, but I know I cannot let it get me down. I am proud of my Jewish heritage and I am not afraid to let the world know. I will also not let it turn me into a violent person. It is imperative that instead of focusing on the hate and retaliating with violence, we need to focus on peace and loving each other more than ever. That is why this week I have recorded a cover of the song “Salaam” to share with you all.

 

“Salaam” is one of my favorite Jewsic songs due to its beautiful message. Just like “Hinie Ma Tov” it only has a few lyrics, but they have so much meaning to me. Originally the song is seen as a call for peace and a call to end the Arab-Israili conflict. In Hebrew, the lyrics are

“.עוד יבוא שלום עלינו ועל כולם סלאם עלינו ועל כל העולם” These lyrics are pronounced, “Od yavo shalom aleinu. Ve’al kulam. Salaam. Aleinu ve’al kol ha olam.” The song has two parts, the verse (from od yavo to ve’al kulam) and the chorus (from salaam to olam). The verse translates to “Peace will come upon us, yet. And upon everyone,” and the chorus translates to “Peace. Upon us and upon the whole world.” What I really love about this song, is that the first verse uses the word “shalom,” which is peace in Hebrew, while the chorus and title of the song use the word “Salaam,” which is the Arabic word for peace. To me, this song symbolizes the unity, peace, and love that can be achieved eventually, and hopefully soon.

 

This has been an emotional few months since January for me when it comes to my Judaism. This song represents how I still believe we can achieve peace and unity, as well as the fact that I will never hide my Judaism. I will continue to be proud of who I am and what I believe. I hope you enjoy the song. Salaam.