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Arts and Culture

Given that music has the capacity to touch people across cultures and across generations, I’ve assembled some Israeli songs that deal with various themes in Israeli society, many of which are used in programs I’ve developed that address Jewish identity issues of program participants.

Ivri Lider
Bo (Let’s)
(with English subtitles)
This is the song which featured in Eytan Fox’s highly acclaimed movie, Yossi and Jaegger.

Hadag Nachash
Shirat Hastikerim (The Sticker Song) (with English subtitles)

David Grossman wrote a poem utilizing only slogans found on Israeli bumper stickers – HaDag Nachashtook it one step further and put it to music.
For a complete curriculum about The Sticker Song, click here for Gabe Salgado’s excellent module.
Rak Po (Only Here)
(with English subtitles)
Controversial song which speaks of Hadag Nachas’s love-hate relationship with Israel.
Lo Frairim (We are not Suckers)
Eyze Kef (What Fun)
Hine Ani Ba (Here I Come)

Hot Israeli Music
Tikvah – Subliminal
Religion and State Hip Hop
– A battle between Religious and Secular Jews takes place in a most interesting way—a dance-off. (not quite the Jets and the Sharks)
Israeli hip-hop – Miri Ben-Ari
Miri Ben-Ari
is an Israeli born hip-hop violinist who thrills audiences with her unusual and exciting sounds.
Monica Sex—Maka Afora
– Theme from TV show “Florentine”
Mosh Ben Ari—Derech
Beit Habubot—Sigapo
Rami Kleinstein — Winds of War
Yo Ya – Kaveret

Chava Alberstein
(with English subtitles)
The Ladder (with English introduction)

Idan Raichel
Mimakaim – From the Depths

Mikol HaahavotIm Telech
Medabrim Ba Sheket
Milim Yafo Me’ele

Israel through Protest and Peace
Yalla Ya Nassaralah – Frishman and the Pioneers
In My Heart – David Broza and Wisam Murad
Lo Omeret Klum – She Doesn’t Say a Word – Metropoloin (with subtitles)

Israeli Arab/Palestinian Music
DAM, “Born Here”
, Hebrew/Arabic with English subtitles
Palestinian rap group DAM (Da Arab MC’s) created this music video about the life of Palestinians in Israel. They’re from Lod, a town between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, so they’re Palestinians with Israeli citizenship (often called “Israeli Arabs”). They usually rap in Arabic, but they made a Hebrew version of this song with a music video to get their message out to the majority of Israelis who don’t speak Arabic.
Meen Er Habi -Free Palestine

The Eurovision Song Contest is a fascinating way to observe how Israeli society has developed. Even by comparing Israel’s 3 Eurovision winners – Abanibi (1978), Halleluya (1979) and Diva (1998) one can trace the dramatic transformations that have taken place within Israeli society over the last few decades.

2007 : Push the Button – Teapacks
2006 : Together We Are One – Eddie Butler
2005 : Shiri Maimon Time to Say Good-Bye (in English)
2004 : To Believe – David D’or
2002 : Let’s Light a Candle – Sarit Hadad
2001 : Ein Davar – Tal Sondak (16th)
2000 : Same’ach (Be Happy) – Ping Pong (22nd)
1999 : Happy Birthday – Eden (5th)
1998 : Dana International—Diva (WINNER)
1996 : Shalom Olam – Galit Bell (Relegated)
1995 :  Amen – Liora (8th)
1993 : Shiru – Lahaka Shiru (24th)
1992 : Ze Rak Sport – Dafna Dekel (6th)
1991 : Kaan – Duo Datz (3rd)
1990 : Shara Barechovot – Rita (18th)
1989 : Derech Hamelech – Gili and Galit (12th)
1988 : Ben Adam – Yardena Arazi (7th)
1987 : Shir Habatlanim – Datner and Kushnir (8th)
1986 : Yavo Yom – Sarai Tzuriel & Motti Giladi (19th)
1985 : Ole Ole – Izhar Cohen (5th)
1983 : Chai – Ofra Haza (2nd)
1982 : Hora – Avi Toledano (2nd)
1981 : Halaila – Habibi (7th)
1979 : Halleluya— Halav Udvash (Milk and Honey) (WINNER)
1978: Abanibi – Ishar Cohen and AlphaBeta (WINNER)
1977 : A’hava Hee Shir Lishnayim – Ilanit (11th)
1976 : Emor Shalom – Chocolad Menta Mastik (6th)
1975 : At Ve’ani – Shlomo Artzi (11th)
1974 : Natati La Chayai – Poogey (7th)
1973 : Eli Sham – Ilanit (4th)

Israeli Movies
The following Israeli movies are ones which David has screened followed by engaging discussions with audiences of all ages. All of these movies are available for purchase at https://www.israel-catalog.com .

Ha Brua (Bubbles)
Trailer of Eytan Fox’s movie about being gay in Tel-Aviv.

Knafayim Shvurot Broken Wings (2002)
This is a realistic drama that takes place in a middle-class Israeli neighborhood and involves the Ulman family- Dafna and her four children. The father has recently died under trivial circumstances and his death has left the family hurting, and in economic straits. It is the beginning of September, the first day of school. In most families this occasion generates excitement; for the Ullmans it produces one crisis after the other.
As the day starts their stories develop and intertwine. The five-year-old girl suffers from feelings of abandonment, the ten-year-old boy tries to break the world record in the free jump (into an empty swimming pool), the teenage boy has quit school and works handing out flyers disguised as a mouse. The two women try to function as mothers. One of them, however, is herself only 17 years old.

Metallic Blues (2004)
Metallic Blues is a touching and amazing tragicomic road-movie, about two Israeli car dealers who risk it all in search of a better life, only to find out the most unexpected personal and historical truths. The opportunity of a lifetime has crossed paths with Shmuel and Siso; or so they think. They invest US$5,000 in a vintage 1985 Lincoln Continental Limousine and plan to sell it in Germany for $50,000. They ship the car to Germany, and bring themselves and their dreams to Hamburg where their nightmare begins. Meanwhile, Shmuel experiences a very disturbing hallucination. The family stories of the Holocaust are taking over his mind? A film about friendship and reconciliation surrounded with the memories of the dark days in the history of Germany and Israel.

LaLehet Al HaMayim – Walk on Water (2004)
Eyal, an Israeli Mossad agent, is given the mission to track down and kill the very old Alfred Himmelman, an ex-Nazi officer, who might still be alive. Pretending to be a tourist guide, he befriends his grandson Axel, in Israel to visit his sister Pia. The two men set out on a tour of the country during which, Axel challenges Eyal’s values.

Medurat Hashevet – Camp Fire (2004)
The year is 1981. Rachel Gerlik a 42 year-old widow, mother of two beautiful teenage daughters, Esti and Tami, wants to join the founding group of a new religious settlement in the West Bank. The problem is that the acceptance committee won’t accept her unless she remarries and proves that she and her daughters can meet the group’s religious and ideological standards. When Tami, Rachel’s youngest daughter, is accused of seducing some boys from her youth movement, Rachel is forced to weigh her alliances. Only Yossi, a 50 year-old bachelor, and the new man in Rachel’s life, can show Rachel that being an outcast is not as bad as it seems.

HaKala Ha-Surit – Syrian Bride (2004)
Mona’s wedding day is the saddest day of her life. She knows that once she crosses the border between Israel and Syria to marry Syrian TV star Tallel, she will never be allowed back to her beloved family in Majdal Shams, the largest Druze village in the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel since 1967. The Syrian Bride is a story about physical, mental and emotional borders and the will to cross them. A story about a family trying to cope with its ability to define boundaries and deal with them focusing on Mona’s sister Amal, a modern woman trapped in a tradition and culture she wants to break out of. Once you cross the border there is no way back and at the end of a long day, the family, the Government and Military Officials and all those gathered on both sides of the border find themselves facing an uncertain future, trapped in no-man’s land between Israel and Syria…

Sof Ha Olam Smola – Turn Left at the End of the World (2004)
The setting is the late sixties, in a tiny, isolated Israeli village. Two immigrant families, one from Morocco and the other from India become neighbors. They share nothing but a dream. As they are forced to live together, the two wary communities attempt to build a sense of identity. In order to assert their imperial identity, the Indians from the village put together a rag tag cricket team. The Moroccans, who take the game as an act of snobbery, do their utmost to be disruptive. Meanwhile, each family has a teenage daughter negotiating the landscape of the sexual revolution. When the sultry Moroccan Nicole and the heady Indian Sara become friends, their youth and desire for freedom help them overcome prejudices. In this isolated place, the road to harmony twists joyfully and surprisingly.

HaAsonot Shel Nina – Nina’s Tragedies (2003)
Birth. Death. Life. Love. Marriage. Divorce. Infatuation. Passion. Joy. Heartbreak. And dancing Hassids! Welcome to the topsy-turvy world of Nina’s Tragedies, writer/director Savi Gabizon’s serio-comic look at an Israeli teenager’s coming-of-age and his attraction to his beautiful but emotionally fragile Aunt Nina. After Haimon is killed in a terrorist attack, Nadav is asked by his wild, recently divorced mother Alona (ANAT WAXMAN), to move in with her sister, Nina (AYELET JULY ZURER), to provide comfort while Nina mourns the death of her new husband, Haimon. Nadav is only too happy to comply, as he’s infatuated with his stunning aunt, with whom he shares a special friendship–not to mention a secret, adolescent crush.The sensitive Nadav eventually finds his way, forced to mature quickly and irrevocably, as the fallible, often disappointing adults around him go through their own growing pains. By turns profound and whimsical, sexy and surprising, Nina’s Tragedies is ultimately about unconditional acceptance–and the power of love to heal.

Or – My Treasure (2004)
A complex mother-daughter relationship story in modern-day Tel-Aviv, Israel. Or (Dana Ivgy) is a 16-year-old girl who does all she can to support her mother, Ruthie (Ronit Elkabetz), a sick and aging prostitute. The film takes great care in showing the taxing daily routines of Or’s life: recycling loose cans, washing dishes in a local restaurant, and going to school when she can. Her ultimate goal is to earn enough money so that her mother never has to walk the streets again. Or even finds a housekeeping job for her mother in hopes that she’ll stop turning tricks. It soon becomes clear that Or must assume all of the strains and responsibility of the household to help her poor mother, and thus the traditional roles of parent and child are reversed.

Tichye Vetihiye – Live and Become (2006)
Salomon was nine years old, living in a desperate refugee camp in Sudan. In late 1984, there was a covert Israeli-American operation to save Ethiopian Jews, known as Falashas, by airlifting them to Israel. The Falashas, are a small branch of the Diaspora. But as they lined up for their exodus, Salomon’s mother tells him firmly to “go, live and become”, the title of the movie. She saw in the exodus an opportunity for her son to escape the death, disease, famine and civil war that were ravaging Ethiopia. Salomon’s mother would stay behind.

Aviva Ahuvati – Aviva My Love (2006)
Aviva, a hard-working hotel cook in the small northern Israeli town of Tiberias, is on the brink of finally fulfilling her lifelong dream. For years she kept her remarkable writing abilities under wraps, until her sister, Anita, introduces her to Oded, an accomplished novelist. Immediately recognizing Aviva’s talent, Oded takes her under his wing, promising to help her achieve greatness. But the journey to greatness effects her life and the lives of her family – her unemployed husband, her trouble children, her unstable mother, and primarily her sister, a funny and sensitive woman who have her own dreams. When Aviva discovered that Oded has other plans for her work, her world collapses.

HaHesder – Time of Favour (2000)
Time of Favor is a timely, gripping thriller. Pini, a brilliant young settler, takes the teachings of his charismatic rabbi literally, and masterminds a violent plot to assume Jewish control of the Temple Mount by blowing up the Dome of the Rock mosque. Menachem is Pini’s best friend and rival for the rabbi’s daughter, Michal, whose father has planned for her to marry Pini. Menachem is an army officer in the Hesder Yeshiva program, which combines yeshiva studies with service in a combat unit. When he discovers Pini’s plot, Menachem’s allegiances are put to the test.

HaUshpizin – Ushpizin (2004)
An Israeli drama with humour set in the customarily closed world of ultra-Orthodox Jews. Moshe and Malli, a married couple, are suffering through a financial crisis and so naturally they pray for help, but instead of a miracle two suspect strangers with criminal pasts appear on their doorstep. The film is reportedly the first made by members of the Israeli ultra-Orthodox community that is aimed at a general audience.


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