If there’s one thing I’ve learned from hosting a music radio show for 20 years, it’s this:
Music is amazing.
Music can transport us to another time or place, evoke memories we had long forgotten, bring us to tears or put a huge smile on our face. Music brings us together; it unites us in ways virtually no other medium can. Who doesn’t remember the songs that were playing on the radio during a particularly memorable summer in their life? Our first kiss? The loss of a loved one? A significant moment in world history?
For good or for bad, Israel has certainly had its share of significant moments…sometimes more than we care to remember. Operation “Protective Edge” is no exception. Since June 12th, we’ve been through quite a lot as a nation. From the day we learned of the kidnapping of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali, z”l, we’ve shared prayers and hopes for their safe return, shed many, many tears at their funerals, feared for our lives and the lives of loved ones through the barrage of rockets aimed at Israeli cities nationwide, held our collective breath with cautious optimism as the IDF began its latest war on terror, and grieved over the loss of far too many Israeli soldiers.
And throughout it all, music has been there.
Since the start of the campaign, Israeli artists have released some beautiful songs to help us cope. Songs of hope, songs of optimism, songs of love for Eretz Yisrael and its brave soldiers. Here are a few notable tunes that have served as a soundtrack to the war over these past few weeks:
Sarit Hadad – Yachad Nenatze’ach (Together We Will Win)
With its catchy tune, irresistible lyrics, a lively children’s choir, a battle cry of “Am Yisrael Chai” and a few notes of Hatikvah thrown in for good measure, Sarit Hadad’s new hit could very well become the unofficial anthem for the war. “Together we will win, together we will remain / During stormy days, we will overcome / And the hope in the heart will go with us always / Only together we will win, together we will remain.” The images in the video clip are pretty inspiring too.
Eyal Golan – “Shmor Alav” (Watch Over Him) and
Sagiv Cohen & Agam Buchbut – “Birkat Haderech” (Blessing of the Journey)
In times like these, even the most secular among us tend to think just a bit more about God and religion…and as Israel’s children march off to war, worried relatives (and all of us, for that matter) pray for their safety and well-being. These songs provide us with just a bit of inspiration during this difficult time. With his finger always on the pulse of the country, Eyal Golan delivers a soulful prayer for our soldiers to be guarded and protected – and guided toward their safe return home. Sagiv Cohen and 9-year old superstar Agam Buchbut, on the other hand, derive their lyrics from various ancient Jewish texts (Deuteronomy, Psalms, etc.) to create a beautiful, stirring message of hope for our chayalim: “God will guard your goings and comings for all eternity…Blessed are you when you go and blessed are you when you come”. If for no other reason, listen to this one just to hear the angelic voice of Agam Buchbut, second-season winner of Channel 2’s hit reality series, “Music School”.
Ovadya Chamama & Gad Elbaz – “T’fila L’shlom Chayalei Tzahal” (Prayer for the Welfare of the IDF Soldiers)
Since the start of Operation Protective Edge, I’ve begun my weekly radio program with this powerful rendition of a prayer recited each Shabbat in synagogues throughout the world. Though many of us have been saying these words for years, they’ve suddenly taken on a whole new meaning: “May the Holy One preserve and rescue our soldiers from every trouble and distress…and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor.” What else can I say but – “Amen”!
Ariel Horowitz – “Esrim Elef Ish” (20,000 People)
Wow…just wow. Texas-born Sean Carmieli was the first “lone soldier” killed since the ground operation began in Gaza. With little family in Israel, many feared that Sean’s funeral would attract only a small number of people. As a result, tens of thousands of Israelis showed up in Haifa to accompany him to his final resting place and pay him the respect he deserved. Moved by this strong display of national unity, Ariel Horowitz quickly penned this amazing song. “20,000 people, and you are the first. 20,000 people are behind you, Sean…[You have] two sisters, 20,000 brothers.” Chills.
Sara Merson – “One Day”
Okay, so it’s not officially Israeli music…but if you haven’t yet heard Sara Merson’s gorgeous cover of Matisyahu’s “One Day”, listen NOW. Originally from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Sara has taken the internet by storm with a video featuring her soothing voice accompanied by not-so-soothing images from the war-torn city of Ashdod, where she is currently living. Learn more about Sara and her video here.
What Israeli song speaks to YOU during this time of war? Comment below!
Want more? Tune into “The Israel Hour” radio program this Sunday (August 3) for an hour of music inspired by the current situation in Israel. Listen live at 18:00 Israel time / 11:00 am Eastern, online at wrsu.org.