Last Thursday and Friday something wonderful happened. For 26 hours babies, young children, teens, young adults and not so young adults all gathered to remember the music of the ’60s and the legendary Woodstock Festival celebrating 50 years at Hitorerut’s Jerustock event produced by Serenity Productions. Organizing such an event was challenging to say the least but approaching artists to participate in a festival of love was the best part.
Old-timers and young timers all spent weeks preparing music from bands and singers such as Country Joe and the Fish, The Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Arlo Guthrie and more. Many of the young Israeli artists had no idea who some of these singers were and soon discovered the magic of the era as they entered the world of the flower children.
The festival began with young singers attempting songs by CSN and Joni Mitchell not realizing that that was harder than they imagined. David Gindis announced that he was about to play music from his favorite singer that he just discovered the week before; Mr. Arlo Guthrie. Steve Rodan of the John Hock Blues Band shared the delicate chore of practicing the shout of “Marijuana” in unison with his band followed by the music of Country Joe and the Fish who was to Steve’s surprise Jewish and raised speaking Yiddish in his home. Aryeh Naftaly began his set with his Elevators band playing The Grateful Dead speaking about Jerry Garcia’s tragic fall into heroin addiction that eventually took his life stealing from us many more years of incredible music. Aryeh who only a few months before lost his home in the devastating fire that took over Mevo Modiin performed with the joy of a teenager and the skill of an accomplished musician along with his amazing band. Miraculously his music studio with all of his instruments was spared from the raging fire.
The Alma Power Trio finished Thursday’s line up with their rendition of Jimi Hendrix. Arriving right before their set from Tel Aviv, Yonaton the leader of the band shared how Lazer Lloyd searched for them to front his show at Levontin 7 in Tel Aviv which was an honor he and his band could only have dreamed of.
As the music faded Thursday night and the speakers were turned off and over twenty young musicians gathered around the campfire to play beautiful music in Hebrew and in English until 4 am. People camped out in tents or under the stars and awoke to yoga on the stage before the music began. By 10 the performances started up again with young Israeli singers playing a combination of Joni Mitchell, The Beatles, Leonard Cohen and more, mixed with their original songs. By the afternoon The Elevators completed their set and welcomed Jerusalem’s own Tamar and Natanel performing a combination of Simon and Garfunkel and their own music loved by all.
Thanks to Charlie Sofer, the children had dozens of juggling sticks, hula hoops, juggling balls and more to play with keeping them occupied while their parents enjoyed the music. Anna Wistrich painted faces and The Tie Dye party created colorful shirts while children played in the baby water pool and with the many toys strewn around the Silo as is typical for this unusual oasis in the center of Jerusalem.
One mother shared that her 7-year-old daughter told her that this was the best day of her life. Ted, a 70-year-old young man who attended the original Woodstock got up on stage to share his experiences and to express his excitement at visiting Israel only to find this special event to attend. Half a dozen over 70-year-olds came up to me with excitement in their eyes thanking us for making this happen and the younger musicians all thanked us for not shutting down the event at 11pm as is customary in Jerusalem.
Our special guest Reb Yankele Shemesh rose to the occasion sharing his experiences in the original Woodstock and spoke about light without vessels during that harrowing time and the need for vessels in our days to contain the light and direct it where it is most needed. Yankele joined Reb Colman to finish off the event with a sweet musical Kabalat Shabbat.
I believe that this smokeless and alcohol-free event created a sense of serenity and love throughout the festival. Serenity Productions was honored to partner with Hitorerut to make this event happen and looks forward to our next event: “Jerusalem Cabaret” set for September 24th at the Silo Cafe. Important to mention that without Hanan Mar’s vision in creating Café Silo events such as this one and others simply could not happen in central Jerusalem. Thank you Hanan!!