Idan Raichel: Israel’s Good-Will Ambassador

Recently I attended my fourth Idan Raichel Project concert. The incredibly participatory audience left the performance feeling energised and with a glow of enthusiasm for Israeli culture.  The Projects’ blend of African, Latin American, Caribbean and Middle Eastern sounds, coupled with a spectacular live show, has enchanted audiences worldwide.  Indeed the Idan Raichel Project has boldly gone to geographical locations no other Israeli performers have gone before.  This trail-blazing enterprise has helped raise global awareness to a sound that reflects our Zionist state’s multi-ethnic and tolerant makeup that exists beyond the headlines.

Photo (c) 2013, T. Book

In an intimate dialogue with a smaller group at which I was present, Raichel said that he considered it a great honour to bring a taste of Israel to other countries.   When asked by the New York Times why he has so many Biblical lyrics in his songs he replied:

I use the Bible because all the most important and beautiful things have already been said, so that the best that I can probably do is repeat them…there is simply no greater love song than what you find in the Book of Psalms.

Raichel’s infectious enthusiasm for the multi-cultural and multi-ethnic melting pot represented by the State of Israel is reflected in his music. Usually the first thing that enters people’s minds upon hearing the word “Israel” is, “conflict” (or falafel). Israel needs to move its image beyond the conflict.  The Project, and the positive energy and good will that it globally disseminates, make it one of Israel’s most effective ambassadors.  The Hasbara value is priceless.

Yet with all the talk about globalism and world music Idan Raichel is very clear that home is where the heart is, and his heart is very much in Israel.  Having served in the IDF himself, which he refers to as a “basic ingredient” to “Israeliness,” he made a very moving observation about the two-minute silence during Memorial Day (Yom Hazikaron):

I think that those two minutes truly reflect the Israeli way of life, the Israeli pride, our longing and sadness, our concern for and about the future, our patriotism and our mutual destiny. Those two minutes truly show what all Israelis have in common, if it’s our lives in the present, or the respect we have for our past. To me, those two minutes sharpen our minds and are the epitome of Israeli society.

 

About the Author
Dr. Tuvia Book was born in London and raised in both the UK and South Africa. After making Aliya at the age of 17 and studying in Yeshiva he volunteered for the IDF, where he served in an elite combat unit. Upon his discharge he completed his BA at Bar-Ilan University, as well as certification in graphic design. He then served as the Information Officer at the Israeli Consulate of Philadelphia, while earning a graduate degree in Jewish Studies. Upon his return to Israel, Dr. Book graduated from a course of study with the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, and is a licensed tour guide. Tuvia has been working in the field of Jewish Education, both formal and informal, for many years. He has guided and taught Jewish students and educators from around the English-speaking world for some of Israel’s premier educational institutions and programs. Tuvia has been guiding groups for Birthright Israel since its inception and, in addition, has lectured throughout North America, Australia, Europe and South Africa. Tuvia served as a Shaliach (emissary) for the Jewish Agency for Israel as the Director of Israel and Zionist Education at the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York (Jewish Education Project). He was a lecturer/educational guide at the Alexander Muss Institute for Israel Education (AMIIE) in Israel for a decade. Tuvia has lectured at both Bar Ilan University and Hebrew University. He is the author (and illustrator) of the internationally acclaimed Zionism curriculum; “For the Sake of Zion; A Curriculum of Israel Education” (fifth edition, 2017, Koren) and is at present working on his next book, a history of the Jewish people. Tuvia has a doctorate in Israel education. His dissertation title is: “Through the Soldiers’ Eyes: Exploring the Influence of a Birthright Mifgash on the Israeli Soldier Participants.”
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