It Took a While, But…Paul McCartney in Israel

It’s not a slow news time, to be sure, but after a conversation with my sister a few days ago, I know what the really big news story is in Israel. It’s not about Ehud Olmert, Tzippi Livni, or any other political or religious figure; it’s about Paul McCartney. Yes, Paul McCartney, whose forthcoming concert in Park HaYarkon on September 25 promises to be the biggest such event in Israel’s history.

As has been reported recently, the Beatles were supposed to visit Israel in the early sixties, but Yossi Sarid’s father (how ironic is that!), who was then the Minister of Culture, vetoed the concert because the Beatles were considered to be a “bad influence” on the country’s youth. It’s straight out of “Footloose.” Something of the anti-rock and roll sentiment from the Elvis years seemed to have rooted in Israel’s socialist leadership back then, and they actually vetoed the concert. When you think about Israeli artists today like Aviv Geffen, it’s hard to believe exactly how puritanical the country was back then. What a blown opportunity!

But in the spirit of “it’s never too late” (although it obviously is, with two members of the band already dead), Paul is helping Israel redeem itself with a concert that has the country in a tizzy. My sister, whom I remember well having posters of the Fab Four on her bedroom wall when we were kids, informed me that she spent five hundred shekel for a standing room ticket! Five hundred shekel! For standing room! And there are expected to be countless thousands of people there, willing to pay that much and obviously much more.

Truth be told, were I there, I would pay it in a heartbeat. With all the issues facing Israel, one more existentially threatening than the other, with all the sorrows and all the disappointments, people like my sister will get to be teenagers again for a few spectacular hours. Already last Friday afternoon, one of the Israeli radio stations was playing a possible set list for the concert, fueling the frenzy.

September 11, Iran, political corruption, deep and painful worries about the future… Hearing “She Loves You” can only be what the doctor ordered.

About the Author
Rabbi Gerald C. Skolnik is the Rabbi Emeritus of the Forest Hills Jewish Center in Queens.