As anyone who has spent time in Israel will know, whenever there is beautiful Hebrew music on the radio for extended periods of time, it usually means something sad has happened. It is called “Memorial Day music.” This Chanukah radio stations are playing the beautiful music of Arik Einstein following his untimely death on the eve of the holiday.
Much has been written and indeed heard about how his music symbolised the modern Jewish State. Millions of Israelis have grown up with, and been effected by, his music as was witnessed by the outpouring of national grief witnessed this week. His music and lyrics represented the, “good old Land of Israel.”
“Sunset from Tel Gezer” (C)2013, Tuvia Book
A couple of nights ago, I was on a night hike in the Judean Mountains. After walking for a while and enjoying the peace I began to hear the sounds of guitar and young voices drifting across the stillness of the night. As I drew closer to the source of the music I saw a group of Bnei Akiva teenagers sitting around a campfire singing songs of Arik Einstein under the canopy of the stars. Some of the boys were extremely talented guitarists and the girls had beautiful voices. The eager young faces were reflected in the light of the bonfire. It was a special Israel moment. These youngsters reminded me of the lyrics of another Israeli music great, Naomi Shemer:
I saw many beautiful things…I didn’t believe my eyes when I saw such magic, Rachel’s songs and stars outside like a thousand years ago on the kibbutz with all the light and all the freedom I saw with my eyes. I suddenly met in the corner the old “Eretz” (Land), the beautiful and the forgotten Israel, and she stretched out her hands to give and not to take.”
They were memorialising the fallen cultural giant through his music. A very Israeli Shiva. Binding up his memory with the Land and with his music. I was magnetically drawn to the circle and joined sat and sang the songs of my childhood and the many milestones in my life and connection to Israel. Thus time seemed to stand still as we sat and sang Arik’s songs of Israel in the Judean hills.
Suddenly I want to go home…and laugh…Give me a piece of Mount Tabor and a piece of the Kinneret. I love to fall in love with my little land of Israel , warm and charming.”