For many reasons, this has been a monumental week. For those of you who know me well, you know that Tuesday night was pretty exciting in the RB household, and the picture, signed and dated on 9/30/2004, that sits on our entertainment center over the television is just that much cooler (and no, it isn't DH's father - yes, people have asked that... not recently, but they have). And while tonight's festivities aren't quite as meaningful or monumental as the election results, they were still pretty awesome.
Tonight, my place of employment, a synagogue, hosted one of Israel's top (and I mean top) hip hop bands, Hadag Nachash, which, in Hebrew, means "snake fish". Like much of Israeli music, the music is filled with cultural influences from all over the world and is more than just hip hop - it's also a bit of rock, jazz, and funk. The lyrics are rife with political messages, not a surprise from a band whose name can be switched around to spell the word "Nahag Chadash," a new driver. With a leftist political message, Hadag Nachash puts into music the thoughts and hopes of Israel's youth, railing against corrupt politicians, questioning existance in such a dynamic land, and expressing hope for peace.
More than anything else, more than getting to see this band I have followed for years, more than meeting the musicians and getting my brand new t-shirt signed by all but three of the eight member group (so bummed to have missed Shlomi Alon - he makes me miss playing the sax), I watched as hundreds of kids, teens, young adults, and adults pour into a synagogue on a Sunday night to watch the band. Sure, the ark was covered with a tablecloth to help with the allusion that we were in some cool hip club or disco and weren't actually in a place where just yesterday congregants gathered for Shabbat morning services, but really, with the cool funky lighting, you could actually see the outlines of some of the Torah scrolls. The juxtaposition of the holy with the secular was pretty spectacular. Close to 900 (or maybe more - I never did get the final tally) people were swaying, jumping, fist pumping, and dancing to some of my favorite music. Sure, most of it was in Hebrew, so who knows how much of they understood - heck, even with my pretty decent grasp of Hebrew, I still need the lyrics in front of me and a dictionary at my side.
Somehow, I have a feeling that those in the audience, especially those who are in middle school and high school, might just remember this night the next time they open a prayer book on a Shabbat morning. They were exposed, even if not for the first time, to an Israel not relegated to terse reports on CNN or articles about bombs in the newspaper. They saw the Israel that I love - the Israel of great literature, great humanity, and great music.
Rather than go on and on, I thought I'd list some of my favorite Hadag Nachash songs - I'll try not to go on for too long. All of their CDs are available on iTunes, so you can get a taste of even more. I hope you enjoy!
- California (Be'ezrat HaJam, With the Help of Jam) - for obvious reasons! Love the surfer music with Hebrew lyrics :)
- Hine Ani Ba (Be'ezrat HaJam) - it didn't hurt that it was one of the main songs in "You Don't Mess with the Zohan" (I'll admit that one of the big reasons I convinced myself to see the movie was the fact that it had four Hadag Nachash songs in it), but it's a great, upbeat dance song - just fun!
- Shirat HaSticker (the Sticker Song) (Chomer Mekomi, Local Material) - completely co-oped by Jewish educators all over North America, it's a fun song written by Israeli novelist David Grossman, using the slogans of Israeli bumper stickers
- Rak Po (Only Here) (Chomer Mekomi) - a good example of different influences in their music - a song about the very strange existance of living in Israel