A workshop on juggling identities, included in the #unfinal exam for the course “Music in Israel” taught by Francesco Spagnolo (UC Berkeley Fall 2014).
The metaphor of “juggling multiple cultural identities” used in class resonated so much with the class that I felt I should include this workshop as part of the final exam. The idea is to learn to take metaphors very, very seriously.
More on the course at musicinisrael.wordepress.com.
More on Sara Felder at sarafelder.com.
The influence of Music on a developing Jewish identity
- My background
- Big question: What are the types of themes that emerge in Israeli music that help to forge a unique Jewish identity?
- Oral tradition
- Liturgical music
- Hine Ma Tov
- Diversity of Jewish rituals
- Connection with religious text
- Memoirs of Glikl Hameln
- Zionism & Aliyah
- Kibbutz-style communal singing
- Splendor Bridge
- Connection with Israel
- Sense of belonging in a collective
Summer in Israel
- Unity within diversity
- Diasporic origins of Jewish people
- Endurance & Optimism
- Ruth Behar, An Island Called Home
Russian Jewry: The Effect of Immigration on Israeli Music
- Believed Jews could have arrived in modern day Azerbaijan, Armenia
- Driven out of Western Europe and persecuted in Germany, accepted and Dagestan, Russia around 8th century BCE from Babylon/Iran
- Driven out of Western Europe and persecuted in Germany, accepted invitation to settle in Poland
- Lived in shtetls (small Jewish communities) under halakhah rule
- Muscovite Russia expanded into Eastern Europe, took over Polish Lithuanian lands in 1790s
2. Pale of Settlement
- Catherine II: fearful of dissolution of Russian nationality, autocracy, and orthodoxy; separates Catholic, Jewish populations
- Jews begin adopting language, customs
- BUT life in the shtlets was not good, blamed for rebellions like Decembrist Uprising, etc., double taxation
3. Musical Influences in the Pale
- Gusli: oldest Russian plucked string instrument
- Klezmer: Ashkenazi musical tradition meant to complement liturgical and paraliturgical singing with expressive melodies reminiscent of the human voice
- SHOW VIDEO CLIP #1
- SHOW VIDEO CLIP #2
4. The First Aliyah
- Majority of Jews in the world at the end of the 19th century lived in Russian Empire
- May Laws passed and Jews were xompletely expelled from Kiev and Moscow
- Hibbat Zion: pre-Zionist movement advocating revival of Jewish life and physical development of the land of Israel
- Bilu: movement whose goal was the agricultural settlement (eventually joining Hibbat in founding Rishon LeZion)
- Early conditions were harsh: marshy land, Turk tax, Arab opposition
5. Music in a Foreign Land
- First major influence on music in Israel outside of locale
- Although this performance by singer and actress Tova Piron is from 1947 it is exemplary of the trend of Hebrew lyrics on top of foreign (specifically Russian lyrics)
- SHOW VIDEO CLIP #3
6. Second and Third Aliyahs
- Arrived in the wake of more pogroms before the war, halted during the war, and then arrived again after the British mandate and Balfour Declaration promising a national home for Jewish people
- Collective, agricultural communities that combined a mix of Zionistic and socialist beliefs
7. Purposeful Music
- Haggadah texts (which are used to to set forth the order of the Passover Seder) set to Russian folk styles by Russian born composers like Postolsky’s “We were Pharaoh’s bondsmen in Egypt”
- PLAY ITUNES SONG #1
8. Society of Jewish Folk Music
- Much of its importance lies in the fact that pretty much every organization for the promotion of Jewish music followed its methods: it sought to collect folk songs and harmonize them to aid Jewish composers and promote the R&D of religious and secular Jewish folk music
- Most of them being students at the conservatory there
- SHOW VIDEO CLIP #4
- Joel Engel played a key role in its success as he had already formed an important circle of Jewish musicians
- Founded similar societies elsewhere (Juwal-Verlag in Berlin)
9. Post-Soviet Aliyah
- During the soviet regime, mass emigration was politically undesirable so the only acceptable reason was for family reunification (generally for elders)
- One’s family had to quit their jobs just to apply
- More than a million to Israel b/c US stopped granting unconditional refugee status to Soviet Jews in 1989
- No attempt to assimilate the Eastern Ashkenazi folk music of the Russian Jews who survived the Cold War
10. Unassimilated High Culture
- Danced at Russian discotheques, went out with Russians (could’ve been due to large size w/ neighborhoods of tens of thousands)
- Yet, interestingly enough, according to a study done by Marina Niznik of Tel Aviv University…
11. Russian-Influenced Symphonic Orchestras
- However many have not adopted a new Jewish (Hebrewist) or Middle Eastern style like the Germans Jewish immigrants did to represent their new national identity
- Earlier this year, in June, the Israel Philharomnic Orchestra performed a concert comprised of an all-Russian program
Orchestra of Exiles (2012) is a film by Josh Aronson that revisits the efforts of violinist Bronislaw Huberman in establishing the Palestine Orchestra, an institution that eventually gave birth to the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra. We have studied this fascinating story earlier in the semester, and it is only fitting that The Magnes will be screening the film tomorrow, on our last day of classes. More information here.
Music In Israeli Film: Waltz With Bashir (2008)
Presentation by Claudia Camacho
Directed by Ari Folman
- Born in Haifa, Israel 1962
- Studied at Tel Aviv University in the Department of Film and Television
- His parents were from the Lodz ghetto in Poland and Auschwitz Holocaust survivors
- Served in the 1982 Israel-Lebanon War, basis of the movie
Music By Max Richter
- German-British composer born in 1966
- “Blends classical, electronic, and rock influences”
- All these genres found in Waltz With Bashir
- Ari Folman was listening to Max Richter on repeat when writing the script for Waltz
Waltz With Bashir
- Summary: Waltz with Bashir is an animated documentary film about the director’s experience in the 1982 Israel-Lebanon War. Ari attempts to regain his war memories after a friend tells him about a recurring dream he’s been having.
History behind Waltz With Bashir
- In 1982 Israel invaded South Lebanon after Israel’s Northern border had been bombed for years from the Lebanese territory
- Initial plan: To occupy a 40km zone between Lebanon and Israel to cleanse the missile range used by Palestinians
- Secret Plan: Arik Sharon (Israeli Minister of Defense) wanted to occupy Lebanon as far as Beirut and appoint his Christian Phalangist ally Bashir Gemayel, President of Lebanon to create eliminate threat from the North
- A week after being elected, Bashir was assassinated. The assassination thought to have caused the massacre by the Phalangists at Shabra and Shatila of Palestinian civilians.
- It took 3 days for the IDF soldiers to figure out the massacres were happening and do something. By then it was too late, an estimated 3,000 people were massacred.
“I Bombed Beirut” by Zeev Tene
- “If we go on behaving with our neighbors like we behave with them, there will be in them some hatred built that will be impossible to control.”
- “I hate Germans.”
- His song is politically charged and begs the question how could our government of all governments have been involved in a massacre like this.
- The song puts the Israeli forces in the place of the Nazi’s.
- Concerto No. 5 in F Minor for Harpsichord and Strings by Johann Sebastian Bach
- “The film is about the nature of reality and memory…about recovering facts and trying to work out what is imagined and what’s real” –Max Richter on Waltz with Bashir
- Playing during absurd events of war in which it is not entirely sure whether they are imagined or real.
The Haunted Ocean
- Composed by Max Richter, provides the theme for the movie
- “Is meant to evoke a sort of unresolved, weightless, lost melancholia” along with feelings of guilt and shame for being involved (by proxy) in this act of genocide
- Plays whenever Folman is trying to remember the day of the massacre
- The scenes where the Haunted Ocean plays are really important because there is no dialogue. The music’s job is to express what words cannot.
I chose the movie because it touched on the theme of memory and past and what is usable and what is not. For Ari Folman and many soldiers at Beirut, the memory of the massacre was not a usable memory. The old collective memory of the Holocaust and the new personal memory of the massacre could not exist in the same mind.
Yasmin Levy and the Politics of Performing Sephardic Identity
Inventing Sephardic Traditions from 1492 to the Early Twentieth Century
- Expulsion of Jews from Spain during the Inquisition leads to formation of Sephardic cultural identity through experiences of transnationalism and diaspora
- Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) popular songs surrounded by myth and often falsely thought to have origins in Medieval Spain
- Scholars begin to collect oral musical traditions at the beginning of the twentieth century, categorizing them into romances, life cycle songs, and calendar cycle songs – often adding changes when transcribed
Isaac Levy and the Sephardic Song Revival
- Collects Sephardic popular songs from 1950s and 1970s and publishes several collections of transcriptions and recordings that become the basis for late productions of Sephardic popular music
- Work at Jewish national radio influences orientalist tendency to want to Mediterraneanize Israeli national culture
Yasmin Levy: Performing Sephardic Traditions for the World
- Grew up in Jerusalem and was exposed to a wide variety of cultures and musical practices which she incorporates into her interpretations of her father’s repertoire as well as her original compositions
- Eclectic performance style makes her music easily communicable across cultures and languages, but her blurring of cultural and linguistic distinction removes her output from the nationalist project of her father’s work by framing Sephardic popular music as a tradition intended for all people
Una pastora – Combined Recording of Isaac and Yasmin Levy
Avraham Fried, Ribono shel olam (via Rachel Colwell).