‘Sounds of Israel’ explores the historical context of Israeli music as part of Israel Week


(File Photo/The Daily Campus)

As part of Israel Week, UConn Hillel’s Huskies for Israel sponsored “Sounds of Israel,” a showcase of Israeli music and culture throughout history, on Tuesday night at Hillel. Popular songs of different decades were played and discussed.

Seven songs, each from a different decade, were played for students. Translations of the lyrics from Hebrew to English were available. Huskies for Israel Programming Chair Liah Kaminer discussed the history of Israel, going through major events and common themes of music in each decade. Students could then participate in an activity to determine which song came from which decade based on the lyrics of the song and themes from the decades.

“Song of the Valley,” a patriotic song from 1934, focuses on appreciation for the Israeli people, lakes, fields and more. “It’s a song to say thank you and to say how lucky they are to have Israel,” Kaminer explained. Around this time was the first large movement of European Jews to Israel who brought an egalitarian mindset with them.

Kamier discussed how the 1960’s were focused on military success and patriotism, while the 1970’s focused on music about peace and free love. “People no longer felt threatened by wars,” Kaminer said. Music of the 1980’s also focused on positives because Middle Eastern Jews had finally received equal rights in Israel.

There was a shift from cohesiveness to rebellion in the 1990’s and early 2000’s due to changes in government and distrust of the terrorism rising around them, something which is reflected in the music of this time. For example, “The Bumper Sticker Song” discusses a yearning for peace, gun control and fear of terrorism.

“May We Talk” by Nadav Guedj, a popular artist in Israel today, is a pop song all about love. It shows that contemporary Israel music has transitioned from commenting on society to being catchy and offering a way to relax or escape from daily stress.

“I enjoyed how some of the songs sounded familiar because my parents are from Israel,” sixth-semester molecular and cell biology major Eidan Avner said. “Since I’ve heard some of it before I began picking up how each decade had their own sound and style.”

The connection of music to history helped students gain a better understanding of Israel’s past and which social issues were important to the Israeli people throughout different decades. It was interesting for students to see how artists can be affected by the world around them and use music as an outlet to express their feelings.

“This event helped me learn about some of the history behind Israel and the culture behind various songs,” fourth-semester elementary education major Kylie Schechtman said.

Huskies for Israel is an umbrella of Hillel, the center for Jewish life on campus. The pro-Israel advocacy club is organizing many events throughout the week in honor of Israel Week, a time to celebrate Israel’s history and culture. Israel Week began April 15 and will continue until April 20.

“Israel Week is compiled of a ton of events to celebrate Israel in general and each event focuses on a specific aspect of Israel,” Huskies for Israel president Elizabeth Roffe explained. “Our goal is to engage people and educate them about Israel.”

Some of these specific aspects include food and movies. Hillel has also focused on service to help Israel. They teamed up with UConn Paws and Claws club earlier in the week to make dog toys that are being sent to an animal shelter in Israel.

Yom Ha’atzmaut, the commemoration of Israel’s independence, is today, April 18. To honor Israel’s 70th birthday Huskies for Israel is hosting a celebration in Hillel from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Other events throughout the week include guest speakers to lead discussions about Israeli aid and fallen soldiers in Israel, Shabbat and Good Deeds Day. For more information, students can check Hillel’s website http://www.uconnhillel.org/.

“Connecticut in general has a large Jewish and Israeli population, and as part of the UConn community it’s important to celebrate diversity,” Kaminer said. “Most countries around the world know that our independence day is the 4th of July, so we should be aware of other countries’ independence days as well. Plus it’s fun, and it’s celebrating the birth of a democracy, something we can be proud of.”

Melissa Scrivani is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at melissa.scrivani@uconn.edu.

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