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Adventures in Jewish Studies

The Association for Jewish Studies Podcast

Episode 19: Israeli Pop Music


Jeremy Shere: Even if you know only a few Israeli songs, you probably know this one: 

 (opening verse of “Jerusalem of Gold” plays)

Yerushalayim Shel Zahav, or “Jerusalem of Gold,” by Naomi Shemer. It’s one of the most popular Israeli songs of all time and is considered by many to be Israel's unofficial national anthem. 

What you probably don’t know is the story behind the song’s lyrics. Shemer was commissioned to write the song for the Israeli Song Festival, where it was performed by singer Shuli Natan to great fanfare on May 15, 1967 — just weeks before the start of the Six-Day War. At the time, East Jerusalem, including the Old City, was under Jordanian control, off limits to Jews. As you can guess from the mournful tune, the song is a lament for the divided city: 

How the cisterns have dried

The marketplace is empty

And no one frequents the Temple Mount

In the Old City.

And in the caves in the mountain

Winds are howling

And no one descends to the Dead Sea

By way of Jericho.

Little did Shemer know that things were about to change drastically. On June 5, 1967, the Six-Day War erupted, and just two days later, Israel captured East Jerusalem, including the Old City. 

(sound of news report, “The Temple Mount is our hands.”)

The shofar was blown at the Western Wall for the first time in 2,000 years, and the paratroopers who had captured the Old City burst into Shemer’s song. Teddy Kollek, then the mayor of Jerusalem, sent a telegram to Shemer, asking her to add a verse  celebrating the victory. Shemer obliged immediately, scribbling down what became the song’s final two verses:

We have returned to the cisterns

To the market and to the marketplace

A ram's horn calls out on the Temple Mount

In the Old City.

And in the caves in the mountain

Thousands of suns shine -

We will once again descend to the Dead Sea

By way of Jericho!

On today’s episode, we’re talking about the history of Israeli pop music. It seemed fitting to start with Yerushalayim Shel Zahav, not only because the song is so iconic, but because it’s a great example of how Israeli pop music is always in flux. Israel has changed dramatically over its short history, and so has its music — sometimes gradually, over years or even decades, and sometimes, as in the case of Yerushalayim Shel Zahav, in a matter of weeks. 

Of course, no one song, or even group of songs, can do justice to Israel’s complex history. But by listening carefully to songs that have resonated with Israelis, as we’ll do in this episode, we can learn a lot about the country — both where it’s been and where it’s headed. 


Jeremy Shere: Now, if we really want to trace the history of Israeli popular music, we have to go back much earlier than 1967, to the time before Israel was even a country. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Jewish pioneers, mostly from Europe, arrived in Palestine to settle the land and build a Jewish nation. The music of the time reflected those lofty goals. 

(Artza Alinu song plays)

Daniel Stein Kokin: So many of the classic Israeli songs in the pre-state period and then in the early state period, will speak in terms of a “we,” anachnu, with the expectation that the listener can identify with that “we.”

Jeremy Shere: This is Daniel Stein Kokin, a Jewish Studies scholar currently affiliated with Arizona State University. 

Daniel Stein Kokin: Of course, one can ask how inclusive was, in fact, that “we,” who was excluded or what kinds of identities were excluded from that “we.” But nonetheless, the presence, the prominence of the “we,” of the singing “we,”  is paramount. 

Jeremy Shere: The song Anu Banu Artza is a classic example. It contains just one sentence, repeated over and over: Anu banu artza, livnot u lehibanot bah, “We came to the land to build and to be built by it. “

(song plays)

These early songs, called Shirei Eretz Yisrael or Songs of the Land of Israel, were often accompanied by folk dances the pioneers had brought with them from Europe, including the Hora.

Daniel Stein Kokin: When you are dancing to a song, you are, in a sense, subsuming yourself within it. You are, in a way, acknowledging with your body the importance of this song, you're demonstrating a certain kind of loyalty or fealty to it, whether you think about it or not. 

Jeremy Shere: Often, early Israeli folk songs were sung by groups of people gathered together — a practice called shira betsibur that remains popular today. 

Uri Dorchin: The importance of this kind of ritual, I think cannot be exaggerated.

Jeremy Shere: This is Uri Dorchin, an independent scholar who’s had visiting positions at Washington University in St Louis, University of Colorado, and UCLA. 

Uri Dorchin: Singing along was really a way not only to bring people together for the fun of singing together, which is a ritual that you can find in other places too, but singing certain songs together and by doing so, to embody, by way of singing, the messages that were conveyed by the songs.

Jeremy Shere: Moving into the early decades of Israel’s statehood, popular songs continued to focus on the collective and on building the land. But as the harsh conditions faced by the earlier pioneers eased somewhat, the songs became more playful. A good example is the song Hora Heachzut. 

Uri Dorchin: Now, Hora Heachzut is celebrating the atmosphere of the heachzut. Heachzut was the early settlements built by the army unit called Nahal. The Nahal unit was an army unit whose goal within the army was to create new settlements. Instead of trying to convince citizens of Israel just to leave their house and go out there into the Negev or the Galilee, the army used young soldiers to go out there. They spent some of the time as an infantry unit and some of the time as new pioneers, creating new settlements which later became kibbutzim. 

Jeremy Shere: The song is about working the land, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. 

(Song plays)

Hora cabbage and hora spinach

A tomato on a spear

Nahal unit hora makes you dizzy

Hora lettuce, hora radish

Hora tank hitched to a mule

Hora strawberry commandos

Nahal unit hora makes you dizzy

Nahal settlement hora

Uri Dorchin: So this song, Hora Heachzut, is celebrating, in a very humorous way, the atmosphere of the young people -— we must remember that they were speaking about 18, 19-year-old boys and girls having fun out there in the field, in the Negev, just having their own community. They are going to work in the fields and the orchards and so forth and having a lot of fun in the evenings, back in their houses. So this song is celebrating very far from the reality of the new pioneers that arrived in the ‘20s, who had no time for just having fun. 

Jeremy Shere: Military entertainment troupes were another important element of Israel’s music scene.

Daniel Stein Kokin: In the early decades of the state, they were critical. I mean, the military was where artistic talent was found, cultivated, promoted. Nearly all the great singers of the early decades of Israel were products of the lehakot tzvaiot and also a great many songs were written for these groups. So the state invested resources in creating songs for these groups.

Jeremy Shere: Many of these songs celebrated Israel’s military victories or described hopes for future victories. 

Daniel Stein Kokin: So one great example of this is a song Mul Har Sinai, “Facing Mount Sinai,” which you could sort of describe as the official quasi-official anthem of the 1956 Sinai War, in which Israel for the first time conquered the Sinai peninsula and the Gaza Strip. And here in this song, a famous duo of song creators, Mohar and Wilensky, a kind of Israeli Rodgers and Hammerstein, if you will, were recruited, even before the first shot, to create an anthem for the hoped-for victory that was, in fact, achieved. So the creation of, the writing of the song, was kind of a top-secret operation, part of the military campaign, which is striking. And the song was written for the Lehakat HaNahal, the Nahal entertainment troupe, which was the most prestigious of the various military bands. And this is a song that recounts, in celebratory terms, how the youth of Israel, how the Nation of Israel, has returned to the Mount Sinai of yore.


(news clip of outbreak of Six-Day War)

Jeremy Shere: The Six-Day War in 1967 profoundly changed the country  — including its music. Not only did Israel’s military victory significantly expand its borders, it also broadened the country’s cultural horizons. 

Uri Dorchin: The Six-Day War in many ways is a watershed in Israeli society, in society and economy and culture and so forth. Generally speaking, after the Six-Day War, Israel became much more open and connected to the world. 

Jeremy Shere: This openness made some of Israel’s leaders nervous. According to some accounts, a 1965 concert featuring none other than the Beatles was canceled because of concerns that the band would corrupt Israeli youth. Inevitably, though, foreign influences found their way in. It was common in the ’60s and ’70s for Israeli musicians to take a popular American or British song and translate it into Hebrew. 

Daniel Stein Kokin: Because there was such a strong focus on Hebrew culture, or because the notion that culture should transpire in the Jewish state in the Hebrew language was so strong, or alternatively, one could say, because there was a degree of cultural insecurity about the viability of the Israeli project and hence a real interest in emphasizing the need for culture to take place in Hebrew, there was a very prominent aspect or element of translating foreign songs into Hebrew, and then singing them in Hebrew form.

Jeremy Shere: Sometimes songs were translated word for word. 

( Hebrew version of  “Sounds of Silence” plays)

Israeli musicians would borrow from American and British songs in more subtle ways, too.

Daniel Stein Kokin: I like to use the term “transpiration,” a synthesis of “translation” and “inspiration,” to showcase how a lot of Israeli songwriters, in drawing upon foreign songs, actually then recreated them in keeping with Israeli needs, Israeli reality, the Israeli situation at the time. And I think perhaps the single best example of this phenomenon is Naomi Shemer’s masterpiece, Lu Yehi, “If Only it could Be,” which is, in essence, a rewriting of the Beatles’ “Let It Be.”

(chorus of “Let It Be” plays, fades into Lu Yehi)

The tune is not exactly the same. And the point is that the two need not be exactly the same. There can be all kinds of re-fashioning, re-creations. The point is, in a number of these cases, you can show that a clear, unmistakable relationship exists between two songs.

Jeremy Shere: Even when Israeli musicians took inspiration from the US and Britain, they gave their songs a distinctly Israeli feel. 

Uri Dorchin: And I think there is no clearer example than the work of Arik Einstein. Arik Einstein, in the late ’60s, was really making a Beatles-like kind of music. He also sang Beatles in Hebrew. And then a year or two years later, he makes yet another album that’s called BaDeshe Etzel Avigdor, “Avigdor’s in the Backyard,” or in the grass, that is much more Israeli in terms of themes and in terms of music. But it was not Songs of the Land of Israel. It was rock, but it was not “Arik Einstein makes Beatles.” It was 100% Arik Einstein with Miki Gavrielov, who was the composer and arranger. So they implemented the Anglo-American influences, but made it 100% Israeli.

Jeremy Shere: The American anti-war movement in the late 1960s also made its mark on Israeli music. 

Uri Dorchin: This is very strange, in a way, because on the one hand, the Israeli army is in its heyday. I mean, it was always glorified, but after the Six-Day War, the army was really seen as the solution to all our problems. And so there are many, many songs that celebrate our military power and so forth. But also at the same time, some of the anti-war ideas and terminology and representations come to Israel. And paradoxically, or ironically, we can hear them in the songs of the military ensembles.

Jeremy Shere: Take, for example, Shir LaShalom, or “A Song for Peace,” released just a couple of years after the Six-Day War.

Uri Dorchin: So “A Song For Peace,” in ’69 begins, “Let the sun rise, the morning come up,” which is a direct reference or allusion to “Let the sun shine in.” Musically, you cannot mistake the intro, with a heavy bass and an electric guitar playing over it. Now, electric bass and electric guitar is a new sound in Israeli music in these days, and it comes straight from the Anglo-American music of the time.

Jeremy Shere: The song was first performed by the prestigious Nahal entertainment troupe during the War of Attrition between Israel and Egypt. But the words are decidedly pacifist. 

“Lift your eyes with hope,” goes one verse.

“not through the rifles' sights.

Sing a song for love

and not for wars.”

Uri Dorchin: It is kind of ironic that these ideas of “give peace a chance.” Are conveyed by soldiers in uniforms. So this is something unique.

Jeremy Shere: The song is more than just a simple peace anthem. Maybe that’s why it caused such a stir when it was released. 

Uri Dorchin: It was forbidden. It was not broadcast on Israeli radio. It was said to discourage the soldiers or the nation. And it is a very powerful, I would say, protest song. It not only says,” Give peace a chance, give a chance for love and not…” it says, “Just forget about those who perished.” I mean, if Israel as a nation is so immersed in the worship of the fallen soldier as the ultimate emblem of self-sacrifice, so this song says, “Don't look back, leave them behind.” And it speaks from the first person, in the voice of fallen soldiers, who say, “No one will take us out of the pit in which we are buried. So don't bother to cry over us.” So it's a very powerful tex.

Jeremy Shere: It was also in this period that Israel started to export its music to the rest of the world. In 1973, the country participated in the Eurovision song contest for the first time.

Daniel Stein Kokin: Before Cyprus, even before Turkey, that was, of course, a NATO member. So right away, that's fascinating. So the fact that Israel is participating in Eurovision, I think, was really important, especially if we think about the ’70s for Israel. I mean, people often talk about Israel's international isolation in recent years, but they have a short memory. Israel is so much more rooted and established on the international scene now, or in the last decade or two decades, than it was in the ’70s, when the Arab economic boycott was so strong. This isolation was really quite substantial. And so the participation in the Eurovision, I think, really meant a lot for the country.

Jeremy Shere: Not only did Israel become a regular participant in the Eurovision contest — it did well, winning the competition four times over the decades, including two years in a row in the ’70s.

Daniel Stein Kokin: The fact that they then do well at Eurovision, I think, also represents a kind of validation, when the song then sort of goes back to Israel. So it's sort of Israel showcasing itself, as this young, energetic, strong, self-confident country on one hand, but it's very happy to have that validation — there is also an Israeli insecurity  — happy to have that validation that the participation and the frequent success at the Eurovision competition provides.

(“Hallelujah” song plays)


Jeremy Shere: You might be wondering why you haven’t heard anything yet about Mizrahi music, an important part of Israel’s music scene. Today, many of Israel’s most famous and successful pop artists are Mizrahi, meaning that they trace their ancestry to the Middle East and North Africa. But that wasn’t always the case. For the first few decades of Israel’s existence, Mizrahi music was largely ignored by radio stations and record producers. That doesn’t mean it was unpopular. On the contrary.

Uri Dorchin: They enjoyed enormous popularity in the streets. And I guess, in numbers, they sold much more than the Ashkenazi pop stars sold records. But they bypassed the record industry by creating cheaply produced tape cassettes, which were very easy to produce, to copy. And then it was sold on the open market stalls, by the thousands, in bus stations, in the markets. So you don't have official statistics of how much they sold, but obviously much more than the allegedly biggest stars of Israeli pop rock sold in the conventional trajectory of the music industry and in the conventional stories. So they were popular, but they were not part of the mainstream.

Jeremy Shere: One of the reasons Mizrahi music was shunned is that there was a general bias against Mizrahim in Israel. As we discussed in our episode on the Yemenite Children Affair in Season 1, when Israel became a state, the Ashkenazi-led government often treated Mizrahim like second-class citizens. For example, Mizrahim were forced to live in poor development towns on Israel’s periphery, which limited their opportunities for upward mobility. Mizrahi music became linked to that lower status.

Uri Dorchin: It was associated with the poor neighborhoods, the working class people. And so it was regarded as cheap, inappropriate, not refined, simply not artistically sophisticated. And also for the language, the Hebrew was not “genuine” Hebrew, very colloquial Hebrew of the streets that you do not expect respected singers to speak. 

Jeremy Shere: Things started to change for a few reasons. In the 1977 election, the Ashkenazi-dominated Labor Party, which had governed the country since its founding, finally lost.

Daniel Stein Kokin: The defeat of the traditional labor Alliance, just sort of created the possibility of a new kind of openness for other kinds of other approaches to Israeliness that starts to really bear fruit into the ’80s.

Jeremy Shere: Dorchin thinks the game changer was the privatization of Israeli radio in the ’80s. Up to that point, all Israeli radio and TV stations were owned and operated by the state. 

Uri Dorchin: Once it was taken out of the hands of the state, now it became commercial radio and commercial television that had to approach the widest common denominator. If you want to run commercials, if you want the people to listen to your station and not to your competing channel, you cannot just come and look down upon them and say, “Listen, we know what's good for you.” Now, you work for them. You have to give them what they like, what the audience demands, and what the audience demands is Mizrahi music.

Jeremy Shere: Changes in the style of Mizrahi music might also explain why it became more accepted by the mainstream. 

Daniel Stein Kokin: There are voices who will tell you that actually what happens though, is not simply that Israel warms up to Mizrahi music, but that Mizrahi music becomes something that is more palatable to...let's say the Ashkenazic or the general Israeli ear. And so there are actually a number of scholars who are quite critical or review this development rather critically, that one shouldn’t sort of pat oneself on the back or congratulate oneself from an Israeli perspective— “ah, look how open and receptive we've become.” Actually, Mizrahi music had to pay quite a substantial price to gain that acceptance. And often what we think of is Mizrahi music in Israel, it's not so much authentic Moroccan or Iraqi or Yemenite music. It's actually very Mediterranean — it's borrowing actually quite substantially from Greek and Turkish melodies.

Jeremy Shere: Stein Kokin gives the example of the 1988 song Tipat Mazal, or “A Drop of Luck,” which turned Zahava Ben, a Mizrahi singer, into a star.

(song plays)


Jeremy Shere: Around the turn of the new millennium, another genre of Israeli pop burst onto the scene: hip hop. As in the case of Mizrahi music, Israeli hip hop thrived in Israel before making it to the mainstream. But the transition from underground to commercial success happened much more quickly. 

Uri Dorchin: Because hip-hop or Israeli rap, I would say, grew simultaneously with this process that I talked about, the privatization of the Israeli media, in which the stylistic borders became more elastic, so to speak. And these Israeli producers were always looking for the next big thing, for the next new thing. So hip hop did not have to wait three decades, as Mizrahi music had, to break into the mainstream.

Jeremy Shere: Not surprisingly, Israeli hip hop artists were influenced by their American peers. In particular, hip hop’s straight-talk style felt very natural to Israelis. 

Uri Dorchin: Israelis are very famous about speaking like straightforward, in-your-face attitude, which makes it easier for them to absorb the hip hop.

Jeremy Shere: But whereas in the US, hip hop is associated with the African American community... 

Uri Dorchin: In Israel  it was never associated with any particular social segment on the level of who is doing it or who is consuming it, but also it never culminated into an image that associated hip hop or rap in Israel with a certain community. 

Jeremy Shere: So in Israel, hip hop hasn’t always been seen as giving voice to the disempowered, as it is the US. In fact, sometimes the opposite is true. 

Uri Dorchin: Let's take the ultimate example, which is the rapper called Subliminal . Subliminal was an Israeli rapper —  the first Israeli superstar rapper — and his songs gave voice to a radical nationalist approach.

(Subliminal song plays)

Put in context, it was the Palestinian Intifada in the year 2000, the Al-Aksa Intifada. There was a lot of stress, a lot of frustration, a lot of fear. Buses were being bombed in the middle of the cities. And Subliminal just gave voice to this anger, to this frustration from the nationalist attitude. We have to be strong. We have to fight, as we once did. We cannot be the bleeding-heart liberals that we became during the Oslo Accords and so forth. So it was a really powerful statement of the military Israeli. 

Jeremy Shere: When Israelis first heard Subliminal’s songs, some of them balked. 

Uri Dorchin: He was accused by many people that you cannot be the soldier, the policeman, the one who speaks from the standpoint of the nation, of the politicians. Whereas rap always gives the alternative, the subversive voice of those who who are oppressed by the nation. Here is a rapper who is also the oppressor. 

Jeremy Shere: But Subliminal felt he was staying true to hip hop’s ethos of telling it like it is. 

Uri Dorchin: First of all, this is what I think, this is what I feel. I am frustrated. I am pissed off about what's going on. And I just put it out and I do it just as a rapper would do it. First of all, the fact that I'm doing it, that I don't think twice, and I'm just spitting it out — this is what a rapper is supposed to do. 

Jeremy Shere: Subliminal quickly became very popular — probably because whether you agreed with him or not, he just plain sounded good. 

(song plays) 

Over the last 20 years, Israeli hip hop has evolved in interesting ways. 

Uri Dorchin: The seminal experience of making hip hop in Israel in the early 2000s was an experience, I would say, of working with one’s back against the wall, in the sense that Israeli rappers felt compelled to explain, even, I would say justify, their artistic decision to rap. Unlike other non-Israeli styles that were imported in earlier ages, here, the image of rap as black people's music made it all the more difficult because, Israeli rappers were accused of trying to imitate people whom they will never be able to be.

Jeremy Shere: In order to prove themselves, early Israeli rappers usually produced music with a message. 

Uri Dorchin: Sometimes very explicitly in the text, they are saying it, but even if they're not explicitly said, you can actually hear it, that they are trying to convey the impression that they have something very important and serious to say — they're not doing it just for fun.

Jeremy Shere: As Israeli hip hop became more established over the last couple of decades, artists began to feel more free to produce music that is fun and playful. The youngest generation of Ethiopian rappers — like Eden Dersso, heard here — are a good example. These artists take on serious issues, Dorchin says, like the discrimination faced by Ethiopian Jews in Israel, but they also have fun with their lyrics. 

(song plays)


Jeremy Shere: In recent years, with the status of Hebrew firmly established, Israeli pop music has become more open not only to other genres, but to other languages, including Arabic. Many musicians who use Arabic in their songs trace their roots back to Arab countries. The women who make up the group A-wa, which means “yes” in Arabic, are half-Yemenite and focus on that side of their heritage in many of their songs. 

Daniel Stein Kokin: Their song Habib Galbi, “Love of My Heart,” is a great example of this and was actually the first song in Arabic to reach the top of Israel's pop charts. So that's quite substantial.

(song plays)

Jeremy Shere: Another good example is the song “Tudo Bom,” which borrows from the Portuguese language and from Brazilian culture. 

(song plays)

Daniel Stein Kokin: They say very explicitly in the song, “Etzleinu omrim she’b’seder, v’etzlam omrim she’tudo bom.”  So we say “b’seder” for things are alright, and they say, over in Brazil, “tudo bom.” And so, that's at the center of the song, this notion of sort of translation from Hebrew into another culture, from another culture into Hebrew. But the song is called “Tudo Bom,” it’s not called Kol B'Seder. And so there is this element of infusion into the song, about infusing the energy of Brazil into Israel. So I think that that notion of a need to appeal to, to draw upon a foreign songs for musical traditions, is very much still alive in Israel, but it's reflected in a somewhat different way — much less in terms of an actual translation into Hebrew of specific songs or of a kind of transpirational, as I like to say, sort of recreation of that song in an Israeli format. 

Jeremy Shere: Dorchin and Stein Kokin both predict that Israeli pop music will continue down this cosmopolitan path.

Uri Dorchin: The typical Israeli musician will spend more time, say, in Berlin or in Amsterdam than in Israel. Or bands whose members are scattered across three different continents. Many of them, when they create new music, play their role, wherever they are, send it over to the musical producer, they mix it together...In many cases you can never tell that this is Israeli people making this music. There is nothing distinguished Israeli in it.

Jeremy Shere: This is a far cry from when Arik Einstein brought the Beatles’ sound to Israel. 

Uri Dorchin: There was England and Israel and something that was created by the mixture or the fusion of the two. Now these days, you cannot detect the point of origin and, moreover, it is not necessary at all. No one is actually bothering to try to understand where this music comes from at all. It's just there, on the air, quite literally. I mean, this music is put on YouTube or Bandcamp or iTunes or whatever. This is where Israel is going in terms of music, but more broadly in terms of culture. So I'm not saying that the sense of Israeli culture is not important at all or that there is no such thing that you can call Israeli culture, but that the local culture or any locality, be it Israel or any other locale, is already saturated by multiple inputs taken from different places.

Jeremy Shere: Dorchin thinks Noga Erez is a good example.

Uri Dorchin: Noga Erez is one of the most successful Israeli artists in the world. But then I feel somewhat uncomfortable talking about her in terms of Israeli artists. Yes, she is Israeli — Noga Erez, her name, betrays her. She's Israeli. But she does not perform in Hebrew, she makes very updated contemporary music in terms of production. She raps, although she's not a rapper, she sings...

(song plays)


Jeremy Shere: Just because Israeli music has changed so dramatically over the decades, that doesn’t mean it’s completely broken with the past. On the contrary, Stein Kokin points out how classic Israeli songs often have an interesting afterlife. For example, the 1973 hit song Pitom Kam Adam, or  “Suddenly A Man Wakes Up,” became an anthem of the 2011 social protests, when Israelis took to the streets to speak out against the high cost of living. The man in the song’s title is a metaphor.

(song plays)

“Suddenly a man wakes up in the morning,” reads one verse. 

He feels he is a nation and begins to walk,

and he sees that the spring has returned

and the tree is turning green since last fall's tree shedding.” 

Thirty years later, the lyrics took on a new meaning. 

Daniel Stein Kokin:  That is to say, “Suddenly a man got up and wasn't going to take it anymore and started complaining about the society and wanted things to change.” I think that does characterize a fair amount of Israeli protest songs. That is to say, it's protesting particular policies or aspects of the country, but nonetheless doesn't ultimately, or fundamentally, break with the Israeli project as such.

Jeremy Shere: Still, it’s fair to say that the story of Israeli music is a story of constant evolution. For Dorchin, that’s what makes it so exciting. 

Uri Dorchin: Music as a cultural expression never remains stable or passive. It's not just, “OK, we have our Israeli music, so to speak, and then we'll just write more and more songs in the same style.” I mean, it's always on the move, because people are on the move, in the modern and late modern age. Cultural expressions and fashions and sounds are circulated throughout. So we always try new things. Some of them are being accepted. Some of them are being rejected. Some of them are being changed. And so the music always gives us a reflection of the point in time in which we are now, just to say something about what Israel is like at a certain point, but also it says something about what Israel may become.



Episode Guests

Uri Dorchin

Uri Dorchin

Uri Dorchin is a cultural anthropologist who has held visiting positions at Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Colorado, and the University of California, Los Angeles. His research and teaching focus on the socio-cultural aspects of popular culture and music, ethnicity, and racial thinking, with recent research focused on Israeli rap and hip hop music. He is the author of the book Real Time: Hip-Hop in Israel/ Israeli Hip Hop and co-editor of Blackness in Israel: Rethinking Racial Boundaries.

Daniel Stein Kokin

Daniel Stein Kokin

Daniel Stein Kokin is a Visiting Scholar at Arizona State University and has previously taught Jewish and Israel Studies at Yale, UCLA, the University of Oregon, and the University of Greifswald (Germany). He writes on Renaissance Humanism, Jewish-Christian relations, and modern Israel, and also develops academic presentations that synthesize scholarly lecture and dramatic performance, including the“Breach of Protocols: Revisiting Zion’s Elders” project.

Episode Host


Jeremy Shere, PhD

Jeremy Shere, PhD, is a podcast producer based in Bloomington, Indiana. Jeremy earned his doctorate in English Literature and Jewish Studies from Indiana University. He is currently the producer of the Frankely Judaic podcast for the Jewish Studies program at the University of Michigan.

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