Idan Raichel’s Project

Idan Raichel is the Israeli pop star who made waves with his 2006 recording The Idan Raichel Project. He has followed up with subsequent recordings that Amazon has collected here. Commenting in the New York Times on Idan’s original recording, Jon Pareles perfectly captured my reaction:

The Idan Raichel Project was a huge hit in Israel for good reason: it envisions a modern, multicultural nation where voices of young and old, Ethiopian and Yemenite, are all heard in songs devoted to love and tolerance. Idan Raichel is the keyboardist, songwriter and producer behind the scenes, and he’s clearly as familiar with Peter Gabriel as with Middle Eastern traditions. His arrangements bind the voices together in somber minor-mode anthems paced by electronic beats, earnestly seeking to uplift.

Thanks to the efforts of tour host Fern Oppenheim, who apparently provided some romantic advice to Idan at a crucial moment in his life, Idan joined our group on the Tel Aviv beachfront boardwalk during the 2007 bloggers’ tour of Israel that she led. As you can see in the photograph above, courtesy of Jim Hoft, I was slightly happy to make his acquaintance.

Idan performed in Central Park in 2007 and told us that one of the journalists interviewing him during his visit asked him if he wasn’t ashamed to have served in Israel’s Army (where he continues to serve as a reservist). “No,” he said, “my country is at war. Do you expect me to abandon it and say it’s not my country?” Idan’s terrific Web site is here.

Someone at AIPAC had the great idea of inviting Idan and his group to perform at the policy conference last week in Washington. Below is the video of the performance. Please check it out.


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