A month before
September 11th there was August 9, 2001 the bombing of the
Sbarro Pizza restaurant in central Jerusalem. One of the
people murdered there, 15-year-old flutist and songwriter
Malki Roth, was by all accounts a cheerful spirit who
volunteered with special needs youngsters like her sister.
After her death, Malkis family found a song she had
composed, Shir Lismoach/Song of Rejoicing:
breathing, moving/Thats a good start, it went. The way
things have been going for Israel, its not just a cruel
irony: its a fine lyric to remember.
As this CDs
producer, Jordan B. Gorfinkel, went about corralling dozens
of Jewish-music soloists into a giant choir for a Jewish We
are the World kind of Israel-solidarity project, Malkis
song came to his attention, and so it is a featured part of
this unique two-CD set. One disc doubles as a video, taking
you to Israel.
Over 50 men
agreed to participate in this project, which includes 35
songs performed by Jewish music stars across the spectrum
of observance, from the Reform rabbis of Kol BSeder to the
yeshiva boys of Beatachon, from Joe Black to the black-hatted
Shloime Dachs, from the U.S. to Jerusalem.
To stretch this
far, producer Gorfinkel made it an all-male project, as
mixed-voice choirs are a non-starter in the ultra-orthodox
world. That having been said, the set is a worthy
anthem called Chazak Amenu: We Stand as One, with
both Hebrew and English lyrics, anchors the event and this
is an event. Theres a track reserved for these individual
singers, most from previously released albums of their own,
and each related, in some way, to Israel or peace. No
listener will be thrilled with every track, of course, but I
doubt if anybody will go home hungry.
Theres a Sim
Shalom from the perennial Paul Zim, Sam Glasers In
Israel, and from the Israeli singer Sandy Shmuely, a tender
lullaby worth learning in Hebrew and using with your own
little ones, Tishan Yeled/Sleep Child.
Rabbi Joe Black,
who wears a cowboy hat and serves a Reform congregation in
New Mexico, delivers a powerful brotherhood message in I
Remember You (we are not bound by hate/but by our
memory). Gorfinkles own group, Beatachon, the smoothest a
cappella crooners since the Beach Boys, handles Hatikva
with a rich blend of poignant harmony and comfort.
And then theres
Malkis Song. Technical producer for this project was Yehuda
Cik, a Jewish music star in his own right like the
Broadwaplay Oklahoma!, he goes by the performance
name of Yehuda!.
Cik, a talented
arranger as well as a sweet-voiced singer, orchestrated Shir
Lismoach and recorded it here with Malki Roths
favorite Israeli singer, Yishay Lapidot. The effect here is,
as it should be, troubling: bouncy, optimistic words and a
sprightly melody professionally produced and made famous
because its inspired young composer was murdered in the
midst of hatred.
So this set,
Voices for Israel, is not only for sale, and not only to
raise funds to aid terror victims in Israel, but also to
testify that singing out about Israel is as good a way as
any to remind ourselves what those words mean, shalom al
When you visit
www.voicesforisrael.org, follow the link to the Malki