- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Audiences at Idan Raichel Project concerts are urged to check their preconceived notions at the door and go with the flow of the white guy with long dreadlocks, as he and his racially mixed troupe stir their Israeli-based melting pot.

“I am especially happy that the crowds on our tour are so open-minded,” said Mr. Raichel, who will perform with his group tonight at 7 at Lister Auditorium in Northwest. “Even though we do not sing in English, they react in a very positive way, just feeling the vibes. Music makes the crossover with all the languages. This is how I see Israel.”

The Idan Raichel Project includes musicians from Israel’s Arab and Ethiopian communities. “This music speaks to all ages. We are redefining Israeli music,” said Mr. Raichel, a third-generation Israeli of Eastern European descent.

Singing in Hebrew and playing music that is not usually heard as accompaniment to verses from Hebrew Scriptures, the 27-year-old composer/singer/keyboardist segues to decidedly Middle Eastern sounds ” performed in pop-rock style ” with bass player Golan Zuskovitz and percussionists Itamar Duari and Gilad Shmueli.

They are joined by featured singers Maya Avraham, descended of Egyptian Jews, and Vodgrass (Avi) Vesa and Cabra Casay, both of whom came to Israel from Ethiopia.

Miss Casay was a favorite on Israel’s version of “American Idol.” As she tells of her family’s journey to Israel in 1982 as part of Operation Moses, emotion wells in her voice and her eyes. In Ethiopia, her grandfather had served as their community’s rabbi, political leader and link to Israel.

“Our community had been dreaming about Jerusalem,” she said. “In the beginning, small groups were smuggled in. Then, one night they were awakened, told to take a few things and thousands left the villages. For four weeks, they walked out of Ethiopia, through the desert to get to Sudan, where they hoped they would be able to fulfill their centuries-old dream of coming to Israel.

“Many lost younger and older members of their families. My grandmother died along the way. And I was born as they walked.”

They stayed in Sudan one year, during which they learned Hebrew, until the Israeli air force could send planes to pick them up.

Miss Casay said she feels the Ethiopian community, which traces its Jewish connection to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, is more accepted now than when they arrived in Israel.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide