Israel Beat Jewish Music Podcast

The Israel Beat Jewish Music Podcast interviews the latest Israeli and Jewish artists and covers a wide range of styles from Carlebach, cantorial, klezmer, Israeli trance, Mizrachi, rock, Sephardic, hasidic and everything in between. Past interviews have included Matisyahu, Avraham Fried, and Miri Ben-Ari. IsraelBeat broadcasts live every Sunday from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Israel time on

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Chaim Dovid interview and article - download now!

Chaim Dovid on Music and the Rebuilding of Jerusalem
by Ezra HaLevi

Redemption Soul musician Chaim Dovid (also spelled Chaim David) Saracik spoke with Israel National Radio’s Benyamin Bresky while strolling through Jerusalem’s Old City, where he lives.

Saracik will be performing at Arutz-7’s Sunday February 18th concert. For ticket information visit

Chaim Dovid is one of the heirs of the musical legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. His music, part of the ever-growing genre of indigenous soul tunes coming forth from Zion, is a clear departure from the orchestra-backed fare of the other performers at the upcoming event.

Saracik brought Bresky with him on a typical stroll through his neighborhood, Jerusalem’s Old City. Along the way, Chaim Dovid is stopped by IDF soldiers, tourists, neighbors and long-lost acquaintances who each have a story or a memory to share.

Click here to listen to the walking interview

“Shlomo used to say ‘Hey, brother, you saved my life,’ Chaim Dovid recalls, speaking of his rebbe in the way he insisted all his student do – without the title rabbi. “It doesn’t literally mean he was drowning in the water and I jumped in and dragged him out. It means that once in a while there is a person that is at the end of his koach (strength), he just can’t go on anymore.” Chaim Dovid’s mission is, through his music and every ounce of personal attention he can fit into the day, to revive and uplift those who are down or disheartened.

Ben Bresky asked: “Your style is very different than the other performers. The others performing at the concert are of a certain genre, and here you are with your acoustic guitar. And while we are on the subject, what, in your view, is Jewish music?”

We live our music – we always did. Our lives are music and we sing with our instruments.
“If a person is a Jew and he is trying to live a life of a Jew, so that is Jewish music, right?” Chaim Dovid said. “How does he express his Jewishness – that is always the difference between this kind of Jew and that kind of Jew. I am here as a student of Reb Shlomo Carlebach. He brought me here in 1975 to Diaspora Yeshiva. Ben Zion Solomon was there and Avraham Rosenblum was there already [both members of the Diaspora Yeshiva Band –ed.]. Our approach to music was very much an acoustic thing and playing on the spot, you know, as it came out. We all had our instruments with us. It wasn’t that we had to set up an orchestra or hire a band leader – we are our music. We live our music – we always did. Our lives are music and we sing with our instruments.

“So I really don’t jive with the orchestras. On HASC 17 [a popular CD compilation of a benefit concert for Camp HASC – lauded later on by a passer-by –ed.] I came on with my band of four and had a rocking set instead of using the 20-piece orchestra. My band knows and loves the music and we don’t just read the notes, we are the music.”

Above all, Chaim Dovid says he hopes his music “turns people on to, you know, that spark of yiddishkeit (Judaism) that really inspires us and lets us connect. That’s what music is about – connecting.”

Chaim Dovid performs many times a week, but is also a prolific composer and has put out eleven albums to date. He tours throughout North America, England and Australia (where his family lives) and has also played at the tomb of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev in Uman, Ukraine and in Kiev, at the Bar Mitzvah of a descendent of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev.

Walking through the stone alleyways of the Jewish Quarter, Chaim Dovid muses that for 2,000 years Jews have been praying for the complete rebuilding of Jerusalem, and now cranes are erected in the main square, rebuilding the Churva synagogue, whose lone arch had come to symbolize the most recent destruction wrought upon the holy city by the Jordanians, between 1948 and 1967.

As if on cue, a family, the Rosners, here for their daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, tell Chaim Dovid proudly that they will be making Aliyah (immigrating to Israel) next year. “We set a date,” they say.

“We didn’t plan this,” says Chaim Dovid to Bresky, wishing the Rosners an easy and pleasant absorption and telling them he can’t wait to attend their housewarming celebration in their new home.

You can be praying in Honolulu, Cleveland or Manchester and you are always facing Jerusalem.
“The Old City is the heart of Jerusalem, which is the heart of the Jewish people,” Chaim Dovid says of his chosen home in the often-hectic tourist-packed center of Jerusalem. “You can be praying in Honolulu, Cleveland or Manchester and you are always facing Jerusalem. This is the heart of Jewish prayer and longing. I look out my back window and see the Temple Mount. I hope that our being here is connecting us with all the people of the world and connecting in a very real mystical way. May we merit to see all the rebuilding culminate in the rebuilding of the Holy Temple atop the Temple Mount.”

Chaim Dovid will be performing live this Sunday, Feb. 18th at New York City’s Lincoln Center. For ticket information visit

Click here for a previous interview with Chaim Dovid.

Benyamin Bresky is the host of The Beat, a weekly Jewish music program on Israel National Radio. He maintains a Jewish music journal at

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Shlomo Simcha interview: The Power of Jewish Music and Radio

Performer Shlomo Simcha: The Power of Jewish Music and Radio
Feb 12, '07 / 24 Shevat 5767
by Benyamin Bresky

Shlomo Simcha is "keeping the 'Jewish' in Jewish music." With the unprecedented waves of new artists coming out, Simcha remains a traditionalist.

Speaking via telephone from his home in Toronto, Canada, Simcha spoke with Ben Bresky, host of The Beat on Arutz 7’s English audio and podcasting site, Israel National Radio. Although Shlomo Simcha may strike one as a mild manner individual, he has a fascinating background and numerous stories. With his British accent punctuated by numerous Yiddish and Ashenazi-pronounced Hebrew phrases he discussed the importance of Arutz 7 and the power of music.

Shlomo Simcha's song 'Miracles' from off his new disc, is the theme of the Arutz 7 – Israel National Radio benefit concert. The miracle of Arutz 7's radio revolution in Israel has been going on for 18 years. The concert will feature Shlomo Simcha along with his long- time musical collaborator, Abie Rotenberg, the young and dynamic Srully Williger, Israeli cantorial star Netanel Hershtik, and Carlebach-style Jerusalem singer Chaim David plus other special guests. The concert will be held Sunday Feb. 18th. For ticket information visit

Shlomo Simcha was born Shlomo Sufrin in Manchester, England, and grew up in London where he was one of thirteen children. Much of his musical history comes from his family experiences. Simcha’s father was the chazzan of the local synagogue. "Shabbos around the table there were many hours of zmiros together."

"A good baal tefilah is something that can't be taught in a classroom," says Simcha. "You’ve got to see what it means that a Yid stands and pours his heart out before the Aibishter."

Today Simcha is a chazzan like his father as well as a performer. He sees a big difference between singing on stage or in the recording studio and singing in synagogue. "When you’re standing on stage, there’s more of a challenge to actually connect with the crowd and take them on a journey of tefillah. Encouragement, happiness, sadness, whatever the story is, you’re taking them on a journey."

By contrast, Simcha describes his feelings about public prayer. "When you're standing before the amoud, you’re representing tehillim, you’re davening to Hashem. It's a very different state of mind, it's a very different state of heart. Just in terms of vocals and how your voice comes out, its very different in shul. There isn’t the music, there isn’t the fanfare, it's much more natural, un-cut, un-edited. It has a different flavor."

Nevertheless, Simcha’s spirit when leading prayers comes through in his music, specifically in his 'Shabbos with Shlomo Simcha' album, a surprisingly successful recording of prayers.
Shlomo Simcha’s style of music is varied, but all within the framework of Hasidic pop, or Yeshivishe style. The songs focus on the voice with roots in cantorial music. The faster ones mix a call and response chorus and blasts of horns for an orchestra sound familiar to fans of Mordechai Ben- David, Avraham Fried and other artists.

Simcha also mixes things up, incorporating a little bit of Israeli Mizrachi style with the Middle Eastern- sounding hand drums and string instruments. There are also tracks that incorporate acoustic guitars as well as sprinkles of hard rock style electric guitars. But mostly, he sticks to a traditional, familiar sound. His most recent release came out this year. "I just finished my bar mitzvah year, thirteen years since my first album," says Simcha.

Jewish music is perhaps now bigger than it ever has been before in terms of worldwide distribution, and the amount of albums released. Two separate Jewish- themed albums, Matisyahu and the Klezmatics, were nominated in this year’s Grammy Awards in the United States. The award ceremonies were held this week and The Klezmatics won for Best Contemporary World Music Album.

In light of the new awareness of Jewish music, Simcha states, “On this album we worked very hard to stay close to the roots of what Jewish music is all about. With advancement of modern technology, the standard of recording has gone up, there’s also an influence of the secular world. That tends to creep its way into Jewish music. One of the goals of this album was to not let that happen and to stay strong and firm to our roots."

One of Simcha's fellow composers holding down the vanguard of tradition is Abie Rotenberg, who will also to be performing at the Feb. 18th concert. Amazingly enough, the two originally met in a grocery store in Toronto one Friday afternoon. "I was shopping erev Shabbos and I picked up more than I bargained for", says Simcha with a laugh.

The song 'Miracles', for which the concert is named, is one of the many duets between Rotenberg and Simcha. The lyrics tell about the struggles of the Jewish people in ancient times leading up to the modern day. They were written by Rotenberg's daughter who got her musical start as the little girl on her father's 'Marvelous Midos Machine' series.

Simcha credits Arutz 7 Radio with helping spread his music, and in fact several of his albums thank Arutz 7 in the liner notes. But for musicians such as Simcha, the real fondness for Arutz 7 comes with the message of being a news source they can count on for a more balanced perspective on Israel and the Jewish world. "Arutz 7 represents building Medinas Yisroel and the day to day miracles that we take for granted."

In addition to his singing career, Simcha also works in the area of outreach to troubled youth and teens at risk. He gives an example of the power of Jewish music in the story of one young man who gave up on the religious lifestyle. "If you’d see him walking down the street you’d never know the kind of home he came from." Simcha describes the young man as having a car packed with old, outdated cantorial CDs from long gone stars such as Yosselle Rosenblatt, Ben-Zion Shenker and Dovid Werdiger (Mordechai Ben- David’s father).

"In the glove compartment he had all these CDs and a yarmulkah. He says to me, 'when I listen to this music, I realize that there has to be an Aibishter. There’s something more to life. I have to put a yarmulkah on.' And eventually he became frum. His life turned around. It's interesting how the music helped him connect to his spiritual side."

Simcha continues, "Music has a tremendous ability -- it's a tremendous vehicle that can be used either way and certainly with Arutz 7 and all the chevra that are involved it's used to bring people closer to Yiddishkeit and give people the sense of direction and the goal of what it's all about and what Am Yisrael is all about."

Shlomo Simcha will be performing live this Sunday, Feb. 18th at Lincoln Center in New York City. For ticket information visit

Monday, February 05, 2007

RebbeSoul live performance download now!

RebbeSoul performs acoustic and electric guitar live in the studio and discusses his adventure in Jewish music. Subjects include religion in music, making aliyah and ripping guitar solos.

Click here for new permanent mp3 download of the show.

Come down to The Syndrome in Jerusalem, 18 Hillel Street on Sunday Feb. 18th for a live solo RebbeSoul concert. For more info visit

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Rebbe Soul live this Sunday!

Rebbe Soul live!

RebbeSoul, the dynamic solo guitarist is known for his many albums such as Fringe of Blue, and the new Voice of the Soul with Sam Glaser, plus backing guitar on countless Jewish and Israeli CDs. This week we will be treated to an interview and live in-studio performance.

Tune in Sunday Feb. 4th, 7PM Israel time, 12 noon Eastern Standard Time on You can also join us in the Virtual Studio Chat Room or call in toll free during the show.

For more information on The Beat visit
For more information on Rebbe Soul visit