False Dichotomies


Archive for October, 2012

Music For An Israel Trip


Every year tens of thousands of tourists visit Israel. Some come on organized trips while others travel on their own. One characteristic that the majority of visitors have in common is their desire to experience the Land of Israel and connect to its people and heritage.

Many tour organizers and guides recognize this and make an effort to include Jewish and Israeli music as part of the trip. They view Israel’s music as an opportunity to present the country’s character, emotional pulse, values and experiences. The music of Israel helps to define the country’s identity and encourages the travelers to develop a solidarity with Israelis. Some songs reflect the country’s religious or pioneer history while others indicate the emotional pulse of today’s Israeli citizens. Some well known examples include Hatikva, Old Jerusalem and a number of others found in the Israel Suit released by the Lowell Milken Archive.

A component of this identity involves the inclusion of Hebrew words and phrases that allow visitors to connect to Israel through language. Many people, including many Jewish tourists, know little Hebrew but would like to learn more. Introducing simple Hebrew songs into a group activity or while traveling on a bus is a good way to help familiarize tourists with the language of the country and give them a feeling of inclusion and belonging.

Tour leaders can use song lyrics to initiate discussions about the country’s conflicts, values, attitudes and struggles — many of which are expressed by Israeli performers. When these pieces are translated and discussed with the tour participants it is often possible to provide an overview of the “real Israel” that may otherwise be overlooked.

Finally, many groups engage in a karaoke-type sing-a-long that allows the participants to recall the traditional Jewish songs of their Hebrew schools and summer camps. The importance of these activities cannot be overemphasized because they frequently strengthen the identification that the participants feel with the Jewish Land.

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