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January 02, 1987 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-01-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

The Great ' 6's %0&4,.
Cover Up t tkt.

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32

Friday, January 2, 1987

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

CARL ALPERT

H

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BE A WINNER, PLAY

Kibbutz Finds Economic
Harmony In Music

Special to The Jewish News

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M U SIC

aifa — It is already an
accepted fact of life in
Israel that the kibbut-
zim, once regarded as the very
symbol of Jewish agriculture,
are now to a large extent
engaged in industry. Their
production ranges all the way
from plastics, electronic
equipment and furniture, to
plywood, textiles, optics and
shoes, to mention but a few of a
long list of commodities.
The other day we visited
Kvutzat Geva, located at the
far eastern end of the Valley of
Jezreel (the Emek), where
popular music has been turned
into an income-producing sec-
tor of the economy. Geva's
folk-singing troupe, the Gevat-
ron, has become one of Israel's
top rated entertainment com-
panies. The fees earned aug-
ment the kibbutz income from
citrus, cotton, chickens, dates
and dairy herds, as well as its
electronic and food industries.
It wasn't planned that way.
When a group of Geva high
school students began singing
together close to forty years
ago they did so because they
enjoyed it. They developed a
unique musical style of their
own, and when they received
invitations to entertain at var-
ious kibbutz functions they
were happy to oblige. From
there it was only a matter of
time. The amateur kibbutz
singers began to receive re-
quests for their appearance
from all over the country.
Television and concert appear-
ances were followed by trips
abroad, including a two-month
coast-to-coast tour of the U.S.
by bus, under B'nai B'rith au-
spices. .
What is the secret of their
success? At a time when popu-
lar music and _pop bands em-
phasize loud noise and flashing
lights, and songs which drip
with sex and violence in con-
tent and presentation, the
Gevatron stands out in con-
trast as an old-fashioned
troupe, whose sweet, blending
voices make the audiences
want to sing along. Their rich
harmony seems to flow spon-
taneously. They have an easy,
relaxed stage presence, highly
professional, but with the de-
ceptive appearance of
amateurs having a good time
together.
Their program offers songs
which reflect the positive, the
warm, the decent, the creative,
the happy side of Israel and its
people. They convey a message
which is sorely needed in these
days of social, religious and
political clashes. One might
say they sing of the other Is-
rael, the Israel which is quite
different from that which
emerges from newspaper re-
ports.
Though they produce income
for the kibbutz, each of the 18
members of the troupe is ex-
pected to carry his full weight

of normal duties on the daily
roster. Thus, Nika is the
beauty parlor operator (yes,
such an institution does exist
on the kibbutz), Yossi is a gym
teacher, Rinat works in the
nursery school, Vered is in
charge of the kibbutz clothing
supply room. Mira, who works
in the greenhouse, has seven
children and eight
grandchildren, besides which,
her husband is a member of the
Knesset (Menahem Raz). Noa,
a veteran participant, has
kitchen duties.
Weekly rehearsals are held
on what is supposed to be their
free time. The members range
in age from 25 to 56, and many
of them are related to each

Though they
produce income
for the kibbutz,
each member
carries his full
weight of duties.

other. There are no stars, and
no one is listed as a soloist.
Their performance is collec-
tive, in the best kibbutz spirit.
They are not a choir or choral
society, it was emphasized, but
a folksong troupe.
Founder and for many years
director of the Gevatron is
Rena Firstenberg, who admit-
ted to us that she had for a long
time been the dictator of the
group. From others we heard
that this was true, but without
her unwavering dedication,
the Gevatron would never
have lasted, as it has, for al-
most 40 years. A few of the
older members have dropped
out, but younger ones are tak-
ing their place, following the
same pattern and tradition.
Rina herself, who still sings,
follows a daily assignment in
the kitchen, and came out to
see us, wiping her hands on her
apron.

In addition to their commer-
cial performances, they make
special appearances before
soldiers, and have sung before
army units all the way from
the Golan Heights to Sharm
El-Sheikh. Their albums, now
12 in number, sell in the tens of
thousands, and add to the kib-
butz income. While their music
has been almost exclusively Is-
raeli, the last two albums were
of Russian folk songs, with
original Hebrew lyrics, per-
haps by way of preparation for
their impending tour of Poland
and Hungary.
In terms of cold cash, Geva
might make more money from
Bakara, its electronic controls
factory, from Shkediyah, its
nut and fruit delicacy business,
or from its cotton, cows and
chickens, but none have made
Geva more famous, nor re-
flected the spirit of the best
elements of kibbutz life more
than its Gevatron.

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