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November 13, 1987 - Image 41

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-11-13

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

--ASIAN



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Two faces of David Ben-Ami: Young pop star and follower of Rabbi
Nachman.

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Pop Singer Re-emerged
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SUSAN BASS

I

n 1970, David ("Dadi")
Ben-Ami, a young Israeli
pop singer, was
catapulted into the public eye
with a hit song Desdimona.
Newspaper headlines de-
clared "A New Star is Born."
But just as popular success
stood within his reach, it lost
its appeal. Ben-Ami stopped
performing and dropped out
of sight.
In 1985, after an absence of
12 years, Ben-Ami returned to
the stage and to the recording
studio. He clearly had travel-
ed a great distance in those
years, both spiritually and
musically, for today he is a
Bratslav Chassid living quiet-
ly in Jerusalem's ultra-
Orthodox Meah Shearim
neighborhood.
His return to the entertain-
ment world resulted from a
chance encounter on the
streets of Jerusalem. The pro-
ducer of Galpaz Records ap-
proached Ben-Ami and en-
couraged him to begin sing-
ing again. Ben-Ami, after
careful consideration, even-
tually agreed to record the
songs of the Bratslav
Chassidim, but insisted that
only professional musicians
with classical music back-
grounds accompany him; and
that the musicians not use
electronic instruments. He
wanted to present Chassidic
songs as they were composed
and intended to be sung.
Ben-Ami's Songs of Rabbi
Nachman of Bratslav was pro-
duced by Galpaz Records,
Jerusalem, in 1985. Since
then, he has made concert ap-
pearances throughout Israel
and has appeared on Israel
television.
Ben-Ami explains that

many of the Chassidic
melodies he sings were com-
posed by Nachman of
Bratslav, who died in 1811 at
the age of 39. A few of the
melodies are even older, hav-
ing first been sung by the
Baal Shem lby, founder of
Chassidim and Nachman's
great-grandfather. The "new-
est" melody on the tape, It is
Forbidden to Despair, was
written half a century ago,
and became a symbol of hope
to the Jews of Europe during
the Holocaust.

Nachman of Bratslav
taught that man faces many
obstacles, but he must cling
to faith, encouragement, joy,
song, dance and a longing for
direct contact with his
Creator. The movement
Nachman founded continued
after his death, and today is
centered in Jerusalem and in
B'nai Brak.
Ben-Ami sees little con-
tradiction between the life of
the Bratslav Chassidim and
his own secular Zionist
background. Born on Moshav
Nahalal, he is a third-
generation Israeli. Ben-Ami
points out that Nachman of
Bratslav was a Zionist, who
wrote that every step he took
brought him closer to Eretz
Yisrael. Only in Israel,
Nachman, taught, is it possi-
ble to fulfill all of the mitzvot
(commandments).

While acknowledging the
secular sources in the modern
Zionist movement, Ben-Ami
believes that Zionism without
religion ultimately is in-
complete. "Today, Jews
without Torah see no reason
to live in Eretz Yisrael."

World Zionist Press Service

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