Voice Of Our People
With music rooted in the Israeli and Jewish experience, Chava Alberstein
performs at the Royal Oak Theatre.
Special to the Jewish News
."cultural products" coming from Israel.
Though she has two concerts in
Germany and one in Switzerland at
the end of October, this child of
Holocaust survivors can't help but
recall previous European boycotts.
Noting that European performers are
canceling their appearances in Israel,
she says, "I can't blame them if it is
about security or safety, but some of
them are also talking about political
Alberstein is taken aback when told
that on the weekend after her Royal
Oak appearance, a conference at the
University of Michigan will compare
Israel to apartheid South Africa to
encourage divestment from Israel. She
seems to expect that kind of thing from
Europe, not from the United States.
"I think it is a very big exaggera-
tion," she says, acknowledging there
are many efforts to "somehow making
Israel the worst;- the reason for all the
bad things that happen in the world.
"It's too easy. But I understand how
we look like the bad guys, and the
Palestinians look very weak, which
they are. But the whole thing is not
I is the beginning of a new year,
and we try to believe in the cal-
endar and not in the news."
It's a creative way to look at
things, and Israeli musician Chava
Alberstein is one of her country's most
enduring and creative voices.
It is natural to prefer the hopeful
promise of Rosh Hashanah to the jar-
ring reality of the newspaper's front
page, CNN or, for Alberstein and other
Israelis, the explosion down the street.
But life means living with both.
Alberstein, who brings her concert to
the Royal Oak Theatre on Thursday,
Oct. 10, is a child of Israel whose life
and career are intertwined with her
Born in Poland in 1948, the same
year as the establishment of the Jewish
state, Alberstein moved to Israel with
her family at age 4. Though far
removed from the tents and tin huts of
the transit camps that were her first
homes, this international star remains
deeply rooted in the Israeli and Jewish
In fact, when a reviewer called
Chava Alber stein: Her Oct. M performance is part of Daniel Pearl Music Day, a
Alberstein "a rare combination of pas-
series of world wide concerts falling on the late Wall Street journalists. 39th birthday
sion, sensitivity, anger and intellect" or
Singing World Music
in a common stand for tolerance, humanity and friendship.
described her voice as "alternately light,
Alberstein's most recent visit to the
sweet, growling, tragic and joyous ...
Detroit area was in 1998 for Israel's
"It's funny," she says with a little chuckle. "We are
drawing on a bottomless well of feeling," they could
50th anniversary, a Yom HaAtzmaut concert spon-
always speaking about taking time off and going
just as correctly be describing Israel and her people.
sored by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan
away for a few months, and now that the times are
"It is a very difficult period here, a very difficult
Detroit at the Detroit Opera House. In a solo set,
so bad, we don't even think about leaving. We have*
period. Basically, we are very tired," Alberstein says
and during a rousing closing number with fellow
family, we have friends, we have children and you
in a tone consistent with her words during a tele-
featured entertainers Peter, Paul & Mary, she
just can't leave [them] and go away."
phone interview with the Jewish News from her
brought the crowd to their feet.
While Alberstein, who is married to Israeli filmmaker
home in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Hasharon.
Though she was in Detroit for a very short time,
Nadav Levitan, at times has been embroiled in contro-
"Tired of all the tension, of all the worries, the
she says, "It is a good memory. Everyone was very
versy for criticizing Israeli policy and actions, she also
threats and the frustrations, of being unable to do
doesn't want to be far from home when so many impor- nice and it was exciting to perform with one of my
what you think is right to do and [unable] to stop
idols." This time in Detroit, she says, "I hope to have
tant questions about Israel's future await resolution.
people from doing what you think is wrong."
time to see things."
"Though you may have criticisms and questions
Her upcoming visit was at the request of the
to ask, it's not time to leave now," she says. Ever
Royal Oak Theatre, which sought her out. Likely it
hopeful, she insists, "It's time to wait, and maybe if
Far From The Land She Loves
is due to her growing prominence as a performer of
something starts to change, we can be a part of it."
As Alberstein prepares for her brief North American
"world music" and the growth of the entire genre.
Alberstein is dismayed that many European coun-
tour, with stops in L.A., Atlanta and Boston among
It also comes soon after her signing with Rounder
tries have canceled most of the concerts and cultural
impulses pull on her as they do
Records, a well-respected and eclectic label that she
events that featured Israelis.
on all Isra elis. While she welcomes the opportunity
calls "a good home for this kind of music."
"It is bad for us, and it is bad for them," she
to travel abroad and perform, she isn't eager to bear declares, explaining that she recently received an e-
But, at the same time, she isn't totally comfortable
from Israel right now.
with the term "world music," noting that in Israel and
mail informing her of an effort in Norway to ban all