Courtesy Naftali Ka lfa
arts & entertainment
Canadian Israeli singer's new single
seeks to give new meaning to the holiday — and every day.
n time for Purim 2014, popular
Israeli-Canadian singer and composer
Naftali Kalfa seeks to give everyday
relevance to the Jewish holiday's age-old
story with his recently released single,
Written by Kalfa, and recorded along-
side well-known Israeli singer Gad Elbaz
and Jewish reggae singer-songwriter
Ari Lesser, a native of Cleveland, Ohio,
"Miracles" is a song thanking God for
saving the Jewish people living in ancient
Persia who were slated for annihilation at
the hands of King Ahasuerus' second-in-
command, Haman the Agagite.
The story of the miraculous salvation of
Persian Jewry is recorded in the biblical
Book of Esther and is customarily read by
Jews all over the world on Purim in com-
memoration of those events.
In an interview with JNS.org , Kalfa
explains that the song — which includes
sections in both Hebrew and English
— not only focuses on Purim and other
miracles throughout Jewish history that
are detailed in the Bible but also seeks
to "inspire us to think about the small
miracles that happen in this world every
"How many people wake up in the
morning and mean it when they recite
the `Modeh Ani' prayer, thanking God
for returning our souls back to us?" Kalfa
The lyrics of Kalfa's song express his
strong sentiment that Jews shouldn't take
"small miracles" for granted, whether
it's waking up in the morning, having a
properly functioning body or being able
to earn a livelihood. He says that these
everyday activities and others all warrant
an expression of thanks to God.
The new single comes on the heels
of the release of Kalfa's latest album, a
double-CD titled The Naftali Kalfa Project
(available on Amazon and iTunes), which
features 28 original compositions and
orchestrated songs alongside some of the
most established and well-known names
in the world of Jewish music today.
Musical collaborations feature artists
including Shlomo Katz, Yossi Piamenta,
Yehuda Glantz, Gad Elbaz, Yosef Chaim
Shwekey, Lenny Solomon, Benny Elbaz,
Yehuda Solomon, Shyne and many others.
"These songs are part of me, like my
children — and many of them were
inspired by my children:' says Kalfa, a
native of Toronto who splits his time
between Canada and Israel and is a father
With styles spanning numerous
genres, from cantorial music to rock,
Kalfa drew inspiration for the music on
his new album from the Book of Psalms
and prayers, with songs like "This Time
Next Year:' taken from the Passover
Hagaddah, and the Yom Kippur-
derived %don Haselichot" ("Master of
But he also focused on the strong
Jewish spirit to persevere, with songs like
"Refaenu" ("Heal Us"), "Ten Li Koach"
("Give Me Strength"), "Bridges" and "I
"The uniqueness of this album is that it
welcomes the talents of a diverse collec-
tion of artists while being inspired by an
underlying love for music and connection
to HaShem that is at the heart of every-
thing we do as singers and composers:'
"It's been a real honor to bring
together so many people for this
project, and I'm confident that
listeners will feel that sense of passion
within each and every song:"
Kalfa, 33, whose debut album, Yihyu
Liratzon, was recorded in collaboration
with brothers Yossi and Avi Piamenta, says
his passion for music started as a young
"I was always the guy in the synagogue
standing next to the chazan (cantor) or at
weddings trying to understand what the
band was doing:' he says.
Kalfa says he has had a wide array
of influences on his career, from Elvis
Presley, Eric Clapton and the Rolling
Stones to some of the most well-known
names in the world of Jewish music, such
as Avraham Fried and Mordechai Ben
His first recorded composition was
a cover of the popular Simon and
Garfunkel classic "The Sound of Silence,"
titled "V'ani Tefilati" ("I Am My Prayer"),
which he says came to him on a road trip
with friends in the U.S.
The singer adds that at least half of the
songs on the new album "were composed
during Friday afternoon pre-Shabbat `jam-
sessions:" which he attends regularly with
a group of musically talented friends in
his Israeli community of Ma'ale Adumim.
While Kalfa does some live-perfor-
mance touring, appearing at concerts and
other events in Israel and abroad, he says
that he performs live "as little as possible
preferring to spontaneously compose.
But he admits that some of the most ful-
filling moments in his career have includ-
ed playing live — whether in front of
However, professional dancer
that was created for the Nickelodeon
TV show of the same name (it ran
from 2009-2013). Maslow, who was
raised in his father's Jewish faith, was
a bar mitzvah.
Also dancing are Detroit-area
natives Charlie White and Meryl
Davis (she'll be paired with Maxim
Chmerkovskiy), the ice dancing team
that just won the Olympic gold medal.
Canadian Israeli singer Naftali Kalfa
Israel Defense Forces soldiers at the Gaza
border (during 2012's Operation Pillar of
Defense), "trying to give them the joy of
music as they waited to go into battle"; at
a high school for troubled teenage girls; or
at an old-age home in front of his grand-
mother and the other residents.
"Visiting my grandmother while sing-
ing and bringing in the guitar to the
old-age home, to me, that means more
than playing in front of 5,000 fans, or
even in Madison Square Garden:' he says.
Referring to his visit with the soldiers
during Pillar of Defense, Kalfa says, "That
experience really touched my neshama
Kalfa admits that the world of Jewish
music is a difficult business and that "only
the guys at the very top are the ones able
to make a good living:' To compensate, he
is involved in other business ventures.
Yet he hopes that one day, he can dedi-
cate all of his time to his music and says
that it's really not about the money.
"All the music I make is for my neshama
and comes from the neshama," Kalfa says.
"I'm just an imperfect Jew who aspires
to improve and to work toward being the
best person I can be he says. "I hope that
my music can inspire:'
Download "Miracles" for just 99
cents at www.cdbaby.com/cd/
Special to the Jewish News
On Their Toes
The new season of ABC's Dancing
with the Stars premieres at 8 p.m.
Monday, March 17. Brooke Burke-
Charvet, 42, the co-host of DWTS
since March 2010, has been replaced
by Fox sportscaster Erin Andrews.
Burke-Charvet was kept in the
dark about her replacement until the
last minute: "I've seen my fair share
of shocking eliminations in the ball-
room," she said, "but this one takes
the cake." She bravely added that
she could pursue other opportunities
now that her obligation to DWTS had
March 13 • 2014
Maxim Chmerkovskiy, 34, is returning
to the show after a two-year hiatus.
His brother, Valentin, 27, who has
been with DWTS since 2011, also is
The pros will be put on their toes
this season by a new twist, called the
"Switch-Up." A celeb will be switched
to a different pro for one week during
the season. Audience
votes will determine
the new pairings.
The only Jewish
celeb dancer this
season is James
Maslow, 23, a mem-
ber of Big Time Rush,
a popular boy band
Crisis premieres at 10 p.m. Sunday,
March 16, on NBC. The premise: A
school van carrying teen students
who attend an elite Washington,
D.C., private school is stopped on a
secluded road, and the students and
their chaperones are kidnapped by
terrorists. The teens include the kids
of many powerful people, including
Halston Sage, 20,
plays Amber Fitch,
one of the teens.
Amber believes her
mother to be Meg
a powerful CEO,
but her real mother
is Susie (Rachael
Taylor), a lead FBI
Also in the "kidnapped" cast: Max
Schneider, 21, a former male model,
musician and Nickelodeon series
actor, as Ian Martinez; and Joshua
Ehrenberg, 13, as Anton Roth.