Raichel Returns for Yom Ha'atzmaut

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Israeli musician, singer Raichel returns for Yom Ha’atzmaut

Article reprinted with permission from the Cleveland Jewish News.

By Amanda Koehn

Raichel performed at Cleveland's Yom Ha'atzmaut celebration in 2015. He was such a hit that the Jewish Federation of Cleveland is bringing him back May 2.

For Israeli musician and singer Idan Raichel, a few themes run across his 15 years of recording albums: collaboration, culture and emotional connection to the audience.

After first playing at Cleveland’s Yom Ha’atzmaut, or Israel’s Independence Day, celebration in 2015, Raichel will return May 2 for this year’s Jewish Federation of Cleveland festivities at Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights. And while last time he performed as part of his longtime band, the Idan Raichel Project, this time he is on his first solo tour for his personal piano-based album, “At the Edge of the Beginning.”

“I really miss the family – the second family – of the Idan Raichel Project, but I feel that I am finding my inner voice,” Raichel said in an audio interview he recorded while in Austria. “It's one of the most important and exciting musical experiences (where) I explored myself and my limits."

Raichel is an Israel native who got his start playing in the Israel Defense Forces army band during his mandatory service. In 2002, he released his first album as part of the Idan Raichel Project, which was self-titled. The band fuses together electronic and traditional Hebrew music with a variety of other cultural music such as Ethiopian and Arabic sounds, as Raichel often collaborates with musicians of such cultures.

More than 150 musicians and singers from all over the world have performed with the Raichel, which he said helps him connect with other cultures and breaks down barriers that could otherwise be divisive.

“I do think that music has the ability to connect people, to cross cultures, to build bridges between nations and beliefs and religions,” he said, adding that he has collaborated with artists who are “against Israel” or have vastly different personal beliefs than he does. “We put the music first and this is actually our chance to cross this border between us – increase the bond between us – through music.”

Raichel grew up as a secular Jew, although he said religious aspects are more naturally ingrained in his culture in Israel than in the U.S. Moreover, he said although he has influences all over the world, some American artists who inspire him are Paul Simon, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Jay Z.

Adena and Jonny Klineman, co-chairs for the Federation’s Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration, said they enjoyed Raichel’s 2015 Yom Ha’atzmaut performance and look forward to his return, specifically noting the “multi-cultural experience” he created.

“We love the idea of connecting our Yom Ha'atzmaut celebration here with popular trends in Israel,” the Klinemans said together in an email. “He's engaging, intriguing and a terrific musician.”

Prior to Raichel’s performance, Yom Ha’atzmaut’s free family festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. and include activities such as Israeli dancing, food, an Israeli marketplace and kid’s activities – also at Landerhaven. Israel Defense Forces soldiers also will visit.

The “Blue & White Party” also will be at Landerhaven prior to the concert for those in their 20s and 30s. It starts at 6 p.m. and admission is $12 in advance and $18 at the door, which includes a drink ticket and dinner. Attendees are encouraged to wear blue and white attire.

The Klinemans said they expect more than 2,000 people to attend Yom Ha’atzmaut festivities and about 150 to attend the Blue & White Party.

“Of course we hope the event connects people to Israel and Israeli culture here in Cleveland,” the Klinemans said.

Doors for the concert open at 7 and the show starts at 7:45.

Raichel called Cleveland “one of the greatest places to come back to.”

He said, “First word that will come to me is maybe, ‘open-minded’ or ‘very warm-hearted’ people,” adding that although many of the songs are in Hebrew, a few are in English and all are meant to be accessible for a wide audience.

Raichel also is in the midst of a U.S. tour, thus is used to communicating with audiences in a way that transcends language barriers. Such abilities are demonstrated in the fact that he not only played with American artist India Arie for former President Barack Obama on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., in 2009, but Obama later invited Raichel to play a private concert for him on a visit to Israel in 2013.

“It was absolutely an honor that just you know, sometimes, you end up with the word 'fun.’"

Yom Ha'atzmaut: Israel’s Independence Day celebration

  • WHO: Israeli musician Idan Raichel
  • WHEN: Celebration activities begin at 5:30 p.m. May 2. Doors open for concert at 7, concert begins at 7:45.
  • WHERE: Landerhaven, 6111 Landerhaven Drive, Mayfield Heights
  • INFO: Free and open to the public, but registration is required at jewishcleveland.org/news/event_rsvp/yom_haatzmaut. Tickets to be mailed. No large backpacks or purses permitted.

Blue & White Party: Israel Independence Day celebration for Clevelanders in their 20s and 30s

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