Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Songs that Built Israel: Pioneers for a Cure

I don't usually pass along press releases verbatim, but this time I'm going to. It's from Miriam of Stereo Sinai and I find it fascinating at a number of levels. I'll get that in a minute, but first, Miriam....

"Stereo Sinai recently contributed a track to an ambitious new project, Pioneers for a Cure. Today, in honor of Israel's 61st birthday, that project is being released!

Download Stereo Sinai's contribution here for a donation of only $1.99 on behalf of the American Lung Assocation:

Producer Greg Wall and the enigmatic "Difficult Jew," along with an amazing team of artists, have recreated a piece of Jewish history in order to change the world today- the immediate goal is to raise $100,000 for cancer research through the sale of downloaded songs.

Before the State of Israel was established, its residents were a motley mix, speaking many different languages and representing many different cultures. If there was going to be a Jewish state, there needed to be something holding these people together. What better way than through music? Karen Kayamet L'Yisrael (known today in the States as JNF) commissioned songwriters to create simple Hebrew folk tunes that spoke to the early Zionist experience. The sheet music to these songs was then printed on the back of a postcard and mailed out to Jewish leaders and organizations in Palestine and beyond.

"Pioneers for a Cure" echoed this effort by sending each of its artists sheet music to one of these original pioneer songs via email. The contributing artists (an all-star line-up consisting of David Broza, Pharoah's Daughter, Y-Love and Diwon, Dov Rosenblatt, Lorin Sklamberg of the Klezmatics, and many, many more) each chose a cancer charity to which they'd like the funds from their song directed.

Alan and I were offered the song "Purim Hayom." It's fitting for Stereo Sinai because, first, Purim is Alan's favorite holiday, and second, Purim also features a couple of the coolest biblical women ever to grace the page- Esther and Vashti.

We chose the American Lung Association as our charity for a couple of reasons. First of all, Alan's grandparents (zichronam l'bracha) both died of complications due to lung cancer. Also, the mother of one of my best friends also died from lung cancer. None of these people smoked a day in their lives. It's an issue that's close to home, and we're ready to do our part to end this disease.

We are honored, humbled, and thankful to be a part of this incredible project. Please take a moment to download our song, "Purim Hayom," as well as any other that speak to you. Be a pioneer."
Ok, first of all, my congrats to Greg Wall, of one of my long time favorite groups Hasidic New Wave, for the vision and the fortitude to carry it off and to Stereo Sinai and the other Jewish music groups for participating. I love seeing artists being actively involved in their community. Second, I find the choice of material fascinating. The pioneer musical postcards story is a new one for me and I'm going to have to research it more. It's a great story of how artists can work together, in this case actively sponsored, to help define a culture. It's also a great story about how Israeli grew to become something distinct from the rest of world Diaspora Jewery. Finally, the fact that Wall adopted the pioneer postcards as the basis for the charity project is a great story about the continuing interaction between Israeli and Diaspora Jewish identity.

So go to the Pioneers for a Cure website, listen to the tracks and download them. There's a lot of great music there and it's for a bunch of good causes. You can also learn more about Pioneers for a Cure in this Jewish Week article, this audio podcast, and in Wall's "Pioneer Producer" blog.

1 comment:

Stereo Sinai said...

Thanks so much for posting this exciting project. It was an honor to work on it with so many talented, accomplished artists, and I truly hope it does what it has set out to do!