(photo credit: Allie Freedman)
If you did not know any better, you would think you were in an Orthodox village. Turns out, you are in a Tel Aviv night club. Orthodox fans flocked to Barbi Club in South Tel Aviv from all over Israel. They were ready to rock. They were ready to rap. They were even ready to dance the Hora.
They were ready for Eliezer Botzer.
Born into an Orthodox family, Botzer mixes mainstream music with Orthodox values. Married with six children, the rocker is not your typical front-man. Sporting a kippah and tzit tzit, he slowly enters the stage. A red spotlight beams down, covering his face. The band blasts the first chord. He belts out a strong note.
Suddenly it’s clear, Eliezer Botzer is not your average rock-n-roller.
Botzer is an artist, poet and visionary. While proud of his Orthodox upbringing, his music assimilates tradition culture with secular musical styles. With roaring guitar solos, blinding strobe lights and jumps into the audience, Botzer redefines the definition of a Jewish rocker.
“I’m trying to find the right connection and connecting it to the power of reality,” said Botzer. “I want to build a frame using my Orthodox background and mainstream routes. Music allows me to express it. The Orthodox Community gives you a lot of structure. I want to break those barriers.”
Botzer’s father, Aharon Botzer, founded the organization Livnot U'lehibanot. Based in Tzfat, the organization promotes hiking, volunteering and spiritual learning. By growing up in that environment, Botzer developed a strong musical and religious identity.
“Growing up with Livnot helped define me as an artist,” said Botzer. “I realized that I can build an individual path in the global world. I could still be religious while being my own person.”
Botzer’s show promotes his debut album, “Attention. Deficit. Disorder.” Releaseed by top Israeli Gil Samata,the album is all about Botzer’s musical journey. Botzer says he is in a state of “mental exile.” From growing up in an Orthodox community, he wants to break that exile and find his own identity.
“Many artists are looking for change,” says Botzer. “It is very hard to look inside yourself and make that change. That is why it took me a few years to release this album. I wanted to be ready.”
His music from his first album combines rock and rap. His first single from the album is called, “Zion.” This song describes his musical journey as he searches for his true identity. Botzer’s music truly shines from his lyrics. As a poet, he is able to combine his yearn to search and question with his tradition Jewish roots.
Tuesday's performance combined a myriad of musical styles into one. From preaching lyrics to rapping to singing heart felt ballads, the show combined several genres into a single show. With a mostly Orthodox crowd, a group of men started forming their own dance circles in the middle. Botzer even jumped in the crowd to join them at one point.
Orthodox-raised Nina Medved traveled all the way from Tzfat to see the show. As an avid fan, she believes his music carries an important message for the Jewish people.
“One thing I love about his music is the overall message. You really feel like he is trying to shout out to the world,” says Medved. “The lyrics have so much depth and insight, but with a refreshing, modern twist.”
With a growing fan base, Botzer will continue to tour throughout the winter season to promote his new album.