Tzahi Gavrielli 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Call it the the Maccabiah Games of the musical competition world.
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that hallowed institution has been bringing together the world’s top Jewish
athletes to compete against each other since before the founding of the state,
the organizers of Hallelujah, a newly launched global song contest for Jews aged
16 to 26, are hoping that their endeavor will establish a new musical tradition
for world Jewry that will strengthen the connection with the
Backed by a coalition of government bodies and agencies
including the Foreign Ministry, the Jewish Agency, MASA Israel Journey, the
Ramat Hasharon Municipality and Nativ, the Hallelujah initiative was launched
this month, calling on Diaspora singers to send in video clips of themselves
performing in Hebrew or in their native language.
Thirty lucky finalists
will be chosen by a group of judges – including singers Yehoram Gaon, David
Broza, Achinoam Nini and Hanan Yovel, and DJ Skazi and musical producer Kobi
Oshrat – to fly to Israel in August for three weeks of guided tours, musical
boot camp with leading Israeli singers and an American Idol-styled
It will culminate in a live final on August 25 from the
Ramat Hasharon Tennis Center stadium that will be streamed online and on one of
the TV channels.
“Hallelujah was established to help cope with the
worrisome phenomenon of young Jews in the Diaspora distancing themselves from
Israel and Judaism,” the chairman of Hallelujah’s volunteer public executive
team, Tzahi Gavrieli, said on Thursday.
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“It’s clear to us that in order
to connect them anew, we have to use unconventional means, and Hallelujah is one
of them. That’s why we’re not just settling for a contest and an impressive
final. Our plan is to broadcast – on television and Internet – the experiences
of the participants from the moment they take off to Israel until their
participation in the final, in order to forge solidarity with Israel among the
young Jewish communities of the world,” he said.
According to Gavrieli, a
former adviser to Prime Ministers Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert, the winner
of the Hallelujah contest will receive a cash prize, career and management
consultation with an established talent agency, the opportunity to record a duet
with one of the country’s most famous artists, and the chance to go on tour
performing for the Jewish world.
The organizing partners have begun
blanketing their constituencies via e-mails and Facebook pages with
announcements of the competition, and more than 100 video auditions have already
been received, said Gavrieli, adding that the deadline for submitting a song is
(Audition tapes can be sent in via www.hallelujah.org.il.)
“Applicants can sing in any language, but if they are chosen among the 30,
they’ll have to sing in Hebrew in the finals here in Israel. That’s what it’s
all about, connecting the youngsters with Israel. But at first we don’t want to
limit them or us.
“We’re looking for Jewish singers, whether they’re
singing Lady Gaga or “Shir Hama’alot,” he said.
A sampling of audition
tapes on the competition’s website revealed a cross section of applicants. Tessa
Rosenberg from Australia chose to sing a soulful pop tune in Hebrew, American
Joshua Tobias sang a gospel song in English, and Nicole Raviv from Canada
offered a Broadway show tune, also in English.
As to the thorny question
of what constitutes a “Jewish singer,” Gavrieli admitted that the vetting
process won’t be as stringent as the Chief Rabbinate’s.
“We’re not going
to deal with the issue too deeply.
The 30 finalists will be asked to
provide a letter from their synagogue – whether it’s Orthodox, Conservative or
Reform, or some other Jewish institution in their community vouching for them,”
“We want them to reconnect, and we can’t put barriers and
filters in the way. We’re not talking about a conversion process
Confident that the competition will become an annual event,
Gavrieli is already planning Hallelujah 2012.
“We believe that Hallelujah
will connect Hebrew music and the State of Israel to hundreds of thousands of
Jewish youth around the world each year, and we call on additional Jewish
organizations to come aboard our initiative.”
Can we get a ‘hallelujah’
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