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Being the spiritual man that he is, Los Angeles-based rocker RebbeSoul (also known as Bruce Burger) usually visits the Western Wall when he comes to Israel. When he gets there, he's amazed that he almost always runs into his friend Eliyahu McLean, a Zen-influenced interfaith activist.
"Israel is that kind of place; mini-miracles like this happen so often," says RebbeSoul of such "coincidences," which have also led to his participation in McClean's prayer-and-drum-circle events on Old City rooftops. "We all have our roles to play during our brief visits to this world, and we can only hope we fulfill them," says RebbeSoul. "I make music. That's my niche."
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RebbeSoul's 2003 album Change the World With a Sound features mixed guitar rock, Reconstructionist theological monologues, Eastern flavors and plenty of hip hop to create a high-concept song suite. His recent collaboration with fellow Californian Sam Glaser, Niggun: Voice of the Soul, explored new manifestations of Hassidism's wordless chants through intense harmonic arrangements, reggae and even guitar heroics. And now RebbeSoul is in the process of relocating his good work to Israel, one concert at a time.
To culminate this weekend's "Leadership for Peace" conference in Jerusalem's Baka neighborhood, a festive Hanukka concert is set to include performances by RebbeSoul, Yair Dalal, Sheikh Ghassan Manasra and members of Eden Mi Qedem on Saturday night. The "Sacred Music for Peace" program is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. with holiday-themed remarks by conference leaders Eva Ariela and Anat Dayan, followed by the musical performances.
In the world music genre, Dalal has made a name for himself as an original composer and a virtuoso on the violin and oud. Eden Mi Qedem's world-groove fusion of edgy guitar rock, Eastern ethnic sounds and electronic rhythms has been making waves since long before this summer's release of the band's debut album, and front man Shmuel Nelson should sound great here with a rare acoustic set. Sheikh Manasra, of the Abraham's Way collective, is known for his moderate criticism of the gap between classical and politicized Islam, as well as his prowess in the world of Sufi chant.
RebbeSoul's participation in this weekend's Leadership for Peace conference represents a new direction for the performer, who plans to make aliya in January. Many hopeful immigrants to Israel participate in career-seeking "pilot trips" before their actual relocation, and this show represents a sort of "pilot gig" for RebbeSoul, who hopes to forge distribution deals for his recordings and eventually become established enough to fly in his American band members for concerts. It was through collaborations with Dalal and post-Carlebach rockers Reva L'Sheva that RebbeSoul first decided on aliya a few years back.
Saturday, 8 p.m., Congregation Kol Ha'Neshama, Rehov Asher 1, Baka, Jerusalem, (02) 672-4878; NIS 60.