Orphaned Land guitarist Yossi Sassi 370.
(photo credit: Sammy Hudes)
At the closing ceremony of the 19th Maccabiah, which takes place tonight at Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium, both athletes and guests will be treated to performances by Infected Mushroom, Balkan Beat Box, The Young Professionals and Orphaned Land, in addition to DJ Offer Nissim and singer Riff Cohen.
Ronen Peled Hadad, director of this year’s closing ceremony, said the show will be far less formal and protocol-based than past closing ceremonies, with limited speeches.
“It’s official, but it’s not so official. People are coming here to have a nice experience and to go home and to remember this is the last night they are here,” said Peled Hadad, who directed the Maccabiah opening ceremony in 2001 and 2005.
“They’re not calling it a party but it’s a kind of big party,” he said, referring to the ceremony as an “international show.”
Yossi Sassi, a guitarist and composer for Orphaned Land, said the band was honored to be playing at the closing ceremony. “I have a lot of respect for the games,” Sassi said. “For me it was always our Olympics. It was the Jewish Olympics and it was a lot of pride for me as a Jew to grow up in Israel and know we have something like that for us.”
Sassi described Orphaned Land’s style of music as a “fusion of rock and metal elements,” mixed with traditional poems and Psalms.
While delegations and fans from across the world will be in attendance for the show, Sassi said the opportunity to perform at the ceremony might actually help to expand the group’s reputation at home in Israel, noting they are already well-known in places like Turkey and France.
“Our music, because it’s more niche music, became quite popular for some groups abroad, while in Israel it’s a matter of population,” Sassi said. “We have less population so if you’re not a pop singer, if you’re not hitting the charts, you’re less known.”
Israeli singer Riff Cohen, who currently lives and works in France, will be performing two of her most popular songs in French, “A Paris,” and “J’aime.”
“They are very happy songs. You can dance with it and the lyrics are very openminded,” Cohen said.
She added that she is very excited to be performing in her home country.
“It’s still very important to me to be here in Israel although I’m not living here anymore,” Cohen said. “It’s something that is very special for me. In the middle of my days in Paris, it’s still a bit a cold and so European and so different from here. I’m very happy to be here and to perform with all these great bands.”
Peled Hadad said the theme of the ceremony will be connecting athletes to their Jewish heritage, noting that the images and decorations that accompany the main stage are distinctly made up of traditional Jewish artwork.
“We are Jews. We know how to celebrate, but I want the young people to have in that celebration an image of Judaism in Israel, and not something that you can find outside,” he said. “I want them to be in the space they know, in the music they know, in the beat that they know, but also to connect them to our roots, our language, and our symbols.”
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