‘Jewish Idol:’ strengthening Jewish identity through music

Short clip: Ahead of the finals in Ramat Hasharon, Tzahi Gavrieli, chairman of the Hallelujah singing competition talks to 20 Questions about zionisim and the appeal of Israel to Jewsih youth.

By DEBORAH DANAN
August 25, 2011 12:18
2 minute read.

 
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To see the full interview, click here.

Reality television may not have the greatest reputation, but Public Management Chairman Tzahi Gavrieli and the rest of the Hallelujah contest’s organizers are seeking to do away with the over-the-top flashiness of popular televised singing contests, instead choosing to focus on Jewish morality and identity.

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'Hallelujah’ puts a blue-and-white spin on singing contests

“When you have a real thing in your hand, when you have something that relates to your morals, to your values, you don’t need all of this glitz and glamor,” Gavrieli said. “In Hallelujah, we aim for the most basic thing: your identity.” 


The contestants in Hallelujah come from Jewish communities around the world and, because of its broad talent pool, Gavrieli hopes Hallelujah will have a global reach. Strengthened aliyah rates and a boosted image of Israel around the world will be byproducts of the competition, but those results are not the primary goals of Hallelujah, according to Gavrieli.

By holding and documenting Hallelujah, which will be broadcast worldwide via YouTube and locally on Channels 1 and 2, Gavrieli hopes to “inspire masses of youngsters in the Jewish world towards music, towards Hebrew and towards Israel.”

Gavrieli sees the Hallelujah competition as a new platform, unique from singing competitions held in other countries, targeting the Facebook culture of the world’s Jewish youth while promoting the exploration of their Jewish roots.

While the final votes will be cast by judges, the public will be able to vote in a "crowd’s-favorite" category through the competition’s Facebook application. In future years, according to Gavrieli, the top three contestants could be selected by the public instead of judges.

Following the recent arrest of Kokhav Nolad judge Margalit (Margol) Tzanani, reality television may seem to be losing its meaning. Recognizing that reality television competitions can quickly become popularity contests, Gavrieli urged the public to “aim to the human and not to the popularity or beauty.”

Gavrieli noted “a unique phenomenon” in that the participants in Hallelujah have been supportive of their competitors, cheering on their fellow singers, perhaps because of their shared Jewish roots. The Jewish roots of Hallelujah are a common theme that Gavrieli notes is woven throughout the competition, informing the participants’ motivations and performances.

“It’s not a usual contest. It’s much more than that,” Gavrieli said. “For them, it’s much more than a musical contest, it’s a life experience."

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