Celebrating Israel: Not just lip service

Sometimes it’s good to make the list. Apparently, I still manage to be on the “Join Us – You Would Do Cool Things” list so when my friend Renana Levine invited me to come to a project planning meeting for a cool video she was coordinating, I agreed without hesitation. Little did I know, this escapade would last four hours after the eight I had already put in at the office. I never saw my little ones that day; besides for that I didn’t regret it at all – nor did my kids. It was very exciting being a part of the next “thing” – and my kids were going to be too. 
What “thing” you ask? The Jerusalem Lip Dub of course. A ''lip dub'', in case you’re not up on the latest in cutting-edge videos, combines lip synching and audio dubbing to make a music video. It is often done in a single unedited shot that travels through different situations and settings. It involves a lot of preparation and coordination. Those four post-work hours were a lot of the preparation and coordination.
Renana and filmmaker Micah Smith had already planned out the storyboard for the Israel Independence Day-themed video. It required dozens of people to walk, march, flag-wave, dance, and, of course, sing their way down the busy pedestrian boulevard of Ben Yehuda Street with meticulous coordination. In that planning meeting there were only about twelve of us so in addition to all that, we had to run like the wind to be different people in the sequence, to allow for the ‘single unedited shot.’ I got a lot of exercise that night.
I sat with Renana afterwards to plan out and cast some of the specific roles that needed to be filled. She needed the little-kid-on-someone’s-shoulders. Well, I could provide the little kid in my seven-year old Yaakov. And in fact I was sure that 14 year-old Ezra would gladly lend his shoulders – along with the rest of him. She needed a guy-riding-in-on-his-bike. Well, I thought 16 year-old Eitan would love to be that guy. And our car has a bike rack, so isn’t that perfect. She needed a bride. I offered my daughter Shyra. She needed a groom. No brainer, I offered Shyra’s boyfriend Gidon. This was starting to sound like the Ben-David Family Lip Dub…
On a beautiful Friday in early March the Lip Dub was ready to be filmed. I put all Shabbat cooking aside as I packed up my clan and lots of props and met up with the core team as well as dozens of others on the busy pedestrian walkway. I realized it wasn’t going to be the Ben-David Family Lip Dub at all. Lots of other families had come out including my friend Chaia’s. Her chayal son played the part of one of the ‘Israeli soldiers’ in the sequence. Altogether, with our blue and white themed shtick, we were generating so much energy and excitement that a number of passersby decided to join in the fun.
We divided into teams, each leader taught his or her team its’ spiel, and then we were ready to roll. Micah started at the top of the boulevard and filmed his way down in a single take. That was just practice. Then we got back in formation and he did that single take for real…! Ah, but it wasn’t perfect, so he did just one more. And another. And a fourth. Okay, I lost count, but I’d say you’d be hard-pressed to call all that a single take… But we all didn’t care. We were doing it, and by golly we were going to do it right. Nobody complained about the multiple takes. Oh yeah, that one little kid was complaining. Oh, and his brother. And there was that other kid… Well you couldn’t blame the kids. They were hungry, and didn’t understand the need for the retakes. Everyone else took it in stride, and maintained the exuberance and excitement throughout the filming.
The best part was the end. As Micah wove his way down the street, filming each progressive setting with its respective Lip-Dubbers, the performers of the previous bit would make their way to the growing gathering of people waiting at the bottom. When Micah finally arrived there, the swelling crowd, including some bystanders who joined in, were energetically waving Israeli flags and singing for all they’ve got. Amazingly, no matter how many retakes, that final excitement only grew with each one.
After the very final take, the performers – most of them strangers to each other, from different walks of life – spontaneously began to sing nationalistic songs and dance together. It was a beautiful sight. It hit me then: I participated so we could be in a cool video. But really it was about being a part of something extraordinary, and uniquely Israel. So many were working together to share a message of love for Israel; yet that message radiated from all of us naturally - regardless of any planning and coordination. The list of participants included Jews of every stripe - Israelis, new Olim and tourists, young and old, religious and secular– now THAT’S one great list I will always be on; with pride.

Laura Ben-David is the author of numerous articles and the book, MOVING UP: An Aliyah Journal, a memoir of her move to Israel. She has done public speaking about Israel and Aliyah all over the United States and Israel. Contact her at [email protected] or follow her tweets at @laurabendavd.