Sing for the cure

A New York ‘jazz rabbi’ joins a Rabbi Kook disciple to raise money to fight cancer.

the New York jazz band 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
the New York jazz band 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In 1935, on Elul 3 according to the Hebrew calendar, Rabbi Avraham Itzchak Hacohen Kook, the chief Ashkenazi rabbi of Palestine, died of cancer in Jerusalem. A group of Israeli and American musicians have recorded songs popular with the pioneers of the second, third and fourth aliyot so beloved by Rabbi Kook, and have posted them at (PFAC).
“We are hoping to raise a lot of tzedaka [charity] for the search for a cure for cancer by offering this music as a download in thanks for a donation to Pioneers For A Cure,” explains Rav Kook disciple Rabbi Itzchak Marmorstein. “Rav Kook’s poem ‘Whispers of Existence’ speaks of ‘A generation [that] will come alive and sing to beauty and to life.’ May we be that generation.”
Marmorstein and the New York jazz band led by Rabbi Greg Wall, Later Prophets, are in the midst of a six-concert tour across Israel beginning February 1 called “Masa Ha’orot” (“The Journey of the Lights”) – their jazz interpretation of Rabbi Kook’s mystical poetry. Proceeds from the PFAC concerts will be donated to the Israel Cancer Association.
The band consists of Greg Wall, “the jazz rabbi,” performing saxophone, clarinet and shofar; Shai Bachar of Jerusalem and New York playing keyboard; Gilad Abro, one of Israel’s hottest jazz musicians on bass; Ilan Katchke of Tel Aviv on drums; and Marmorstein himself as a spoken word vocalist.
“The impetus for this tour is to introduce to Israel ‘Pioneers For A Cure – Songs To Fight Cancer,’ an innovative on-line tzedaka project fighting cancer through the power of music,” explains Marmorstein.
PFAC was initiated in 2008 to raise funds in support of an array of 33 organizations including the Israel Cancer Association that are pioneering new methods of cancer treatment and research. PFAC’s “The Postcard Project” was inspired by the postcards used to disseminate the music of the pioneers in the decades preceding the birth of Israel. Those songs were originally commissioned by the Jewish National Fund to create a folk-music sound track to the formation of the nascent state. The words and melodies, printed on postcards, were mailed across Palestine, the Middle East and Europe.
In 2009, PFAC released the single “Am Yisrael Chai,” featuring more than 40 performers. The project continues to record nostalgic, public domain songs. Each artist selects a cancer charity to receive the proceeds from the downloads of his or her song. Songs are made available on the organization’s website for a minimum donation.
The Later Prophets will be performing at Jerusalem’s Beit Avi Chai on Monday, February 7, together with Arab rock ’n’ roller Bassam Beroumi. The following day, the finale of the six-concert tour will take place at Tel Aviv’s Merkaz Einav, featuring well-known Israeli artists who have recorded songs for the project, such as David Broza, Shai Gabso and Ariel Horowitz.
Tickets are a minimum suggested donation of NIS 50 for adults and NIS 30 for students. For more information contact Rabbi Marmorstein at 054-819-2391.