Comic Edan Alterman and his kids charm Israel by singing their hearts out

"The sincerity, love and harmony the three project in these clips is what draws viewers, who are charmed by their unpolished quality," Alterman said.

Idan Alterman and his children Shira, 16, and Uri, 9. (photo credit: Courtesy)
Idan Alterman and his children Shira, 16, and Uri, 9.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A number of musical clips by Israeli families in isolation during the coronavirus crisis have gone, well, viral, and none more so than a series of songs recorded by comedian/actor Edan Alterman with his two children. 
The clips, which have been posted on his Facebook page, his YouTube Channel and Instagram and TikTok accounts, feature covers of mostly English-language pop songs, including tunes by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Depeche Mode, performed by Alterman, his son, Uri, 9, and his daughter Shira, 16. All three sing and Alterman plays guitar and piano, while his son plays clarinet and piano. 
Speaking on a phone call from his home in Tel Aviv, Alterman insisted, “None of us is a real musician . . . we’re not virtuosos.” Shira is a dance student at the Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts who just started singing recently. But the sincerity, love and harmony the three project in these clips is what draws viewers, who are charmed by their unpolished quality. Alterman simply films them with an iPhone propped up on books. “I think people can relate to the simplicity.”
While Alterman has dabbled in music, he is best known for comedy and acting —in television series such as Life Isn’t Everything and movies that include Joseph Cedar’s Time of Favor — the songs mostly are a great way for his family to stay close during the days at home, he said. They began performing together last year but have stepped up the pace of making videos since the pandemic began.
While some of their recent releases are simply relaxing and sweet, like a cover of the Beatles’s “Fool on the Hill,” others teasingly reference the crisis, including covers of MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” and Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence.” Following Bill Withers’s recent death, they covered his signature hit, “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone.” They are planning to record more songs, possibly Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Eye in the Sky” by the Alan Parsons Project. 
“We’re doing this just for fun and I think people can sense that,” he said. “Part of the reason it went so viral and is so successful is because people know me. . . people like to see celebs in their natural habitat.”
Alterman insisted that in spite of the popularity of the videos, “It’s just a hobby. . . We don’t rehearse at all. Uri learns the chords just half an hour before we play, on ‘Wild Horses’ it was just five minutes before. . . We don’t use a microphone at all.”
Alterman, who speaks fluent, barely accented English thanks to his Canadian mother, said the decision to record mostly English tunes was mutual. “My kids prefer songs in English. They grew up on the Beatles and Stevie Wonder and the Stones.” His children have been enriching their English vocabulary through the songs. 
The clips have brought the family a great deal of media attention, so much that Alterman hesitated before doing our interview, because he is so booked up with press lately. 
A divorced dad, he says police officers sometimes stop him on the way to see his kids and ask what he’s doing out — divorced parents picking up and dropping off their children are among the few Israelis allowed to venture more than 100 meters from home even throughout the most restrictive days of the lockdown. “And then they recognize me and say, ‘We really like your songs’”
But while the media spotlight has been intense at times, Alterman is happy that so many have connected to the clips. 
“People have told me, this is the guy who knows how to make lemonade,” he said, referring to the expression about what you do when life gives you lemons. “The quarantine has been an inspiration for togetherness and doing great stuff together instead of watching Netflix all day.”