It’s not so nice to be 70

Rishon Lezion Festival to feature all-star tribute to Yehonatan Geffen

YEHONATAN AND Aviv (right) Gefen share mutual admiration. (photo credit: YOSSI ALTERMAN)
YEHONATAN AND Aviv (right) Gefen share mutual admiration.
(photo credit: YOSSI ALTERMAN)
Most middle-aged Israelis grew up to the iconic Yehonatan Geffen-penned all-star album Hakeves Hashisha’asar [The 16th Sheep], and no song typified the wistful wisdom of the album more than the Gidi Gov- and Yehudit Ravitz- sung “Gan Sagor” – with its line “It’s not so nice to see a closed kindergarten.”
Geffen and his son, Aviv Geffen, have turned that phrase on its head by naming the upcoming musical celebration of the elder Geffen’s 70th birthday “It’s Not So Nice to Be 70.”
The show, featuring a staggering array of Israeli talent, will be standout event of the Rishon Lezion Festival, Israel’s largest music festival, taking place during Succot (October 5-10).
Meeting journalists at his father’s house in Tel Aviv on Monday, Aviv Geffen recalled seeing father create some of the poems and lyrics that have become part of the Israeli canon.
“As a child I used to sit at home and see Dad sitting in the kitchen at his great typewriter, writing away. I tried not to disturb or make noise because it always felt like my father was working on something important. He looked serious and was concentrated. Occasionally I would grab him for a hug when he got up to go to the fridge or went to fetch something from the next room,” said Geffen.
“When I grew up I realized that he had actually been creating on his typewriter in the kitchen. He created little princes and sheep, and with great concern, using his imagination and wisdom, he put words on paper with that big typewriter that people would then embrace and hold close to their hearts for life. I, the child, took on the role of trying to connect all the dots in father’s world. With my father, it was like connecting all the stars in the sky to create some picture.
“I decided to turn to the great artists who collaborated with my father over the years. I must say that I have never experienced such a broad and loving response.
“One by one, Shalom Hanoch, Yehuda Poliker, Matti Caspi, Gidi Gov, David Broza, Danny Litani, Corinne Allal, Yael Levy, Shem Tov Levi, Shlomo Yidov – all together. Shira [Geffen’s sister], I and of course abba [Dad], will read some old and new pieces.
And now I will find myself on the side of the stage, guarding my father from disturbances and having fallen in love with the great typewriter, the vehicle that actually put on paper all those stories over the years.”
In addition to the Geffens’ tour de force, the Rishon festival will be celebrating its 30th anniversary with over 100 artists, ensembles and musicians, including Eyal Golan, Amir Dadon, Glykeria, David Broza, Daklon, Friends of Natasha, Harel Skaat, Zehava Ben, Haim Moshe, Yehuda Poliker, The Tree House, Yael Levy, Marina Maximilian, Miri Meskia, Mosh Ben- Ari, Moshe Peretz, Sagiv Cohen and Zvika Pick. The shows will take place throughout Rishon including at the Lev Park, the Mann Auditorium, the Quarter, the City Hall Square, Beit Ha’am and the pedestrian mall.
Friends of Natasha will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the master album Changes in Screaming, Danny Sanderson will perform as a special guest of the IDF Orchestra and Ariel Zilber will be a special guest of the Rishon