On an imaginary bridge between New York and Tel Aviv

When she wakes up in New York, it is midday in Israel, and she sees all the messages from her loved ones there.

Tamar Eisenman (photo credit: SHERVIN LAINEZ)
Tamar Eisenman
(photo credit: SHERVIN LAINEZ)
Primarily singing in English, Tamar Eisenman met a lot of skepticism as a musician in Israel. But since moving to New York City a year-and-a-half ago, the 37-year-old hip-rock guitarist, singer and songwriter has found more openness and understanding.
Though she was very popular in Israel, playing shows of up to 1,000 people and getting songs played on the radio, she often had to justify why she was singing in English.
“I kept hearing people say that I should go to New York, ‘play your music there, people will love that there,’” she told The Jerusalem Post.
Through her music, Eisenman promotes openness, free love and free expression. This message, she says, is received differently in the US than in Israel.
“I feel that in the States there are less borders, so maybe the message goes wider in a way,” she said. “But in another way in Israel, the message goes wider because I am already there for a few years now doing my music, spreading my word, being part of a community in some way or another.”
In some ways, she feels better understood in New York.
“There kind of was an immediate understanding of what we were doing here, we are just playing music, and listening, and creating something together,” she said. “And I don’t have to be a big name in order to achieve that. That is also in the essence of the culture there and I really appreciate that very much.”
And a big name she has yet to achieve. In the US, she is a smaller fish in a much bigger pond.
“I am still on the border, playing my first shows there,” Eisenman said. “Planting the seeds and letting people get familiar with my music and with my message.”
Moving to a foreign country and trying to start a career there has posed certain challenges.
“I miss performing more. And miss not feeling as much as a stranger,” she said.
Since the move, Eisenman has played in cities across the US, including Houston, Minneapolis, and San Francisco, in addition to her base of New York. But she doesn’t have a regular itinerary of shows.
“I do hope to achieve that,” she said. “That is one of my goals.”
The United States is no new terrain for the Jerusalem native. When she was six, Eisenman’s family moved to San Francisco, where she lived for two years. It was there that she first picked up a guitar and started making music. The experience was a difficult one; she had to learn a completely new language and culture.
Returning to the States as an adult has brought about complicated emotions for the musician.
“I try to take those thoughts and energy into a growing structure, point, or inspiration,” she said.
Though she performs less in the US than in Israel, Eisenman has kept busy. She released a compilation album of all her work in English. She produced an album for singer-songwriter Eric Berman, another Israeli-born musician who lives in New York. She’s also still professionally connected to Israel; she comes to Israel twice a year to perform. She wrote and performed music for an Israeli TV show, and produced a documentary about the history of Israel’s commanders in chief.
Another advantage of the US has been its cultural openness. In January, Eisenman married her longtime partner Nathalie, something she was never able to do in Israel.
“I hope Israel will move forward in that department soon,” she said.
While she has no plans of moving back to Israel, Eisenman definitely misses home. When she wakes up in New York, it is midday in Israel, and she sees all the messages from her loved ones there.
“I’m on the line, if you know what I mean, I’m kind of on this imaginary bridge between New York and Tel Aviv,” she said.
Eisenman will be performing August 26 at the Barby Club in Tel Aviv.