In Israel today there is a new generation whose members may not be outwardly observant but who are intrinsically religious and have the utmost respect for the Torah and its scholars.
This phenomenon is especially true among Sephardim, but so many of the young generation are from “mixed” families, where one spouse is Sephardi and one is Ashkenazi. I have three daughters who eat kitnius on Passover as they have Sephardi husbands.
My sons-in-law are, thank God, observant, but they have many friends who are new breeds, choosing to observe according to their own convenience while respecting Torah and believing in the power of the blessings of tzaddikim.
I got a call about a month ago from someone who asked me if I had ever heard of one of Israel’s most popular non-observant singers.
“Yes, I’ve heard his name,” I said.
“Well,” he said, “I’m his producer and I want to work with you.”
I wasn’t sure if this guy was on the level but I said, “If this is true, I’ve been waiting for this call for a hundred years.”
I told him I had great songs but didn’t push them. “How did you get to me?” I asked.
He said he’d been in Hebron with his buddies and they were getting a tour from the well-known Baruch Marzel, and he asked Marzel why Dov Shurin hadn’t made it big.
“After all,” he told Marzel, “we saw the amazing clips on YouTube of Shurin’s famous songs ‘Zachreni Na’ and ‘V’lo Yinatshu.’ ”
Marzel told him, “People consider Shurin crazy.”
“He’s crazy?” my caller responded. “So are we. Give me his number!”
So now this fellow was on the phone with me and said, “I want to produce a hit for you.”
He told me he’s also a songwriter and had written the big hit song, “Ish Emunah Ein Lo Lifached” (“A man of faith is afraid of nothing”), recorded by the popular Eyal Golan.
I asked him if he was observant.
“Not really,” he answered. “I do love the Torah and just got a berachah from a tzaddik.”
Then he told me he was really busy at the moment with summer concerts but that he would invite me to a barbecue soon and we’d meet each other.
Last week he called to invite me to that barbecue, at his penthouse.
So there I was with about fifty other guests at a penthouse in Tel Aviv. At the head of the table sat the rav of the community; Knesset Member Dr. Michael Ben-Ari; Baruch Marzel; and a man who works full-time to get Jewish girls away from Arab spouses.
Most of the others were non-observant Jews, but with a profound respect for Judaism.
The rabbi suddenly said, “Let’s start with Maariv.” Kippot and siddurim were distributed and we prayed.
Every speaker spoke Torah. From the grill came kabobs, hamburgers, chicken and steak.
The background music was the singing of Avraham Fried, then a song by Chaim Yisrael called “Torah HaKedosha,” which was composed by my new friend, the non-observant producer. Then my own “Zachreni Na,” from my “Biblical Revenge” album, resounded across the penthouse and everyone was up and dancing.
Knesset Member Ben-Ari, seeming to know the importance of this night for me, said he wanted to pay honor to Dov Shurin by explaining who Shimshon HaGibor was. And he told the story of Samson’s birth and death, in a deep and beautiful way, explaining the salvation he brought to us from the hands of the Plishtim, topped off by the final words of Samson to Hashem – my song – “Zachreini na – remember me and strengthen me just this last time, so I can avenge the suffering of our nation at the hands of the Plishtim.”
What I want to emphasize, as we count our days to Rosh Hashanah, is that in our holy Eretz Yisrael there is a new breed of non-observant (may they soon all become observant) Jews who are charming our Maker.
They are charming Him in the most loving way, by respecting Torah and its scholars and the holiness of our land and our people, and declaring, “A man of faith has nothing to fear” as we witness our enemies slaughtering each other while we barbecue the best meats, al ha’aish, on the grill, at a penthouse in Tel Aviv.