web analytics
September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Fly Away Little Bird: an Appreciation of Arik Einstein

I have frequently drawn up lists of what I love most about Israel, and Arik Einstein has ranked high.

Arik Einstein was bigger than life.

Arik Einstein was bigger than life.
Photo Credit: Alona Einstein

Israel is a much poorer country for having lost Arik Einstein, who died last week at age 74.

I have frequently drawn up lists, especially around Independence Day, of what I love most about Israel and invariably Arik Einstein has ranked high.

Einstein was in many ways the epitome of the modern Israeli, the sabra. He is often described as a folk singer, but that term is misleading. His music contained much of what is positive and beautiful in the contemporary Israeli soul. He was among the best that Israeli culture has produced.

I believe that Israel’s greatest artistic achievements are in its music, especially its popular music. There are many different styles and flavors and countless superb singers and performers. And in the midst of all this, Einstein always stood out. He was the secular sabra from the bohemian circles of Tel Aviv who refused to pursue the political fads of so many of the other members of the chattering artsy classes. His was a deeply felt if humble pride in his Israeliness.

He never preached. If he had political opinions, he kept them to himself. He never had the saccharine melodrama of singers like Yehoram Gaon.

It is said that Will Rogers never met a man he did not like. I do not think there is a single Israeli who did not like Arik Einstein. His appeal crossed all barriers and lines and classes and subdivisions.

There are styles of Israeli music that appeal to only subsets of the population – Oriental music, religious music, etc. But Einstein was beloved by everyone from all walks of life.

His secularism never alienated the religious. (He was best friends with Uri Zohar, the Israeli megastar of the 1960s and 70s who famously became religious; in fact, two of Einstein’s children are married to two of Zohar’s children and live as haredim.)

His quiet love of country never offended the politically correct. His patriotism was not a political proclamation; rather, it was expressed in songs of affection for and attachment to country, to land, to places, to Ein Gedi, to history.

He loved “Land of Israel” songs, ballads reflecting love of country from yesteryear. He could sing Palmach songs from the 1940s without sounding corny, stale, or archaic. He could sing old songs of the pioneers and then transition into modern love ballads.

One of his most famous songs was about the beauty of San Francisco, a song also filled with deep longing for home in Israel and anticipation of returning to mundane life in Tel Aviv. The Ashkenazi northern Tel Aviv bohemians saw him as one of their own, and even they raised no objection to his patriotism as he sang, “This land, this land is ours.”

His was the life of the Ashkenazi sabra salt of the earth. Born in Tel Aviv, he made his musical debut like so many of the generation of the 1960s in Israeli army musical troupes. He worked in theater after completing his military service.

His humor was legendary and characterizes many of his clips, movies, and performances. He played the young kibbutznik in the classic Israeli movie “Salah Shabbati” (one of the few Israeli films worth watching). His music was a bit of Paul Simon, a bit of Woody Guthrie, a bit of folk rock, and so many other genres.

His musical career lasted for decades. Several years ago he stopped performing in public. Rumors circulated that he was suffering from depression. But though the live performances came to an end, his music continued to dominate the airwaves. In 2010 a survey found that his were the most widely played and heard songs on Israeli radio. He spoke to the ordinary Israeli. His songs were about driving old cars, eating watermelon, strolling in Tel Aviv, doing reserve service in the army.

One of my very favorite songs of Einstein’s was “Fly Away Little Bird.” It is a lovely description of the fears and hopes of parenthood as a child strikes off in independence. It is a song to which few parents can listen with dry eyes. It is a highly typical Einstein song.

A highly atypical song, but another of my favorites, is Einstein’s parody of Greek music. Einstein had a delicious sense of humor. (YouTube features a number of Arik Einstein clips. Just go to YouTube.com and type his name in the search box.)

Arik was buried in Tel Aviv’s Trumpeldor Cemetery. For 48 hours Einstein’s death and funeral dominated the news and the talk on the street, and every radio station played Arik Einstein songs nonstop.

About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “Fly Away Little Bird: an Appreciation of Arik Einstein”

  1. Ruth Pechin says:

    I lived in Israel 1979-1989 his music was inspiring helped me understand what Israel and it's people especially army was all about

  2. Irene Stern says:

    The best eulogy written for Arik Einstein, and there were many. Beautiful and sensitive appreciation of an Israeli treasure by Prof. Plaut.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
In Lebanon, smoke rises from a Sunni Muslim dominated neighborhood in Tripoli on August 21, 2014.
Iran, US Equip & Finance Lebanese Army to Fight ISIS
Latest Indepth Stories
terrorists

Is the global community clear in its response to these extremist groups?

obama

Like our fabled character, Don Quixote, President Obama has constantly spawned his own reality.

Ayatollah Hossein-Kazamani Boroujerdi, in better times (left) and in his prison cell (right).

Boroujerdi was informed that “the pressures and tortures will increase until he has been destroyed.”

Senior Hamas and Fatah leaders in Gaza City on April 22. Hamas and Fatah signed a deal to establish a unity government, but since then little progress has been made.

Fatah: Hamas stole relief aid for Gaza and distributed it amongst its followers in mosques.

Can teenagers seriously be expected to behave properly when they are surrounded by so much suggestive material? Is it fair to expose them (and ourselves) to so much temptation and then tell them, “Just say no”?

Washington remains ignorant of the need to dismantle alliances with various Muslim countries.

Defeating IS requires bombing its strongholds and recognizing the violent nature of Islam.

Abbas again used the UN to attack Israel, distort history, and undermine prospects for peace.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority cannot even agree to move their clocks back on the same day.

Shemita is about relating to each other by temporarily eliminating gaps of wealth power & status

David transcended adversity to become a leader; Who are we to make excuses for a lack of greatness?

sympathy: Feeling sorrow or pity for another’s tribulations; Empathy:sharing an emotional experience

Last week the president announced a four-point plan. Unfortunately, there’s little buy-in from our European and Middle Eastern allies. Here’s my own four-point plan that may be more palatable to our allies.

Rosh Hashanah has an obvious connection to God’s Kingship. We constantly refer to Him during the Asseres Yemei Teshuvah as Melech/King. The nusach of the tefillah, referring to Rosh Hashanah as “a remembrance of the first day” (of Creation), implies a certain dimension of divine kingship operating at the time of Creation and replicated every […]

Yes, God judges, but His judgment is that of a loving father who longs for his child’s quick return.

Anti-Semitism has returned to the mainstream of European society and Israel has become its focus.

More Articles from Steven Plaut
brant

“Jewish Voices for Peace,” a Hamas lobby created by Jewish anti-Semites.

The same by any name

The real enemy of Israel is not Arab fascism but Jewish leftism.

Neo-Nazis claim that Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is in fact a Mossad agent named Elliot Shimon

One grey night it happened, Bibi caved no more
& Poof that Foggy Bottomer, he vanished from our sight

It’s six K, five K, four K, Graft !
(Daylight come and da jail’s his new home)

In 2012, an initiative was begun in the Knesset led by David Rotem (from the Yisrael Beitenu party), to cut the stipends and pensions paid to convicted murderers and terrorists by 50 percent.

When the Temple was in existence, Jews were religiously obligated to eat roast meat at least once a year.

I have frequently drawn up lists of what I love most about Israel, and Arik Einstein has ranked high.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/fly-away-little-bird-an-appreciation-of-arik-einstein/2013/12/05/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: