Jul 30, 2015

A Deeper Look: Yonatan Razel (Z'mirot)

by Yonatan Razel

As a Levite - a descendant of the tribe that played music in the Temple - I’m always in search for that long-lost music. Sometimes, if we are lucky, the mystical melodies that were hidden away thousands of years ago and shattered into small fragments “blink” at us from far, far away - evoking in us a longing for the pure music that today only reaches us as an echo.

One of these “echoes”, in my opinion, can be heard in the songs we sing during Shabbat meals. Suddenly, in the midst of these feasts, when normally we would chat or exchange small-talk, something else takes place… If we pour our heart and soul into it, we sense our voices reaching the highest heavens, and even the angels join in. No instruments, no electricity, no rock-n-roll stage to hide behind, no distraction- just pure music that comes from the soul; or rather, from our “collective” soul. It’s the closest I’ve come to creating music; closer than listening to it or even playing it.

And - like everything that is truly spiritual - you have to work for it, create it, choose it. You have to devote yourself to it. Don’t be passive; don’t lie back and listen to the music. Sing it! Invest your soul in it! Some of these melodies are ancient… many are multi-cultural… these moments belong to the next world… because you cannot record them… They are engraved on your soul...

Yonatan Razel

Israel’s Singer of the Year and composer of Song of the Decade, Yonatan Razel has bridged deep divides within society with his incredibly moving and meaningful music. Born into a family of master musicians, Razel has conducted the Israel Chamber Orchestra, the Russian Philharmonic and a symphony orchestra in New York’s Lincoln Center – yet he is best known for his original heartfelt compositions. Today, you could watch him playing a late-night gig at Tel Aviv’s Zappa club – or find him sitting behind his Gemara at a small Jerusalem kollel.

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