Taking Jewish Music beyond Klezmer

Dec. 19 2014

For most people, “Jewish music” implies klezmer, East European folk tunes, or liturgical compositions. But for over a century, Jewish composers have created art music based on a variety of Jewish themes. At a recent concert, reviewed by Barrymore Laurence Scherer, the Ariel Quartet performed some of the best examples from Israel in particular:

The program showcased three generations of Israeli composers, and featured works by Paul Ben-Haim (1897-1984), Mark Kopytman (1929-2011), and Menachem Wiesenberg (b. 1950). Ben-Haim immigrated to Israel from Germany; Kopytman, from Soviet Ukraine. Mr. Wiesenberg is a sabra (an Israeli native). None of their rigorously modernist music displays the overt Yiddish sound of, say, the klezmer tune that enlivens the third movement of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, or even the deliberate Hebraic flavor of Bloch’s tone poem for cello and orchestra, Schelomo. But when you listen carefully, the music’s roots make themselves apparent.

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Read more at Wall Street Journal

More about: Classical music, Israeli music, Jewish music, Paul ben Haim

Will Costco Go to Israel?

Social-media users have mocked this week new Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich for a poorly translated letter. But far more interesting than the finance minister’s use of Google Translate (or some such technology) is what the letter reveals about the Jewish state. In it, Smotrich asks none other than Costco to consider opening stores in Israel.

Why?

Israel, reports Sharon Wrobel, has one of the highest costs of living of any country in the 38-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This

has been generally attributed to a lack of competition among local importers and manufacturers. The top three local supermarket chains account for over half of the food retail market, limiting competition and putting upward pressure on prices. Meanwhile, import tariffs, value-added tax costs and kosher restrictions have been keeping out international retail chains.

Is the move likely to happen?

“We do see a recent trend of international retailers entering the Israeli market as some barriers to food imports from abroad have been eased,” Chen Herzog, chief economist at BDO Israel accounting firm, told The Times of Israel. “The purchasing power and technology used by big global retailers for logistics and in the area of online sales where Israel has been lagging behind could lead to a potential shift in the market and more competitive prices.”

Still, the same economist noted that in Israel “the cost of real estate and other costs such as the VAT on fruit and vegetables means that big retailers such as Costco may not be able to offer the same competitive prices than in other places.”

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Costco, Israel & Zionism