Thursday, May 21, 2009

Adam Lambert sings a song for peace

Okay, I'll admit I'm not a fan of American Idol. I think I watched it once, a few years ago, just to see what all the fuss was about. So I haven't been following the competition very closely - except that if you're at all interested in pop culture, you can't help but hear something about the show.

Still, it entirely escaped me that Idol runner-up Adam Lambert is Jewish! Why wasn't I informed?! I definitely would have paid more attention. (I'm joking, I'm joking. Kind of.)

And now, I've found a video of Lambert singing "Shir L'Shalom" ("Song for Peace") in Hebrew (and some English).

"Shir L'Shalom" is one of my favorite Israeli songs and one that has a great deal of meaning for me. Written in 1969, it's always been an anthem of the Israeli peace movement. But it took on an even more iconic status in 1995, after the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Rabin was singing the song, along with a massive crowd, at a peace rally in Tel Aviv's main square on Nov. 4, 1995, moments before he was killed. His death came about three months after I visited Israel for the first time - and fell in love with the country. Since then, "Shir L'Shalom" has become a staple at memorial services honoring him.

Lambert's version is interesting - a lot slower than some others I've heard, but still very stirring. Here's an English translation if you want to follow along.


Chris Caggiano said...

Esther: I'm with you on American Idol. I watched it once because a bunch of friends were getting together to watch Kat McPhee (who went to the Boston Conservatory, where I teach) was one of the final two. I haven't been moved to watch since.

As for "Shir L'Shalom," I sang it with the Boston Gay Men's Chorus a few years back. One of our members was in the crowd the night that Rabin was shot. He introduced the song by talking about the rally and its terrible aftermath. Apparently, after the assassination, the coroner found a bloodied piece of paper in Rabin's pocket with the words to the song. It was an incredibly moving experience to sing the song with that cultural context.

Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday.


Esther said...

Hey Chris,

Wow, I think that's really terrific that you and the BGMC sang "Shir L'Shalom." Wish I could have heard it. Thanks for sharing the story. Nice to know it has special significance for you, too.

And of course I'm looking forward to seeing you, too!

Vance said...

Oh, the Kat McPhee year was the WORST YEAR though. Blech. It all depends on the contestants. Year 1 was great. So was 6 and 7. 3 was okay (that was JHud year though she got booted out early).