Friday, July 3, 2009

Y'hiyeh Tov

On Wednesday night, Janet and I went to see one of Israel's most respected musicians, David Broza. He is an extraordinary acoustic guitar player and singer, whose fingers move like lightning across the frets.

I first heard David Broza back in the early 1980s, and he has only gotten better. He is quite an international figure. His guitar playing is heavily influenced by Spanish flamenco style, and he plays concerts all over the world. Early in the show, he launched into one of his favorites, "Al Nahar shel Sevilla--By the River of Seville," and I thought of how, almost four months ago, I stood by the river in Seville myself. It was wonderful to listen to this musical synthesis of my own sabbatical experience, and to think back, once again, on the Golden Age of Jews in Spain--and how so many of the descendents of those Spanish exiles have made their homes here.

The concert took place in Mishkenot Sh'ananim, which is a remarkable venue. It is a venerable Jerusalem neighborhood , the first to be built outside the old city walls. In the 19th century, the British Jewish philanthropist Moses Montefiore founded the neighborhood. Many locals thought he was crazy, for at the time it was considered terribly dangerous to live outside the walls, which were locked each night to protect the residents against rogues and wild beasts. It is now hard to believe that Jerusalem was once so small, given its current size and growthrate, which has exceeded even Montefiore's wildest dreams. At any rate, it has now become a kind of artists' colony, filled with successful painters and writers, who live in graceful stone buildings topped with red terra cotta roofs, surrounded by magnificent tropical foliage of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Montefiore also built a windmill here, which remains the signature landmark of the place. The concert was held right by the windmill, looking out over the city walls, bathed in golden illumination against the dark night. Looking out over the city from this vantage point, with David Broza playing such gorgeous music and the crowd singing along so happily, it is really hard to believe that Jerusalem is such an intense and divided place. It all looks so calm from a distance. The division and tension is, of course, a reality, but it is not the only Jerusalem--just the one that makes the news. I wish the world could see more of the beauty, along with the conflict.

After about two hours, David Broza finished with his signature song, "Y'hiyeh Tov." Written in the wake of the Lebanon War and the Camp David agreement, it expresses the Israeli longing for peace. In the chorus, Broza sings, Y'hiyeh tov--everything will be all right--yes, it will--though sometimes I feel broken. So tonight, just tonight, won't you stay with me?

Everyone in attendance knew the words, and not a few tears were shed.

Shabbat shalom to all.

1 comment:

GabrielW said...

I'm a huge fan of David Broza, lived in Israel for nine months and never got to see him... now I'm back in Arg and I wish he'd come over..