Judaism: Prize-Winning Singer Ariel Silber: Alone on the Wagon
Moshe KempinskiMoshe Kempinski, author of "The Teacher and the Preacher", is the editor of the Jerusalem Insights weekly email journal and co-owner of Shorashim, a Biblical shop and learning center in the Old City of Jerusalem.
On Monday evening he received a justly-deserved prize from ACUM (Union of Composers, Writers and Publishers in Israeli Music) for his achievements and contribution to Israeli music. He was supposed to have received a lifetime achievement award, but at the last moment the organization chose to change the wording of the award from “Lifetime Achievement” to “Contribution to Israeli Music”.
This came after pressure from various sources, such as the late Yitzchak Rabin's daughter Dalia Rabin, who is a member of ACUM’s board of directors, and who opposes Zilber’s rightist “land of Israel” political stand.
As I read of his pain-filled acceptance speech I was reminded of another image of Ariel Zilber. It was the summer of 2005. The Sharon government was feverishly preparing for the destruction of Gush Katif (Katif Bloc) and the expulsion of the Jewish families. As part of the many activities organized to attempt to thwart those plans, many of us gathered to camp out in the forest groves near the southern town of Ofakim. Thousands spent the night there and began, in the morning, one of the futile and painful marches towards the Gush. This march, as with all the others, was blocked by a massive police force.
As we moved closer people pointed and whispered to each other “ that’s Ariel Zilber..you know from the song ‘Rutzi Shmulik’, He is here to stand with us”. We walked by and he kept singing. I thought then how alone he looked there on the wagon. None of the other “icons” of Israeli entertainment were anywhere to be seen. Yet alone there on the wagon, he seemed to me to be a giant.
That was exactly the type of uplift we needed at that moment. The procession moved on and then the car began to pull the wagon forward and continued on with us. He kept singing, though at times it looked like he and the wagon would tip over. Yet he kept singing. He kept singing alone.