Saracik will be performing at Arutz-7’s Sunday February 18th concert. For ticket information visit www.arutz7concert.com.
Chaim Dovid is one of the heirs of the musical legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. His music, part of the ever-growing genre of indigenous soul tunes coming forth from Zion, is a clear departure from the orchestra-backed fare of the other performers at the upcoming event.
Saracik brought Bresky with him on a typical stroll through his neighborhood, Jerusalem’s Old City. Along the way, Chaim Dovid is stopped by IDF soldiers, tourists, neighbors and long-lost acquaintances who each have a story or a memory to share.
Click here to listen to the walking interview
“Shlomo used to say ‘Hey, brother, you saved my life,’ Chaim Dovid recalls, speaking of his rebbe in the way he insisted all his student do – without the title rabbi. “It doesn’t literally mean he was drowning in the water and I jumped in and dragged him out. It means that once in a while there is a person that is at the end of his koach (strength), he just can’t go on anymore.” Chaim Dovid’s mission is, through his music and every ounce of personal attention he can fit into the day, to revive and uplift those who are down or disheartened.
Ben Bresky asked: “Your style is very different than the other performers. The others performing at the concert are of a certain genre, and here you are with your acoustic guitar. And while we are on the subject, what, in your view, is Jewish music?”
We live our music – we always did. Our lives are music and we sing with our instruments.
“If a person is a Jew and he is trying to live a life of a Jew, so that is Jewish music, right?” Chaim Dovid said. “How does he express his Jewishness – that is always the difference between this kind of Jew and that kind of Jew. I am here as a student of Reb Shlomo Carlebach. He brought me here in 1975 to Diaspora Yeshiva. Ben Zion Solomon was there and Avraham Rosenblum was there already [both members of the Diaspora Yeshiva Band –ed.]. Our approach to music was very much an acoustic thing and playing on the spot, you know, as it came out. We all had our instruments with us. It wasn’t that we had to set up an orchestra or hire a band leader – we are our music. We live our music – we always did. Our lives are music and we sing with our instruments.
“So I really don’t jive with the orchestras. On HASC 17 [a popular CD compilation of a benefit concert for Camp HASC – lauded later on by a passer-by –ed.] I came on with my band of four and had a rocking set instead of using the 20-piece orchestra. My band knows and loves the music and we don’t just read the notes, we are the music.”
Above all, Chaim Dovid says he hopes his music “turns people on to, you know, that spark of yiddishkeit (Judaism) that really inspires us and lets us connect. That’s what music is about – connecting.”
Chaim Dovid performs many times a week, but is also a prolific composer and has put out eleven albums to date. He tours throughout North America, England and Australia (where his family lives) and has also played at the tomb of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev in Uman, Ukraine and in Kiev, at the Bar Mitzvah of a descendent of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev.
Walking through the stone alleyways of the Jewish Quarter, Chaim Dovid muses that for 2,000 years Jews have been praying for the complete rebuilding of Jerusalem, and now cranes are erected in the main square, rebuilding the Churva synagogue, whose lone arch had come to symbolize the most recent destruction wrought upon the holy city by the Jordanians, between 1948 and 1967.
As if on cue, a family, the Rosners, here for their daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, tell Chaim Dovid proudly that they will be making Aliyah (immigrating to Israel) next year. “We set a date,” they say.
“We didn’t plan this,” says Chaim Dovid to Bresky, wishing the Rosners an easy and pleasant absorption and telling them he can’t wait to attend their housewarming celebration in their new home.
You can be praying in Honolulu, Cleveland or Manchester and you are always facing Jerusalem.
“The Old City is the heart of Jerusalem, which is the heart of the Jewish people,” Chaim Dovid says of his chosen home in the often-hectic tourist-packed center of Jerusalem. “You can be praying in Honolulu, Cleveland or Manchester and you are always facing Jerusalem. This is the heart of Jewish prayer and longing. I look out my back window and see the Temple Mount. I hope that our being here is connecting us with all the people of the world and connecting in a very real mystical way. May we merit to see all the rebuilding culminate in the rebuilding of the Holy Temple atop the Temple Mount.”
Chaim Dovid will be performing live this Sunday, Feb. 18th at New York City’s Lincoln Center. For ticket information visit www.arutz7concert.com.
Click here for a previous interview with Chaim Dovid.
Benyamin Bresky is the host of The Beat, a weekly Jewish music program on Israel National Radio. He maintains a Jewish music journal at israelbeat.blogspot.com.