The Aharit Hayamim festival, which takes place annually on a Gush Etzion hilltop, is set to begin July 1 with some surprise guests from Israel and abroad.
Y-Love and DJ Handler from the United Stated will be dropping by as the headlining act. Y-Love, whoser real name is Yitz Jordan, is a convert to Judaism. He and DJ Handler have released an album of Jewish-themed rap and hip-hop.
This year Y-Love has released an all a capella hip-hop album for the Sefirat HaOmer period with Israeli-American beat boxer Yuri Lane. The beats on the album are all vocals Lane does with his mouth. Because the album has no instruments, it is permissible to enjoy it during the Sefirat HaOmer period between Passover and Shavuot, when some have the custom of not listening to music. The lyrics of the album are Passover-themed.
Also at the Aharit Hayamim festival will be Roi Levi and Gilad Shimon, two members of popular rock/world music band Shotei HaNevua who, although not religious or residents of Judea and Samaria, fit with Aharit Hayamim's musical cocktail of reggae, Carlebach and middle eastern influences.
Also at the festival will be veteran participants and friends: Aaron Razel, who has just released a new album, and Sinai Tor, whose long, flowing peyot (sidelocks), white shepherd’s clothing and acoustic style promises to inspire, as usual.
Eight years ago, the Aharit Hayamim festival began as a tribute to Emil Leuchter, an American-born musician who moved to Israel and played with Shlomo Carlebach and many associated bands. When he passed away from cancer, his family held a jam session in his memory. Today the jam session is a full blown festival lasting well past midnight with stands selling brightly colored homemade clothing, chai tea, organic goodies, Judaica carved from local olive wood and more.
The festival shares its name with the band started by Leuchter's son Yehuda, which has a following throughout the country gained from years as a wedding band - one of the only to perform mostly original compositions.
There will be a tent set up for yeshiva learning and, for those who feel more comfortable with it, separate seating and dancing for men and woman. The festival is located at the old Masuot Yitzhak kibbutz, where the Leuchter grandparents lived before it was destroyed in 1948 by the Jordanians. The grandparents were taken captive and, even after gaining their freedom, could not return home during the 19 years of Jordanian occupation until Israel won back Gush Etzion in the 1967 Six Day War. Though Massuot Yitzchak remains a park and nature reserve, the family now lives nearby in the Gush Etzion town of Elazar.
According to Acharit HaYamim's web site, "The festival is a unique spiritual gathering of musicians and artists from all Israeli sectors and Diaspora, and gives a stage for young artists." It also is a meeting point between the hilltop communities of Judea and Samaria and the post-India Israelis, whose paths seldom cross politically, but enjoy much of the same music and culture.
Rabbi Michi Yosefi, who founded the concept of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish House) in India, will be giving classes and workshops at the festival as well. Yosefi’s model was replicated throughout India, providing a place for Israeli hikers to spend the Sabbath, find kosher food, mingle with other Israelis and learn about Judaism and Jewish prayer outside of the traditional institutions they may not have felt comfortable setting foot in back home.
For more information visit www.aharit.net
Benyamin Bresky is host of The Beat on Israel National Radio and a frequent contributor of articles on the latest in Jewish music. He maintains a blog at israelbeat.blogspot.com
Click here for a past article about Acharit HaYamim and the annual festival.