Jewish Rock Group Heedoosh Makes Aliyah

Debut concert in Israel on Monday. Songs are influenced by Rabbi Kook, Piamenta and Radiohead. They performed live at Arutz Sheva last week.

Ben Bresky,

Yaniv Tsaidi and Rafi Gassel
Yaniv Tsaidi and Rafi Gassel
Ben Bresky

The core members of Jewish rock band Heedoosh have moved to Israel and will perform their first concert Monday June 23 in Jerusalem. The young band released their first album Meumkah Delibah in 1997 to rave reviews. The band combines Hebrew lyrics based on the writing of Rabbi Abraham Yitzhak Kook with alternative rock. The band stopped by the Israel National Radio studios to perform live and discuss their move.

Yaniv and Yahav Tsaidi are the singers and songwriters of the band. The sons of Yemenite-Moroccan Jewish parents grew up in Detroit. Yaniv previously recorded two Hasidic pop albums. He currently cites his musical influences as Alice in Chain, Oasis, Radiohead and other 90's alternative rock groups.

Can't see player? Click here: part 1, part 2.

Guitarist Shaya Rubenstein moved to Israel several years ago and claims as his influences Yossi Piamenta and early 20th-century jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt. Bassist Rafi Gassel previously played with Yaniv in America with another Jewish rock group called Rashan. He came to Israel are part of an internship program doing research in a science lab. He decided to stay when they offered him a job. Drummer Ari Leichtberg and lead guitarist Dror Shimoni also recently moved to Israel.

The band’s debut concert in Israel will be this Monday. They will perform with Israeli rock group Squid. “We’re Americans singing songs in Hebrew and they are Israelis singing songs in English,” says Yaniv. Rubenstein adds, “There is a stigma to a band of one nationality trying to cross over and make a voice for themselves in other places, but people are just trying to express themselves the best way they can. “It’s whatever feels natural and makes them feel like they are doing the best they can. For us it is mostly in Hebrew.” Gassel agrees: “Israel is the gathering place for all the Jews in the world. If a Jew is doing it somewhere, somehow it's still Jewish music.”

The band developed a serious following in America. For the past three years they have been performing at BB King's in New York City on December 25th. The event attracts both religious and non-religious members of the Jewish community as well as a growing amount of Asians, who also seek something to do on a night when most of the country is at home with their families. The band plans to perform again there this year.

Yahav was a student at the Merkaz HaRav yeshiva in Jerusalem, as was his father. The yeshiva follows the teachings of Rabbi Abraham Yitzhak Kook and Tsaid bases much of the band’s lyrics upon Rabbi Kook’s writings.

One of the most rocking tunes on their album is called The Purim Song. Tsaidi originally wrote it in English about his rabbi in yeshiva, Rabbi Yehoshua Zuckerman. But being that it was Purim time, he changed the lyrics and it just seemed to fit.

On the subject of the recent shooting at the yeshiva, Yahav comments: “It’s a tragedy and a travesty. It hurt so much to watch it on the news. It hit home. I just pray that Am Yisrael is strong and to start becoming more decisive about where we stand politically as Am Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael and start taking more action.

One of Heedoosh’s most catchy tunes is Aliyat HaNerot, which roughly translated mean the elevation of the candles. Yahav explains: “It is symbolic of the individual souls of the nation of Israel. We also have a collective soul and the goal is to elevate the different nuances that each one represents.”

Heedoosh performs Monday June 23rd at C'naan on 15 Shamai Street near Ben Yehuda in downtown Jerusalem. Tickets are 20 shekels. For more information visit