Ehud Banai is one of the most well known performers on the Israeli music scene, steadily becoming more religious and more popular. This Tuesday he will headline the annual Aharit Hayamim festival, an event mostly known for Shlomo Carlebach-inspired folk, rock and reggae. Many of the performers and attendants are religious young people with long hair and brightly colored clothing. Banai will be performing with Rabbi Menachem Fruman of Tekoa, with whom he has performed in the past.
Ehud Banai gained fame in the late 1980s as a rocker with an introspective and downbeat touch. He started becoming more religious-oriented around the year 2000. He won awards for his 2004 album Aneh Li, which includes a song in English called Hebrewman, in which he praises the Hebrew language.
Aharit Hayamim is a religious world music and reggae band who are popular for their impromptu street performances and exciting upbeat music. Every year they hold a festival in the Gush Etzion region of Judea and Samaria near the community of Bat Ayin.
The festival is held at the old Massuot Yitzchak farming community, which was destroyed by the Jordanians during the war of 1948. The site has special significance to the band's keyboard player Yehuda Leuchter. His grandparents were among the residents who were taken captive by the Jordanians. They returned to live in Gush Etzion following its liberation in the 1967 Six Day War.
Leuchter, who also grew up in Gush Etzion, holds the festival in memory of his father Emil Leuchter, who passed away in 1994. Emil Leuchter was a bass player who used to play with Shlomo Carlebach, the Diaspora Yeshiva Band and other Jewish rockers in the 1970s. The festival began as a small jam session with friends and fellow musicians and grew from there. Last year members of the popular mainstream Israeli band Shotey HaNevuah performed, as well as American-Jewish rapper Y-Love.
This year's performers will be: A Groyse Metsie, an Israeli klezmer band, Sinai Tor, a folk-rocker from Hevron, Aaron Razel, Inkblot Hurricane, an older folk singer, Rabbi Raz Hartman of the Nachlaot neighborhood in Jerusalem, and more.
There will also be a special area for children's activities, including plays. A Beit Midrash for Torah study will also be held throughout the festival, with Gemara learning as well as rabbis giving lectures on hassidic thought and other subjects.
The festival will take place Tuesday August 12th, beginning at 2 p.m. and lasting all night. For tickets call 054-241-5707 or visit www.aharit.net
For a photo essay of last year's concert click here.