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Old Building, New Music. Rabbi Kook House Host's Benefit

The 90-year-old Beit HaRav Kook will hold a benefit concert with Shlomo Katz, and jazz poetry.
By Ben Bresky
First Publish: 1/18/2013, 2:31 PM

Rabbi Kook concert poster
Rabbi Kook concert poster
Itzack Marmorstein

The poetry and writings of Rabbi Kook will be recited, Saturday night at 8:00 at Rabbi Kook House located on Rabbi Kook Street in Jerusalem.

Popular Israeli-based singer Shlomo Katz will headline the show, performing original music and the works of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach. HaOrot, lead by Rabbi Greg Wall and Rabbi Marmorstein will perform jazz interpretations of Rabbi Kook's poetry. Wall is known for his work with Frank London of the Klezmatics and a jazz group called Hasidic New Wave. In 2009 Wall and Rabbi Marmorstein also released a CD entitled Haorot: The Poetry Lights of Rabbi Kook on John Zorn's Tzadik record label.

Rabbi Itzhak Marmorstein spoke to Arutz Sheva's Israel Beat Jewish Music Podcast about the upcoming concert. To listen click here.

Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook was the first chief rabbi of Israel. His home, and his yeshiva, now known as Merkaz HaRav, was originally housed in the downtown building from 1923 until his passing in 1935.

"We draw from the inspiration that you can still sense there," Rabbi Marmorstein stated. He holds classes on Rabbi Kook's writings every Tuesday. "The modern revolution in many ways was born through the activities of Rav Kook. It's probably one of the most historically significant locations outside the Old City of Jerusalem. The modern unfolding of Jewish history took place there."

Many famous people of the time visited the building. Albert Einstein chatted with Rabbi Kook in the main room. On Saturday night, that same room, almost unchanged in the past 90 years will see Shlomo Katz, Greg Wall and others rocking out.

Rabbi Marmorstein relates a story about S. Y. Agnon, the Israeli Nobel Prize winning writer. "Agnon brought artist Marc Chagall to meet Rabbi Kook and Chagall stated, 'I now know what holiness looks like.'"

Another story Rabbi Marmorstein shared was an incident in which a nearby shop on Jaffa Road was open on Shabbat. He explained the unique way that Rabbi Kook dealt with both the angry complaints and the shopkeeper as well. To hear the full story, download the interview by clicking here.

Rabbi Kook was known to be open to the yeshiva community as well as secular kibbutzniks. He also helped in protesting against the arrests of Zev Jabotinsky, Avraham Stavsky and other secular Zionists of the era.

Rabbi Kook felt that the Jewish people needed to take initiative to held Israel grow into a full fledged nation. "The first thing he did was apply the halachic laws of agriculture to the new communities," Rabbi Marmorstein said. "He felt we needed to do that in order to be a vessel for the blessing of Hashem and the unfolding of Israel."

All proceeds will benefit the educational activities of the 90-year-old building. It is currently surrounded by large high-rise condominium projects which are in the process of being completed. Adjacent to Beit Harav Kook is the Anna Ticho house, and the Museum of Psalms, two other historic landmarks.

"That's its beauty and humble charm," Rabbi Marmorstein said, adding that he thought the center was underfunded. "Support can come by people actually coming and enjoying being there. I think Rav Kook would be happy to see the new buildings all around because it represents the rebirth of Israel in Jerusalem. He was happy to see it in the 1920s and 1930s. So it's wonderful to see Jerusalem growing and developing into the center that it is destined to be." 

 
The concert will be held Saturday night, January 19th, 2013 at Beit Harav Kook at #9 Rabbi Kook Street in downtown Jerusalem. Tickets must be pre-purchased. For more information call 054-819-2391 or email haorot@gmail.com

Ben Bresky is a music journalist living in Jerusalem. He hosts The Israel Beat Jewish Music Podcast interviewing a wide range of Jewish and Israeli musicians from Carlebach to klezmer, from hassidic to trance. For mp3 archives click here. For Facebook click here. For Twitter click here