Yehoram Gaon
Yehoram GaonIsrael news photo

Israeli superstar Yehoram Gaon celebrates a half-century in entertainment this year with a new television program. Born December 28, 1939 to a Sephardic family in Jerusalem, the internationally-renown performer is best known outside the country for his velvety voice and at least 20 albums in a variety of languages.

Gaon, who began his rich career with the Nahal troupe, was once a member of ‘The Yarkon Trio’ and is an Israel Prize laureate in Hebrew Song, has also had a rich career in Israeli film and television. The entertainer has also dabbled in Israeli politics as well, and he was elected to the Jerusalem City Council in 1993, serving primarily in the area of cultural and municipal arts.

In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Gaon observes that the current order to freeze Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria is not really feasible. “You cannot freeze settlements – it is impossible to freeze life,” he points out. “If a child is age three, you can’t tell him to stop growing because you want to ‘freeze’ him a few months. It was the state that also sent the settlers to live there [in those communities,],” he says. But he also notes that “on a practical level, I do not approve of angering the entire world. We’re not living alone [on this planet], and we depend on other countries as well.”

His proposal for peace, surprisingly, is to try something not tried before – do nothing. “I recommend something no one has ever done – and I know that unfortunately no one will ever do it. I suggest we take a break,” he says. “For 50 years, no negotiations, and we won’t conduct discussions with committees.

“During that timeout, we build ourselves. Look at how we are battered between ourselves, within our own society. If the Arabs try to attack us – fine. We already know how to protect ourselves, and we will manage.”

After the “break,” says Gaon, “we’ll see how the Arabs will treat us differently. Today, everything is about “now.” Everyone is saying ‘Peace NOW.’ It’s a problematic statement. You want everything now, without waiting. You have to understand that at the moment, there is no one to talk to.

“Sometimes I ask myself whether the hareidi-religious Jews aren’t right, when they argue that it was a mistake to go up to the [Temple Mount]. Maybe just as there are opinions that the Temple will come down from heaven, so too will peace also descend upon us from the sky,” he says hopefully.

New TV Show: Abba’s Gaon (Daddy’s Genius)

At present television is also undergoing educational reform, with a new program featuring Gaon at the top of the list – Abba’s Gaon. The title is a play on words, with the literal translation in Hebrew meaning “Daddy’s genius”; gaon means “genius” in Hebrew, and Abba means Daddy.

On the program Gaon interviews children within the context of an educational but funny skit. Songs on the program are wrriten by Shlomit Cohen-Asif. The program is intended for the entire family, but aimed at children ages 7 to 11. It is broadcast on Sunday through Thursday at 2:00 p.m. on Channel 2 television, and at 3:00 p.m. on Channel 1, as well as on Educational Television Channel 23.

Gaon says he hopes there will be a second season despite concerns over cutbacks and other issues that might affect that decision. “They should not close the educational channel, and 'Abba’s Gaon' is absolutely relevant to that area,” he says, noting that the program specifically chose to stick with educational content. “There is so much concern about shallow commercialization in everything these days, but educational television at least shouldn’t have to be at the mercy of the “ratings wars.” 

Wisdom of the Children

The performer says he also discovered while taping the program that interviewing children is quite different from working with adults. “With adults, the interviewer shows how smart he is, how much he is ‘into’ his subject. But other rules apply here,” he notes. “Children need to find the right level… they feel like you’re patronizing them, or you’re speaking to them as a teacher.”

Gaon adds that when interviewing a child, it is best to “give them a sense that when you ask them a question, you are really asking because you do not know the answer. Once I was able to do that – the conversation flowed and the children opened up,” he says.

The program deals with some subjects that are off the beaten track for the average children’s program, he observes. Loss and similar realities, friends, love, “these are subjects one discusses with adults but not generally on other children’s programs,” Gaon points out. “The same is true of war, or memory. These are things that grownups also cope with, and I am not convinced that grownups say anything as wise as the things the children say in their innocence.”