It's Hollywood - in an Ashkenazic-Jewish style.
The first time I saw this clip, I was sure it was put out by the Diaspora Ministry, or the Public Diplomacy Ministry. Only afterwards did I find out the video was created by Cantor Elhanan Schwartz and his wife Anat, in honor of their triplet sons' bar mitzva.
The clip includes professional photographs, including several aerial photos of the Prophet Samuel's grave, the Hurva synagogue in Jerusalem's Old City, the Mount of Olives, the Herodium in Gush Etzion, Hevron, and Samaria towns. In the background, the family can be heard singing "Haftora Jethro" along with singer Shlomo Gronich, who orchestrated the clip.
"We invested a lot in this," Elhanan Schwartz said. "But there are three bar mitzva parties here. We decided not to make an event in the middle of the week - we don't see a point in it, it's just paying for people to come and eat. So this was our way of inviting our entire family, the entire nation of Israel, and the entire world, to celebrate with us. By watching this clip, they can arrive whenever they want, leave whenever they want, and they don't have to bring a check."
"It started when five years ago, we bought Shlomo Gronich's album entitled 'Masa El Hamekorot.' One of the songs on the disk is 'Haftora Jethro.' Gronich begins singing as he reads the haftora (bar mitzva boys traditionally read the haftora, a portion from the Prophets which follows the Sabbath Torah reading, ed.), and then musical vocal effects join in. We really loved the album, and especially this song. So my wife suggested we record something like that for our triplets' bar mitzva."
"When the time came, we saw that the Torah portion for the boys' bar mitzva was the portion of Jethro," Schwartz continued. "It seemed like a sign from Heaven that we should record a clip. We didn't want to do it exactly like Gronich did, or to take the Torah portion exactly as it is. So I wrote a song which integrates the Torah portion with the appropriate portion from the Prophets - and we put everything together.
"After I wrote the words, I called Gronich's secretary, who put me in touch with him. I told Gronich about the song I'd written, and he got very excited and wanted to work with us. So we got started.
"We've traveled abroad as a family several times over the past few years, due to my work as cantor, and the boys were always excited and loved participating. They know the prayers and the tunes, and they have a musical background. I took them to voice classes, and they were very cooperative. For them, the videos and recordings were great fun. We toured many places during the photo shoots, and every place is full of little stories, which merged together during the production."
Regarding the religious issue of men hearing women sing, Schwartz said, "My wife sang with us, and we were criticized for it. But we tried to do what we think is right, and what as right for us. When my wife sang, I sang with her, so it wasn't just her voice. And it's a tape, it's not live." There are rabbinic authorities who allow recordings of women singing, but not live performances, and some allow it if women are not singing solo.
"We actually saved a lot of money, since we came prepared," he continued. "I knew exactly what I wanted things to look like and sound, and I knew exactly what kind of photos I wanted. That saved a lot of money. We paid a few dozen thousand shekels. But it looks like a million dollars."
"My sons are named Mordechai, Kohelet, and Shamgar. Mordechai was my grandfather, and my son is named after him. Kohelet - my wife Anat wanted to name after her father, whose name was Shlomo. We decided that Kohelet is also a nice name, it's interesting, and it's full of meaning, just like Shlomo. (Shlomo is Solomon in English, who is credited by the Sages with writing the Book of Kohelet - Ecclesiastes, ed.) Shamgar - my wife's name is Anat, and one of the Judges was Shamgar, the son of Anat. And before their circumcision, it was obvious to us which boy would receive which name."
"We weren't intending to make a 'single,' or to make a playlist. Even Shlomo Gronich thought eight minutes is too long for a single song. But again - that wasn't our point. We wanted a meaningful souvenir from the bar mitzva. And when we explained it to him - even Shlomo Gronich agreed with us."