Grapevine April 21, 2021: A new singing star on the horizon

Publication Date20 Apr 2021
This time the format was somewhat different from that of past years, beginning with a prerecorded broadcast that included video clips of different aspects of the president's activities both inside and outside the President's Residence, plus, in the course of recording, meetings with various groups and individuals.

Among them was singer and prolific songwriter Avihu Medina, who was born in the same year as the state, but won't be celebrating his 73rd birthday till August 19. Medina is of Yemenite background on both sides of his family, and a second-generation Israeli on his mother's side, but has Ashkenazim among his relatives. Rivlin, for his part, has grandchildren who are an Ashkenazi-North African mix, as well as some who are pure Ashkenazim. The two men discussed the beauty of blended backgrounds contributing to national unity.

Medina was asked to sing, and invited Rivlin to join him. Rivlin is a great lover of Hebrew songs of all genres, and happily accepted the invitation, singing duet most of the time, but also solo with exuberant body language, which provoked the enthusiastic exclamation from Abuhav.

Although singers of North African background were popular even before the establishment of the state, their music was not. Shoshana Damari, one of the greatest of them all, though possessed of a pure Yemenite voice, performed with Polish-born and trained composer and pianist Moshe Wilensky, whose compositions were often reminiscent of Polish cabaret. It took a long time for European- and American-style music to give way to the music of the region, and Medina, who also composed many songs for Zohar Argov, can be largely credited for the success of Mizrahi music in Israel.

On Independence Day, whether in tribute to him or simply because North African singers have made their mark not only in Israel but worldwide, several radio programs focused on singers of North African background as well as on Mizrahi music. Both Medina and Argov were naturally included, as was Damari, but so were Boaz Sharabi, Yossi Banai, Shaike Levi, Joe Amar, Ofra Haza and many others.

■ AT THE annual reception that he hosts on Independence Day for ambassadors, military attachés, honorary consuls, religious leaders of non-Jewish faiths and heads of communities and international organizations, Rivlin said that he was especially pleased to welcome all the ambassadors of the Muslim faith, singled out United Arab Emirates Ambassador Mohamed Al Khaja, and wished all the ambassadors of the Muslim faith as well as Israel's Muslim community and Muslims worldwide, Ramadan kareem. Also present among the Muslim diplomats was the head of Morocco's Liaison Office in Israel, Abderrahim Bayoud.

■ IN A departure from tradition, neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor Defense Minister Benny Gantz attended the morning ceremony in which 120 outstanding soldiers received medals and scholarships, nor did Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi attend the reception for diplomats, since he was in Cyprus. He sent regards but no message. In previous years, this reception was cohosted by the president and the foreign minister.

■ ON MAY 3, Polish Ambassador Marek Magierowski will host a reception to celebrate Poland's Constitution Day. Poland was among the first countries in the world to adopt a constitution, on May 3, 1791. It came into force two years after the American Constitution of 1789. The Polish Constitution defined the balance of power between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government, determined a two-chamber parliament and provided for political equality between different strata of society.

Israeli legislators have for years been debating the need for a constitution, and now that the winds of change seem to be blowing in the Knesset and the government, perhaps the time has come for Israel to finally adopt a constitution.

This would probably be encouraged by Prof. Shimon Shetreet, an internationally recognized professor of...

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