by Norman Berdichevsky (May 2013)
Zohar Argov (1955-1987) is a name that only provokes a blank stare from an overwhelming majority of American Jews. He was more than a popular singer and represented the underprivileged, under represented Mizrahi (Oriental) face of Israel. He was called the King and deserved the title as much or more than Elvis did. Zohar came from the most impoverished sector of Israeli Jewish society, the oldest child in a family of ten of Yemenite immigrant parents and became the leading figure of the Mizrahi and Mediterranean music in Israel, following the startling victory of Menahem Begin and the Herut-Likud Movement that had become the champion of many Mizrahim in the 1977 general elections. more>>>
As a Welsh-speaker the book on Hebrew sounds very interesting. When will it be out and will it be available in the UK? (and what price)?
The depiction of American Jews as ignorant of Hebrew is mostly true - but also untrue. There are many American religious Zionist who make the study of Hebrew a lifelong endeavor. My father was an American Hebraicist, and I, living among many yordim in New York, took my Hebrew education both in this country and in Israel and expanded it by speaking Hebrew wherever possible to the Israelis in my building and community. I speak Hebrew fluently - but I am American and have spent only one year studying at Hebrew University years ago. Hebrew is my heritage, and the year I spent studying totally in Hebrew, among Israelis - that Hebrew has remained with me.
Among my most precious possessions is the Hebrew-English Alcalay dictionary I inherited from my father, who read and studied Ma'ariv with dictionary until he could read the news in Hebrew fluently. My father was American born.
Not all Americans are ignorant of Hebrew.
The author seems to be ignorant of the slow-but-unstoppable disappearance of the so-called "American Jewish" demographic; of the meteoric rise of the Hebrew-Language Public Charter Schools; and of the establishment of the Israeli-American Council.
I look forward to reading your book on Ivrit.
Ofra Haza, whom you mention, is of course, another Israeli singer of Yemenite origin. She also died young. For me this is her most beautiful and moving recording: