Complete with a Jewfro and black-rimmed hipster glasses, Israeli rocker Yermi Kaplan leapt off the stage and into a sea of 30-somethings who fist-pumped and sang along in Hebrew to edgy love ballads.
This was how one of Israel’s most popular musicians got the party started on Nov. 12 for the opening night of Israeli Tuesdays, a presentation of Israeli art and culture initiated by the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles. More than 400 Israeli and Jewish Angelenos came out for the event that will now take place monthly at The Mark for Events on West Pico Boulevard.
Organizers said Kaplan’s high-energy performance represented a push to attract a youthful crowd. Co-creator Ofer Mazar, consul for administrative affairs, told the Journal it has always been a challenge to get young people to attend Israeli-themed events “because the second generation, the third generation of Israelis here are getting far from Israeli culture.”
Israeli Tuesdays is the creation of Mazar and his friend, Shavua Israeli journalist Micha Keynan, who wanted an evening once a month to present Israel’s beautiful, cultural, creative side without bringing up politics.
Mazan said he had seen similar nights around Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, but they soon fizzle out. The Israeli American Council (IAC), Mitchabrim, The Israeli House, MATI, Shavua Israeli and The Mark all donated resources and other support for Israeli Tuesdays, which the creators think will sustain it for the long run. Admission was $10 per person. Dikla Kadosh, IAC director of community events and volunteering, said the first event was a success, drawing a large crowd on a work night from all corners of the area.
One energetic attendee was 26-year-old Lisa Latman of North Hollywood. Latman, who runs a hair product business, said she found out about Israeli Tuesdays from a friend on Facebook. While she often seeks out Israeli events, she said they are sparse and usually centered on holidays. Now, she said she would be a regular at Israeli Tuesdays.
“I love the music, I love the crowd, the energy. …That’s what I come for,” she said.
Besides the concert, the event had the atmosphere of a gallery opening. People could enter a posh lounge to view the work of five L.A.-based Israeli artists and mingle between two bars and a catered spread of kosher Israeli snacks.
Guy Ziv, 34, the co-founder of Israeli Tuesday’s in-house Israeli cover band Ram2, said he appreciated the event’s combination of music and visual art. Each Israeli Tuesday, Ram2 will collaborate with current Israeli stars as well as play covers of beloved Israeli acts of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Ziv stressed the importance of celebrating Israeli culture in the face of all the strife happening in the Holy Land.
“[Since] there’s a lot of struggling in Israel, you can be here and enjoy these few moments,” he said.
Emceed by Boaz Hillel, the event kicked off with stand-up from Shina Ray. Also opening was Goldie, new to arrive on the L.A. music scene from Israel, dressed in a psychedelic print dress and a Moscow fur hat and belted “Me and Bobby McGee,” in Hebrew with a voice as captivating as Janis Joplin’s. Headliner Kaplan played his signature tune “Already Now,” as well as other hits.
Most of the show, including announcements, was in Hebrew. While this may have made it difficult for some English-only speakers, Kaplan said that “in poetry, in literature, in music, only when it’s created in Hebrew, in my opinion, is it the true Israeli culture.”
All that Hebrew didn’t bother Bob Sklar, a 67-year-old professional researcher who lives in Pico-Robertson and doesn’t speak Hebrew.
“The thing about Israeli culture is that the Jewish roots run deep. … I really feel like I’m home when I’m watching an Israeli movie or reading a book by an Israeli author. I can really feel it,” he said.