(JNS.org) Brett Loewenstern, who competed on the talent-seeking reality show “American Idol” in 2011, this week made aliyah and plans to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) after falling in love with Israel on a Taglit-Birthright trip in 2012.
After moving to Israel, Loewenstern said he will join an IDF military band following his enlistment in the Israeli army.
Reporters and television crews waited for Loewenstern when he arrived on a Nefesh B’Nefesh aliyah agency charter flight in Israel on Wednesday, and the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth covered his story with the headline, “He’s a star.”
“I came off the plane holding a giant teddy bear in my hand, which I use as a pillow,” Loewenstern told the Times of Israel.
“All of a sudden a TV crew runs up asking to interview me, and my phone rings from a reporter with the IDF magazine,” he said, calling the experience “humbling.”
Israel’s Guy Pines entertainment TV show referred to him as “the ginger Jew from ‘Idol,’” a characterization Loewenstern particularly likes.
After appearing on “American Idol,” where he made it to the top 24 and was eliminated after singing “Light My Fire,” Loewenstern enrolled in Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where he majored in performance and song-writing. He has performed Israel’s national anthem, “HaTikvah,” and other Israeli songs at many Jewish community events, and has partnered with Israeli composer Matti Kovler on various projects.
His Birthright trip was a turning point since it was “the first time I felt true inner peace,” and “after Birthright, I could not stop coming back [to Israel],” said Loewenstern.
“Israel to me represents all that my ancestors fought to keep. This is something for all of us, and I am proud to be here doing something I think my ancestors would have been proud of....As Jews, we come from different countries and backgrounds and cultures. I made aliyah to feel connected to other Jews from around the world, and to build more bridges between Israel and Diaspora Jews, who are so separated now,” he added.