To celebrate the State of Israel’s 75th anniversary, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Z3 Project have partnered with the influential HaDag Nahash lead singer Shaanan Streett to create a song that brings together the diverse faces of the Jewish people in Israel and around the world.
In its Voices Together project, the Jewish Agency and Z3 invited Jews worldwide to submit short passages that expressed what Israel meant to them. Streett and eight other artists from across the globe who work in different languages, in collaboration with the Jewish Agency and Z3, then incorporated the sentiments of the submitted messages into their lyrics for an original song titled “Ma Nishma, Israel?” (“What’s Up, Israel?”) and performed the song in a music video. Artist and music producer Michael Cohen, known simply as “Cohen,” joined the production of the music video, which was made accessible in sign language thanks to the Israeli social start-up Sign Now.
Born and raised in Jerusalem, Streett is an Israeli artist, musician, scriptwriter and social activist. Aside from his work with HaDag Nahash, one of Israel’s most popular hip-hop bands, he has released two solo albums. In 2001, he founded the One Shekel Festival association, which works to make culture accessible for marginalized communities. He also co-hosts the Dream A Dream podcast.
After he was approached to lead the Voices Together project, Streett accepted due to his deep understanding and appreciation for global Jewish peoplehood, as well as for connecting Jews worldwide and in Israel through music.
The other artists featured in the new song include:
● Belarus-born Pinhas Tsinman, who immigrated to Israel about a year ago from Ukraine, where he had lived for 16 years and worked as a Chabad emissary.
● Deres Worknech (Dere Work), who made aliyah from Ethiopia when he was 11, and began to practice music by rapping in Amharic while serving in the Israel Defense Forces.
● Sandro Koren (MC Sapinho), a rap and reggaeton singer originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, now a father of four living in Ashdod, who started performing as a child at parties.
● Judith Hasin (Judith), a singer and composer born in France who participated in the Israeli reality singing show “Rising Star” in 2019, and today writes songs in both Hebrew and French.
● Noah Shufuntinsky (Westside Gravy), who was raised in San Diego and began writing songs and beats at age 7, and learned of Voices Together from his university rabbi.
● Australian-born, U.K.-raised Jonah Baron Cohen (JBC)—the nephew of famed comedian and actor Sacha Baron Cohen—who grew up in a musical home and today performs around Europe with a group of local artist friends.
● Lea Kalisch (Rebbetzin Lea), who was born in Switzerland, has performed in numerous Yiddish plays, and is best known for her debut single “Eshet Chayil of Hip Hop.”
● Hila Almog, vice president and Deaf Community manager of the Tel Aviv company Sign Now, which offers free, real-time sign-language interpretation that is accessible on smartphones.
The music video also features dancers Viktoriya Bakhova, Polina Gutkina and Sonya Zavelska.
The idea for a song that would connect Jews around the world was conceived with the Jewish Agency’s Partnership2Gether (P2G) program, which connects global and Israeli communities in city-to-city and region-to-region partnerships to forge meaningful connections. “Ma Nishma, Israel?” is being used in P2G communities as part of the celebrations of Israel’s 75th anniversary. Maj. Gen. (res.) Doron Almog, chairman of the executive at the Jewish Agency, emphasized the song’s role as a timely and much-needed vehicle for Jewish unity.
“Given music’s status as the universal language, this new song gives voice to Jewish unity and global Jewish peoplehood at a time when those values urgently need to be bolstered and amplified,” said Almog. “Shaanan Streett and his collaborators have sent an unmistakable message that, whether it be relations between Israel and the Jewish world or among the Israeli people themselves, the ties which bind us together will always overcome the transient tensions that threaten to divide us.”
Zack Bodner, CEO and president of the Oshman Family JCC and founder of the Z3 project, an initiative that reimagines Israel-world Jewry relations, said: “Voices Together celebrates the beautiful diversity of the Jewish people, bringing together artists and words from around the world to create a powerful tribute to Israel’s 75th birthday. With unity as our guide, we have harnessed the power of music to amplify the voices of Jews from all walks of life, highlighting the importance of community and connection.
“Our message is clear: We may be different, but when we come together as equal partners, our collective voice is strong and resilient,” continued Bodner. “This project is a testament to the power of diversity and the beauty of unity, and we couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it.”
The video for “Ma Nishma, Israel?” can be viewed here.