A night of firsts for Artzi in Berlin
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A night of firsts for Artzi in Berlin

The mega-popular Israeli singer, a child of Holocaust survivors, performs in Germany for the first time, in the country’s largest synagogue

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Shlomo Artzi on the bimah of the Rykestrasse Synagogue, Germany's largest synagogue, earlier this week (Courtesy Spitz Magazin Facebook page)
Shlomo Artzi on the bimah of the Rykestrasse Synagogue, Germany's largest synagogue, earlier this week (Courtesy Spitz Magazin Facebook page)

It was the first time singer Shlomo Artzi had ever performed from a bimah, the synagogue stage where the Torah is usually read, this time backed by a cluster of menorahs. This particular bimah was in Berlin’s Rykestrasse Synagogue, Germany’s largest synagogue, and the occasion was the Days of Jewish Culture Festival.

Every seat in the 1,200-seat synagogue was taken for the Sunday night performance, according to local news reports, and many of the concert-goers donned the synagogue’s stock of black satin yarmulkes, probably another first for an Artzi audience.

The Berlin performance was Artzi’s first in Germany, and he told Spitz Magazine, a Hebrew periodical for Israelis living in Berlin, that he came because he was curious about Berlin, known as “the pluralistic city,” and felt a certain amount of pride in being the successful Israeli visiting the city.

Artzi was born on a kibbutz in 1949, and grew up in Tel Aviv, but his father spent the Holocaust in the Zionist underground of Romania, while his mother, a Hungarian by birth, survived Auschwitz.

Shlomo Artzi at Caesaria (photo credit: CC-BY-SA TheCuriousGnome, Wikimedia Commons)
Shlomo Artzi at Caesarea (photo credit: CC-BY-SA TheCuriousGnome, Wikimedia Commons)

Artzi sings about certain post-Holocaust issues in his music, in the songs “In Germany Before The War” and “Like A Large Yard.”

He told Spitz that there was a particular meaning in his performance in a synagogue; it wasn’t like one of his usual performances in the Caesarea amphitheater, he said, but he likes a challenge.

“It’s a matter of the connection between the souls and the people,” he said in the interview. “Is there a better place than a synagogue to make that happen? That’s how I look at it.”

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