The judges on “The Voice Israel” were dumbstruck Sunday night when violinist Ariella Zeitlin-Hoffman, an immigrant from the US, belted out Bruno Mars’ “Marry You,” accompanied by her energetic fiddling, for the first round of the television musical talent show.
Miri Mesika kept her hands poised over the button used to select the singers that judges want to mentor, while the rest of the judges — singers Shlomi Shabat, Aviv Geffen and Avraham Tal — glanced at each other, sure that each wanted the chance to work with the voice they were hearing from behind their swivel chairs.
“So, all of us?” asked Geffen.
Yep, all of them, as they all swiveled around to see Zeitlin-Hoffman, each hitting the “I Want You” button.
If they were surprised by Zeitlin-Hoffman’s appearance, they didn’t say so.
Zeitlin-Hoffman, who is religiously observant, wore a flowered scarf over her long chestnut hair at the performance, along with a pink shirt and knee-skimming skirt. But it was her voice, strong and robust, that stood out.
הערב, ביצוע כזה עוד לא נראה, הכינור ששרף את הבמה!
Posted by The Voice ישראל on sestdiena, 2016. gada 31. decembris
An immigrant from Baltimore, Maryland, who moved to Israel at 17, Zeitlin-Hoffman — her married name is Hoffman — wrote on her Facebook page before the televised performance that it was a big decision for her to decide to sing publicly, as a religious, married woman who is married to a rabbi, and who also counsels young brides.
According to observant Jewish religious tradition, it is considered immodest for women to sing publicly.
But Zeitlin-Hoffman has opted to view the prohibition a little differently.
“There are always people who aren’t ready to hear different sides, and in our world we have to find a way to listen,” wrote Zeitlin-Hoffman on her Facebook page. “Part of the happiness that I am privileged to participate in is with people through music, which is a gift from me to you and a gift from God, allowing me to make people happy and dance in different situations and I see that as my lot in life.”
Zeitlin-Hoffman earned her MA at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance and also attended the Perlman Music Program for outstanding young musicians.
According to her Facebook profile — Zeitlin-Hoffman isn’t limited from interviewing during the competition portion of “The Voice” — she has collaborated on soundtracks for video games, film scores and albums and is known in local circles for her loop pedal performances, repeating back short passages played on her violin.
She isn’t the only religiously observant American immigrant contestant who recently made waves on “The Voice.”
Harmonica-playing Avi Ganz, who won over all four judges with his rendition of Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry,” surprised them with his button-down shirt and black knitted yarmulke.
“We thought you’d have dreadlocks,” said Shabat.
When Ganz said that he’s more of a cantor than a professional singer, the judges encouraged him to sing a line or two of liturgy, and Ganz offered “Dror Yikra,” the Sabbath song, to the music composed by pianist Yonatan Razel.
“Only in Israel can something like this happen,” said Geffen, who then embarked on a conversation about God and belief with Ganz. But the easygoing American from Scranton, Pennsylvania, chose Shabat, because of his years of experience.
The Voice Israel airs Wednesday and Saturday at 9 p.m. on Reshet.