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It will be better

Stuck at home, Jerusalem neighbors join in balcony sing-a-long

Using amplifiers and the classic Ehud Manor song ‘Bashana Haba’a,’ a neighborhood joins together during coronavirus outbreak

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

It was a spontaneous singalong from the balconies of a Jerusalem block on Sunday evening, as musician Ran Yehoshua led his neighbors in a round of “Bashana Haba’a” (Next Year), the classic Israeli song of hope amid crisis.

Bashana haba’a, neshev al hamirpeset venispor tziporim nodedot.
Next year we will sit on the balcony and count all the migrating birds

Yehoshua had his guitar in hand and amplifier plugged in, and brought his neighbors out to their balconies on their cul de sac in the neighborhood of San Simon.

His street, Ben Tabai, is ringed by apartment buildings, and many of the 1970s-era block apartments have balconies overlooking the interior street.

“We’re really a village on this block,” said Yehoshua, who lives at 8 Ben Tabai.

There are 120 neighbors in their neighborhood WhatsApp group, with lots of young families, sharing information about babysitters and pediatricians, “all the usual stuff,” said Yehoshua.

The idea of hosting a balcony concert came to Yehoshua last week, when the activities he runs through the non-profit that he manages — Latet Pe, helping children who have suffered sexual abuse — were being canceled in schools.

Ran Yehoshua, who took his guitar to his community of neighbors for a balcony sing-a-long (Courtesy Ran Yehoshua)

The organization does much of its work through theater and music, helping kids heal and gain strength. Yehoshua and his staff felt burdened by the onslaught of bad news, and brainstormed about ways to rise above the situation created by the coronavirus.

“Singing always helps us feel better, it’s a way into prayer,” said Yehoshua.

He posted his idea about a neighborhood sing-a-long on the communal Whatsapp, working with another neighbor, Vered Reshef, who lives across the street.

They called the concert for 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, and families made signs to hang from their balconies and roofs.

“We sang songs of being together, ‘BaShana Haba’a,’ ‘Lu Yehi to ‘Let It Be,’ ‘Adom Olam,'” said Yehoshua.

But it was the 1970 song that formed the focus of the event. Lyricist Ehud Manor reportedly didn’t tell Nurit Hirsch, who wrote the music, at first that it was written for his younger brother, Yehuda Viner, who was killed in 1968 in battle. Hirsch therefore composed an upbeat melody for this now classic song.

With its references to the classic Israeli balconies, and the desire to sit, relax and share time with loved ones, and with hopes for better times, it was the perfect tune for this period of quarantine amid the coronavirus crisis.

At some point, another neighbor with an electric guitar emerged on his balcony and joined in the concert, and Yehoshua also noticed someone with a video camera down on the street.

“It was just all there, singing and family and neighbors, and being together, and something happened to people after that.”

The entire concert lasted around 50 minutes, and everyone spent another 20 minutes or so together, talking and conversing from balcony to balcony.

“It was really authentic, just very Jerusalem,” said Yehoshua.

Bashana haba’a, neshev al hamirpeset venispor tziporim nodedot.
Next year we will sit on the porch And count all the migrating birds

Yeladim, bekhoufsha, yesakhakhu tofeset beyn habayit, oulebeyn hasadot.
Children on vacation will play catch Between the house and the fields

Od tire, od tire, kama tov yihye, bashana, bashana haba’a
You will see, you will see How good it will be
Next Year

Anavim adumim, yavshilu ad ha’erev veyugshu tzonenim lashulkhan.
Red grapes will ripen by evening And be served chilled to the table

Verukhot redumim, yis’u el em haderekh itonim yeshanim ve’anan.
Pleasant breezes will blow on to the roads Old newspapers and clouds

Od tire, od tire, kama tov yihye, bashana, bashana haba’a

You will see, you will see How good it will be
Next Year

Bashana haba’a, nifros kapot yadayim, mul ha’or hanigar halavan.
We will spread out our open hands Into the bright white light

Anafa levana, tifros ba’or knafayim vehashemesh tizrakh betokhan.
A white heron will spread force in light its wings And the sun will rise in their midst

Od tire, od tire, kama tov yihye, bashana, bashana haba’a
You will see, you will see How good it will be 
Next Year

Bashana haba’a, neshev al hamirpeset venispor tziporim nodedot.
Next year we will sit on the porch And count all the migrating birds

Yeladim, bekhoufsha, yesakhakhu tofeset beyn habayit, oulebeyn hasadot.
Children on vacation will play catch Between the house and the fields

Next year

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