Tuesday, June 18, 2024 -
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“Black Over White”

With the Gaza War still fresh, and Israeli elections getting ugly, it’s hard to remember that good stuff is still going on. A film screened Monday at the Denver Jewish Film Festival successfully fulfilled the task of reminding us that exchange and coexistence – though perhaps not seamlessly – do exist in the Near East.

In “Black Over White” Tomer Heymann follows the Idan Raichel project as it tours Ethiopia. In his music,  Raichel – of Ashkenazic descent – fuses African and Middle Eastern musical traditions, creating a truly Israeli sound, one that encompasses the different cultures of the land. All is not so simple, however, and during the tour, the Ethiopian musicians must face issues of identity and heritage. The contrast between the musicians jamming with locals and meeting future Israeli immigrants highlights their sense of displacement.

Despite the larger, ever-present questions, Heymann doesn’t allow us to forget the joy that results from artistic collaboration. The blend of traditional and contemporary musical traditions, Hebrew and Amharic lyrics, Oriental and African sounds, reminds us how diverse the Jewish world is, and both the importance of as well as the beauty to be gained from interchange.

1 thoughts on ““Black Over White”

  1. Ben M.

    Art is art. Let it be evaluated on its own terms. But what’s this talk of more potential immigrants to Israel from Ethiopia? All of the Ethiopian Jews have been brought to Israel. What’s left are “Falash Mura.” Translation: Christians. It’s irrational for any Israeli to want to bring these Ethiopian to Israel, which is a Jewish state. The Jewish state should have Ethiopian Jews, and it does. But not Ethiopian Christians. The rank apologia offered is that these Ethiopian Christians’ forbears were “forcibly” converted to Christianity. Generations later, they’re Christians — period. They don’t qualify for Israeli citizenship and immigrant rights any more than the descendants of Marranos, who require a valid conversion process to become Jewish. If you’re going to qualify for automatic Israeli citizenship all the people whose ancestors were once Jews, that’s the end of the Jewish state even faster than the admittance of all the supposed millions of descendants of the Palestinians who fled Israel in 1948.


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