Sunday, July 12, 2009

Watching Israeli Idol, otherwise known as כוכב נולד--A (Israeli) Star is Born

What can I say? I knew that sooner or later I'd watch this show. If you know me, you know that pop culture is something I enjoy uselessly filling my brain with; I'm trying to develop an understanding of the Israeli version of this so I can fill up my brain with more useless facts. Not so easy to do while trying to maintain the American part at the same time. After I read an article in the Jerusalem Post about Elchai Refuah, one of the contestants, I decided this was the season to get into this very popular show here in Israel. Here is what the official "Kochav Nolad" website has to say about Elchai:

אלחי נולד לפני 18 שנה בירושלים בתור ילד שני במשפחה של ארבעה ילדים. הוא סיים את לימודיו בישיבה התיכונית "חורב" ירושלים וכעת ממתין לגיוסו. הוא עדיין לא יודע באיזו יחידה הוא ישרת, אך אם לא יתקבל ללהקה צבאית הוא מעדיף לשרת ביחידה קרבית או מודיעין, כי יש לו חיבה לשפות זרות. אבל אל תחשבו שהוא לא עושה כלום עד הגיוס. אלחי מדריך בסניף של "בני עקיבא", מתנדב בעמותת "שלווה" וגם לומד במרכז למוסיקה בירושלים. אגב, הוא טרם מצא את בחירת ליבו

Elchai was 18 years ago in Jerusalem, the second of four children. He finished his high school studies in the "Chorev" Yeshiva and is currently waiting to be drafted. He still does not know in which unit he will serve; if he is not accepted to the army band he would prefer to serve in a combat unit or intelligence because he has a love of foreign languages. But don't think he's doing nothing until he is drafted. Elchai is a madrich (counselour) in his local Bnei Akiva branch, volunteers for the organization "Shalvah" and is studying at the Music Center of Jerusalem. By the way he has not yet found the love of his heart (Hey!! I'm just translating the stuff!)

So this kid is a graduate of a very highly respected boys yeshiva in Jerusalem. According to the JP article, Elchai asked the school administration about participating in the show. He states, "They were not enthusiastic, but they did not forbid my participation. If they had, I wouldn't have done it.They advised me not to lose my modesty, not to forget to put on tefillin. I felt it could be a glorification of God's name if a religious singer did well."

This is the seventh season of "Israeli Idol". I watched tonight's show--and was surprised to see not only Elchai, but another young man wearing a kipah. The other singer sang the hebrew version of Simon and Garfunkel's The Sound of Silence . Some may argue that this is not an appropriate venue for religious people. Go ahead, argue away. I enjoy watching people blessed with G-d-given talents realizing their dreams. And wearing their kipot while doing so.

The show itself is kind of cheesy. The judges consist of Dana International, Tzvika Pik and others I don't recognize, but the ones I mentioned are kinda scary looking (sorry to be mean about it). Definitely no Simon Cowell or even Paula Abdul here. Still, it was fun to watch. And for now my favorite contestant is safe, so I'll try to keep up with the show. Unfortunately, I have noone at work to discuss this with at the watercooler (I doubt my chareidi colleagues are into Idol) and noone in my family is willing to watch with me. So I guess I'll have to report every now and then to you, my not-so-captive audience.

What's that you say? Project Runway is coming to Israel? I am so there. I'll report back soon.

BTW, Haveil Havalim is up at How to be Israeli--a blog I really enjoyed getting to know.


Rachel said...

I saw him sing on last night's show Interestingly, the show was all duets, and I think he was in the only duet w/ 2 men. Someone had to be, as there are more male than female contestents, but I wonder if he volunteered or requested it.

Baila said...

That was the show I saw last night. There was one other male duet performing as well. The other guy with a kipah performed Sound of Silence with a woman. I did notice that Elchai and his duet partner looked deeply into each other's eyes while singing. What was that all about?

Anonymous said...

can we hear him sing anywhere i am interested. never have time to watch american idol too busy carpooling etc.

JJ said...

This is the first year that I'm sort of watching the show (we recently got rid of cable, so there's not much left to choose from). I can't remember what Elchai's voice sounds like- the one that stands out in my mind is Paula. She sounds sort of like Sarah McLaughlin. I think the girl who did the "Sounds of Silence" duet is so cute- but she's not good enough to win.

Anonymous said...

Ah Pop Idol, Pop Idol (as we call it here in the UK). It can be strangely addictive. I tend to follow this approach on any sort of series like this - avoid the first few so they weed out the people that really should know better, then watch just one, 'just to see'... and then end up watching the whole series...

Somtimes, you just need to be ever so slightly vacant, don't you?! Intrigued by the kippot wearing singers though - good for them! It would never happen here....



Anonymous said...

A few years ago, Shaye Gabsu is another religious guy who became famous after his participation in Kochav Nolad. He came in third or fourth. I'm sure you've heard his (really good) song on the radio (lo ratziti lalechet, lo ratziti liyot sham....)

Only in Israel!

Shari Jovani

Baila said...


I'll try to send you a link.


Also thinking of getting rid of cable. But so far just thinking.


Thanks for stopping in.


Now I have someone to talk about the show with at the water cooler at work!