Editor’s Wrapup:: Convergence
Israel’s rebirth brought the past into the present, linking ancient Judea with the modern Jewish people. And over the past 58 years, as the Jewish state developed and technology advanced, the distance between the United States and Israel has shrunk. Several stories in this month’s issue bear witness to this cultural contraction of time and space.
If you listened to Israeli popular music 20 years ago, you might have heard a few ethnic chords, but the most striking thing would have been the similarity to Western rock and pop. Today, there is a deepening spiritual dimension to the music scene, with more and more artists drawing on the Bible and liturgical sources for themes and lyrics. One observer has said that the country’s best bands are “God obsessed.” Rochelle Furstenberg looks at this growing movement in “Pop Music and the Bible” (page 46).
Some cultural phenomena in Israel do look like they were imported from other lands. Take the 150-member Riders of Israel, a small tribe of Israeli men and women who ride around the country on Harley-Davidsons. Call it Zion & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but Riders is just one of several biker clubs traversing Israel’s roads. And as Esther Hecht probes the history and mentality of Israel’s bikers (page 32), she reveals some distinctly Jewish facets.
Every Jewish groom marries his bride “according to the laws of Moses and Israel,” but a growing number of couples are taking this vow literally. Perhaps the surest sign of the shrinking Jewish world is the trend of Jewish couples choosing to have their weddings in the Jewish state. What about the guests? Lots of people fly to weddings these days. Besides, says one groom: “They say you should have…a trustworthy home within Israel…so what better place than to start off there?” Sarah Bronson talks to American couples who married in Israel (page 12) and thereby saw their families, and the two sides of their identities, converge.