In the midst of our technological revolution and fast-paced life it can be fun to take a step back and review Israel’s history. In the pre-State era and the early years of Israel’s existence the security position and economic situation were precarious. Yet in retrospect life seems to have been, in many ways, simpler.
The Milken Archives have been developing a project which explores the Jewish history of American Jewry through the development of its music. This project, the Milken Archive of Jewish Music, contributes a vast amount of knowledge to contemporary understanding of the American Judaism’s history and maturity.
Simultaneously the Archives led by its creator has been collecting materials which have created The Israel Suite which examines the lives of the early pioneers — the “halutzim” — who settled in Israel between the years 1880 – 1936. These settlers built the towns and cities, the early agricultural settlements and the political, social and economic infrastructure that laid the way for the establishment of the Jewish State. The Israel Suite commemorates their work by examining the music that accompanied them as they paved the way for the new country.
Israeli historians view this era as the time of First through Fifth Aliyot — immigrations. Jews arrived from a wide range of lands including Eastern Europe and Mediterranean, North African and Asian countries. They brought with them their traditional melodies and tunes which were then refined to suit their new lifestyles, world outlook and determination to build a Jewish State. The Israel Suite archive includes examples of these musical pieces which bear the influence of the original lands, languages and cultures from where the immigrants came.
The Israel Suite offers listeners the opportunity to hear the songs that inspired the settler’s romantic views of collective life, Yiddish songs which the settlers adapted to suit their new socialist world view and compositions by Zionist poets such as Rachel and ChaimNachman Bialik.