David Broza’s Jerusalems

David Broza’s Jerusalems

Sandee is the arts and culture editor at the Jewish Week.

“[What’s So Funny ‘Bout] Peace Love & Understanding” David Broza asks, in his recording of Nick Lowe’s song on his new CD, “East Jerusalem/West Jerusalem.” That song, with the accompaniment of the Jerusalem Youth Chorus of the Jerusalem International YMCA – a group of Jewish and Arab teens — is now being played regularly on Galei Zahal, Israel Army Radio.

City Winery founder and Jewish Week board member Michael Dorf mentioned this fact, with surprise and delight, at The Jewish Week’s program at Temple Emanu-El on Tuesday evening with David Broza.

“That’s what gives us hope,” Dorf said. He described the singer, composer and musician as “a prolific statesman of peace who uses his guitar to bridge people.”

The evening featured excerpts from a film about the making of “East Jerusalem/West Jerusalem,” a conversation between Broza and Jewish Week board member David Sable, Global CEO of Y&R, and – what the large audience of fans anticipated most — Broza’s live music.

“I could have recorded this anywhere,” Broza said on the film. “I had to do it in Jerusalem, in East Jerusalem.”

The film is shot in a refugee camp in East Jerusalem. Few in the audience had ever seen footage of daily life in a place like this, with the neighborhood landscape of all concrete, not a tree in sight. It’s hard to find a glimpse of beauty here, other than in the music. And Broza creates plenty of that. He goes into a local school and interacts — through a translator and through his guitar – with Palestinian kids.

Muhamad Mugrabi, a vocalist featured on the CD, born in refugee camp, said that all the Israelis he’d previously met were soldiers. An Israeli musician, Gilad Seri, said he spent his life in Jerusalem, not far from the camp, but had never “crossed to this place before.”

Making this recording was Broza’s lifelong dream. Along with Israeli and Palestinian musicians and producer Steve Earle, he worked in the studio for 8 days and 8 nights, with each meal a banquet cooked by Israeli and Palestinian chefs. He hoped that being in the studio would break down barriers and fears, and he says that happened.

At Temple Emanu-El, Broza played the song that has become something of an anthem for him, "Yihyeh Tov," Things will be better, and many in the audience sang along.

“May we one day live together/Underneath the olive tree/Leave a land unto our children/Without the bombs and boundaries,” he sang, resting the guitar on one knee, eyes closed as though thinking about each word before releasing it.

He also sang "Ramallah-Tel Aviv" from the new CD, with the passion of flamenco guitarist from Spain, where he lived for many years. Some say he reminds them of Paul Simon, others, Bruce Springsteen.

Many people lined up to greet him, buy CDs and have him autograph them. He signs off, “With hope, David Broza.”

read more: