Family & Education

Sound guide to Israel's diverse voices


From the pop-pop of matkot, Israeli beach tennis, on the shores of Tel Aviv to the call to prayer from a Jerusalem muezzin, a number of summer camps for Jewish youth groups have been listening to the sounds of Israel -without actually being there.

They have been using a new audio resource, i-israel: sounds and visions, designed by the youth network Reshet to support informal educational activities.

It features recordings of four Hebrew songs, the sonorous recitation of Israel's Declaration of Independence by its first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and a collection of sounds from different walks of Israeli life.

"You can do a virtual sound-tour of Israel," said Shelley Marsh, executive director of Reshet, which was set up by UJIA and the Jewish Leadership Council last year.

It has been produced on flash drive so "people can load it on their mobile phones and actually use it out in the field", she said.

"It came in response to what informal educators were telling us. They wanted a resource pack so that they could do more about Israel, but were not sure what to do."

Israeli songs can help to encourage children to listen to Hebrew as well as reinforce some of the words that they know - which is why there has been interest in the resource from Jewish schools, she said.

As well as the songs and sounds themselves, the pack also suggests various ideas on how to incorporate them in educational games.

"The aim is to bring some fun and joy," Ms Marsh said, "You don't want something too heavy. At the same time, you don't want to dumb down our young people."

One track, Who Knows Why oh Why the Zebra Wears Pyjamas, is "a funny song by a band similar to Madness, called Machina," she said. "It goes through the days of the week, so it's a good way for young people to practise some of the Hebrew they have been learning in school".

Another song, Kan, meaning "Here", is a Eurovision entry from the 1990s carrying a strong sabra message; "This is the only place I have in the world," one line goes.

A third track, Bedouin Love Song, by the Israeli Jewish musician David Broza, is, as its name suggests, inspired by Arab culture.

"We have put in different Israeli voices," she said, "because the country is such a melting-pot."

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