Israeli Pop Music's Got Judaism
Israeli music is filled with diverse genres and artists from different backgrounds. Among the most popular of these groups is Israeli religious music, which has taken over the pop music charts in the last decade. Read more to hear about some of the most famous artists and their songs! PLUS< scroll to the bottom for a playlist of them all, plus some bonus songs!
Ishay Ribo is a religious Orthodox Jewish Israeli artist. His music is beloved by religious and secular Israelis alike, and much of his repertoire is rooted in Jewish liturgy.
The title of this song (Keter Melucha) is after a popular zemer, "Vayitnu". The song contains lyrics featuring parshiyot from the Torah, as well as highlights from holidays celebrated during the time those parshiyot are read. Filled with biblical references, this song highlights the Jewish calendar and the cycle of reflection it brings.
This song quotes almost entirely from Yom Kippur liturgy, telling the story of the Kohanim in the Temple. The beautiful musicality of the song creates a sense of awe for the listener which mimics the feeling honoring Yom Kippur.
This song's title translates directly to "Elul 2019". Elul is the first month of the Jewish calendar, and the month which holds many of the most important holidays of the year, including Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The song is about reflection, repentance, and the emotional journey of getting into the Book of Life each year.
Omer Adam is a Mizrachi musician who fuses Mizrachi style with Western instrumentation. Born in North Carolina to Israeli parents, Adam has become a sensation in Israel and in North America. He is not religious, though he has made a point of not performing on Shabbat (which meant he had to turn down performing at Eurovision 2019!). Though better known for songs like "Tel Aviv" and "Mahapecha Shel Simcha," his religious music is not to be forgotten!
Adam just released this song, which is a cover of Ofra Haza's song of the same title (also known as "Shmor Na Aleinu"). Its iconic lyrics talk about God's awesome power and yet have a fun vibe!
This song, which translates to "Friday," discusses the excitement of looking forward to Shabbat. The chorus is actually quoted from part of the Kiddush for Shabbat, and its melody is calming to listen to as you bring in Shabbat.
"Modeh Ani" is titled after the first prayer said as someone wakes up. The song is about thanking God for what we have, from the food on our table to smiles and songs. The melody is heartfelt and soothing, perhaps one of Adam's best (in my opinion, at least).
Shwekey is an Orthodox Jewish singer who was born in Israel and then moved to the States as a child. He creates tons of contemporary Jewish music that's fun and upbeat!
"Yishtabach Shemo" is titled after "Yishtabach," a prayer said during the morning P'sukei D'zimra service. The song thanks God "for everything that has happened to me" and paints an image of the Jewish people praising God together.
Rami Kleinstein and his wife are both Israeli musicians, each of whom have been performing since the 1980s. Partway through Kleinstein's music career, he transitioned to becoming more religious, as he had been secular before.
This song talks about the “small gifts” of Shabbat evenings in Israel. Whether religious, secular, or non-Jewish, every Israeli has experienced the magic of Friday night across the country. "Matanot Ktanot" includes a line from the Shabbat evening kiddush.
Eyal Golan is a secular Israeli artist, he does have a song that talks about faith!
The song "Mi She'ma'amin," or "the one who believes," is a song about faith in God. While Golan himself isn't religious, the song talks about national unity and how the nation of Israel is stronger together, especially when they believe in each other.