Israel’s Nightingale

Israeli singer and songwriter Chava Alberstein, 56, has, been called Israel’s Joan Baez Both women often sing out about peace, about the futility of cycles of violence, and about being an outsider. “End of Holiday” (Rounder Records), Alberstein’s 54th album, is her first collaboration with her husband, Nadav Levitan, who wrote the lyrics. They draw on stark and poignant images of life in modern Tel Aviv. In the title song, crowds of Rosh Hashanah celebrants reluctantly leave a beach at the end of the holiday to return to their everyday lives of work and worry, while prostitutes stroll back to the beach to work.

In another song, a newly Orthodox girl ambivalently returns to a cafe to solicit donations from her old, still-secular friends. A third song with a gypsy melody describes an illegal foreign caregiver who knows only two Hebrew words: yehiyeh beseder, it will be okay. During her U.S. concert tour Alberstein received the Mordechai Gebirtig Lifetime Achievement Award in Music from YIVO. Besides singing in Hebrew, she continues to put Yiddish poetry to beautiful music.