Shaanan Streett, one-sixth of the Israeli hip-hop/funk group Hadag Nahash, says that it’s all well and good for musicians to advocate for social-justice causes, but that doesn’t mean the music can’t also be fun. Streett seems to have accomplished both goals, as his band’s songs are featured in protests for various causes while remaining catchy and danceable. As long as you “keep it real,” Streett says, audiences will pick up on your authenticity.
In our interview, Streett talks about what music can do to bring people together and about his hometown of Jerusalem.
First, tell us where you grew up and how you came to the music world.
I was born in 1971 in Jerusalem. I still live on the outskirts of Jerusalem. After the army, I, like many Israelis, traveled the world. When I was in the US, I started hearing a lot of hip-hop, and like a true traveler, I had a pad and a pen, and I started writing down rhymes in Hebrew. And when I came back to Israel, I recorded one song. I handed it out in CD stores. And one of the employees at one of the CD stores turned out to be a guy with an instrumental funk band. And that’s how we started.
Before we go more into your music, tell me about Jerusalem. There’s the Jerusalem of everybody’s imagination around the world, and there’s the real Jerusalem in which real people live.
Yeah, nobody lives in the Jerusalem of the imagination, not a single person. But oddly enough, nobody lives in the Jerusalem of the real world, either. We all live somewhere in between. Doesn’t matter what religion you belong to, if any; if you’re in this city, you won’t only live on what’s happening on the floor, you’re going to live thousands of years of history, millions and millions of hopes and shattered hopes. It’s all circulating around you at any given moment. And, in that sense, it’s super artistic.
You’re involved in art, films, and music. What can these things do to foster Jewish pride or bring people together?
It’s really hard for me to put baggage on art. If it happens, it happens because the art did it, not the artist. It’s hard to explain. My only advice would be a classic hip-hop phrase: keep it real, do it as real as you can. Even when it seems like it’s the wrong thing to do, still speak your mind. And that’s the only way, at least for me and my band, to connect.
What, to you, is keeping it real? I know that you founded a number of community activities, including the One Shekel Festival, that help to strengthen marginalized communities. Is that an important part of what you do?
I think that involvement in social issues in Israel is kind of like a privilege or a benefit that artists can choose. Because people do want to hear what we have to say, and it’s up to us to decide if we want to say it or not. So yeah, when I was speaking earlier about keeping it real, it’s not to shy away from the issues, it’s to talk about the issues. And if people can act — perfect. If we can hold a festival in a place that never had one—amazing. If we can volunteer in a cancer ward — amazing. If we can perform in a forest that they want to tear down to turn into a neighborhood—even though all of the green movements think that it’s a disaster—we’ll do it. So, we try to stay close not only to the art but also to what’s happening. But that does get very, very tiring because we aren’t politicians, and we aren’t activists. We’re artists with our hearts in the right place.
Do you feel like you need to balance writing about social issues and just writing something that’s fun? Or can you accomplish both?
We demand the freedom to write whatever we want at any given time, and that can be about, for example, marijuana or just having a good time, as well as social injustice. It’s not one or the other. Our lives contain both. And when we want to keep it real, we have to speak about both. If I can give you an example from our latest album that we’re still recording, actually. But our first single that was released is a real good vibe, fun kind of tune with funny rhyming and funny references for Israelis. The single that we’re releasing tomorrow is called the “City of God,” and it’s about Jerusalem and what it does to its inhabitants over time. So, totally different topics, but music from the same band, and we’re always trying to keep it funky and fun. Having fun is super important to us. Because even if you’re saying important stuff, but it’s not fun, who wants to join? Right? There’s a saying that is something like, “If you can’t dance to it, it’s not my revolution.”
Who are some of your hip-hop influences?
I just did my top-five artists on Spotify. The first one this year was Lil Wayne. And the second one was a female rapper here in Israel called Eden Dersso. Number three was Kendrick Lamar. Number four was Eminem. And then number five was an Israeli rapper called Peled. So, actually, the top five were all hip-hop. But I’m influenced by various things — anywhere from jazz to rock and roll, reggae, electronic music, funk, of course, and a bunch of hip-hop from all over the world.
One theme of the Z3 conference is achieving Jewish unity and pride. What kind of advice do you have for younger people who may be reluctant to show their Jewish pride?
I think the best method would be to find something on Judaism that you connect with. Find certain elements and be proud of that. Narrow it down. You’re not holding 5,000 years of Jewry on your shoulders. You don’t need to feel that way. Judaism, and for that matter, Diaspora Jews, have so much to be proud of. Diaspora Jews have achieved so much that there’s plenty to be proud of inside that enormous umbrella. So just find the things you connect with and be proud of that. I think that’s a good way to start.
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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