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Times Bureau Chief Gets Down at Masada

Jodi Rudoren, Tu B’Av, David Broza, and Masada

Adam Chandler
August 03, 2012
David Broza(Michael Maze)
David Broza(Michael Maze)

For those who follow the insider politics of the Times and its highly charged and heavily scrutinized Jerusalem bureau chief job, you’ll probably remember that when Jodi Rudoren started her post in February, she got off to a bit of rocky start. After some of her tweets were expertly parsed by Scroll Editor Emeritus Marc Tracy, there were doubts about whether she’d be able to avoid bias on one of the toughest beats in journalism.

This morning, Rudoren went on a Twitter spree at a sunrise David Broza concert with her husband. For you suckers out there, I should add that the concert was at the base of Masada and took place on Tu B’Av–known by some as Jewish Valentine’s Day. Here’s some of what she said:

At David Broza predawn Tu B’av concert at base of Masada, we’re the only ones who don’t know all the words

Energy totally changed now that we can see #masada behind #davidbroza.בוקר טוב everybody.

#DavidBroza is almost 57 and has being playing for almost 3 hrs straight. Zoom in here to see his face

The husband says, “I understood 3 words the entire nite & that was 1 of the best concerts I’ve ever been to.”

To take a trip down to Masada—the historic home of zealous Jewish mass suicide—for a sunrise concert is no joke. It requires a lot of travel that, when factoring Israeli drivers, reveals an insane reservoir of personal will. Your motivations have to be right. And you have to really like David Broza.

To make sure that Rudoren issued a fair report and to help us gauge the meaning of the event, The Scroll sent Michael Maze, the best mole in the Levant, to attend the concert. Maze went under the guise of it being an anniversary present to his new wife which, were it not a cover story, would be totally adorable. For context on the show, the performer, and the venue, here’s what he had to say:

After a culinary stop in Be’er Sheva, and a nap in the car after almost intruding on the deep sleep of African refugees in a public park in Arad—it’s a fact of life here that you are always bumping into the headlines—the full moon provided some much needed assistance along the windy road through the mountains from Arad to the Western side of Masada.

The venue is magical—at the foothills of Masada, the stage awash in color and the lights atop the plateau bringing out its strong outline against the night sky. Broza is one hell of a guitarist and a real showman; he shines in front of a live audience—what I imagine were several thousand people who all traveled for several hours.

There was a lot of love for the man and a lot of singing along. He danced all over the stage and soaked up his fans’ energy such that no one observing either Broza or the crowd could have guessed it was 4:30 in the morning. One of the highlights for me were a couple of songs by the late, great Meir Ariel, his close friend, and in my humble opinion, modern Israel’s best folk songwriter.

On a personal note, while we sang along with old favorites and rediscovered others, I found one song surprisingly difficult to connect to. Yihye Tov—in free translation “It’s all gonna be fine”—penned by poet and humorist Yehonatan Geffen may as well be the anthem of [Young Judaea Camp] Tel Yehuda.

But, for the first time probably ever last night, so many lines in the song failed to pass through our cynicism filter such that even its message sounded less relevant than ever. Maybe it’s because Israelis are living in an era of unprecedentedly complex problems and not a time of despair that we need hope less than clear vision.

Last night I could find neither as I reflected on Geffen’s words in a 2012 context. Spending the pre-dawn hour at the base of a national monument whose symbolism of sacrifice over survival I find stupid and abhorrent, simultaneously singing and contemplating a song about striving for peace amidst horrific violence—as we say ’round these parts, rak b’yisrael.

At any rate, it was the best Israeli concert I’ve ever been to.

Let’s hope Rudoren gets the report right.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.