How Mizrahi Music Took Over Israeli Pop

Why did Mizrahi artists have such a hard time breaking into Israel’s mainstream music scene? Over just a few decades, Mizrahi music crossed cultural and social boundaries, introducing Israel’s diverse culture to the world. We’ll take you on a journey from Zohar Argov and Ofra Haza’s bootlegged cassette tapes in the 1970s and 80s to today’s Israeli superstars like Omer Adam, A-WA, and Static and Ben El who are making Mizrahi pop the soundtrack of modern Israel. After watching the video, use the prompts below to learn more and get your students thinking.

  • Review
  • Discussion
  • Activities
  • Reflection
  • Further Learning
  1. Which of the following musical instruments did Sephardi and Mizrahi immigrants to Israel not bring with them?
    • Qanun
    • Oud
    • Guitar
    • Darbuka
  2. What are piyutim?
    • Another name for Jewish sidelocks
    • Jewish liturgical poems often used during prayer
    • Another word for Mizrahi music
    • Pop music in Hebrew
  3. Which of the following Israeli artists or groups are not of Ashkenazi origin?
    • Kaveret
    • Arik Einstein
    • Zion Golan
    • Shlomo Artzi
  4. Who were the original king and queen of Mizrahi music?
    • Omer Adam and Sarit Hadad
    • Zohar Argov and Ofra Haza
    • Benjamin Netanyahu and Eden Ben Zaken
    • The Revivo Project and Nasrin Kadri
  5. Who is currently Israel’s biggest chart topper?
    • Omer Adam
    • Eyal Golan
    • Hanan Ben Ari
    • Noa Kirel
  1. As Israel’s popular music has evolved from completely westernized to more Middle Eastern, so has it’s cultural identity. What does this mean for Israel’s place in the Middle East?
  2. How can the rise of Mizrahi pop in Israel help to bridge cultures between Israel and its neighboring countries?
  3. When you think of “Jewish music” and “Israeli music”, do you think of the same thing? Explain your answer.
  4. What can we learn about Israeli society from the fact that Mizrahi Pop is its most popular genre of music?
  5. In “The Republic,” Plato noted that when the music of a society changes, it’s a clear indicator that the whole society is going through change. Consider examples of music culture from around the world (rock n roll revolution of the 60’s, hip hop in the 80’s, alternative rock in the 90’s) and discuss how the music we listen to says a lot about the culture we live in.
  1. Send your students our Spotify or YouTube playlist of Mizrahi Pop songs from the video and tell your students to listen to the playlist while on a walk or during a workout. Afterwards, ask them to share which song was their favorite and why.
  2. Choose one or two of the Mizrahi pop songs from our playlist and teach them to your students. Then either play “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” with the new songs or Karaoke! (all the Karaoke versions are available on YouTube with lyrics)
  3. Split your students into small groups of 2-3 and assign them a different Mizrahi artist (choose one mentioned in the video or one of these — Kobi Oz, Ehud Banai and Etti Ankri). Ask each group to present about their artist as well one of their favorite songs from the artist.
  4. Watch our other video about Mizrahi Music and utilize the accompanying educational resources.
  5. Give your students our Kahoot on How Mizrahi Music Took Over Israeli Pop!
  1. Unpacked for Educators, Videos about Israeli music
  2. Unpacked for Educators, Minorities and Music in Israel
  3. Matti Friedman, To Understand Israel, listen to its pop music
  4. Israel Story podcast, Mixtape Part III: Eastward Bound
  5. The Tikvah Fund podcast, Matti Friedman on Israel, the Mizrachi Nation
  6. Makom, Israeli Playlists

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