Hosting: Yonatan Gutfeld

Singer-songwriter, Yonatan Gutfeld, known to Congregation Beth Elohim parents and children as the creator of the unforgettable “Ha’Geemnasia” hymn; that unmistakable tall figure with a guitar strapped to his back; he schools our children and shares his soulful poetic songs.


Yonatan Gutfeld

Yonatan brings an intangible authentically ‘Israeli’ quality to his work among the New York Jewish diaspora.  Our conversation at the Room starts and ends with songs. It isn’t political. The Israeli feeling washes over you like love, not poking with demands or guilt. When he tells us about his childhood in the hills of Judea, the tunnel road, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Brooklyn… these are landscapes, not points of contention. Yet there is a moment in our conversation when the bitter controversies close below the skin surfaces briefly; a quickening in the conversation. It came after Yonatan sing his  ‘Lo Bagilgul ha’ze’ (Not in this reincarnation). Here is my translation:



Not in this reincarnation

This is it, it’s over

Too many Israelis in the West Bank to reach an agreement,

Too many

Not in this reincarnation

What will we do with ourselves now?

What kind of an airplane will take us?

Who will be our new friends?


And what about the language?

All those things we’ve gotten used to?

Who will be our children?


Which neighborhood will we circle at night, when we cannot sleep?

What would the cheap beer be like? The plain cigarettes?

The flavour of bread? And the water?

The afternoon light,


Yonatan finished his singing and the room started to ring with questions. Why leave? Who is leaving? The Jews? Some of the Jews? The privileged (asked the Marxist in the room…)? … Are we reverting back to the Jewish landless condition? Is it accusatory? Is there a note of bitterness? Of resignation? Or maybe – as Shai suggested, these are just the poets who are uprooted(?)

The questions, and the poignant words, remain unanswered

Here is Yonatan in another song:

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