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2018-10-05 digital edition

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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


October 5, 2018  RSS feed
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Federation to host ‘Israel Story’ podcast troupe for live show

‘Israel Story’ podcasters in their Jerusalem studio. The group is bringing their show, a mix of storytelling, music, singing and “multimedia magic,” here for the 2019 Catalyst event. ‘Israel Story’ podcasters in their Jerusalem studio. The group is bringing their show, a mix of storytelling, music, singing and “multimedia magic,” here for the 2019 Catalyst event. The Jewish Federation of Pinellas and Pasco Counties will host its annual signature event, Catalyst 2019, on Sunday evening, Nov. 4 with a presentation by the Israel Story podcasters, titled “Mixtape: The Stories Behind Israel’s Ultimate Playlist.”

Join this dazzling musical journey as the volume is cranked up in Ruth Eckerd Hall’s Margarete Heye Great Room for a performance by the cast of Israel Story – the state of Israel’s leading podcast and radio show.

The group’s live shows use a combination of radio-style storytelling, live art, music, singing, video, and other multimedia magic to provide intimate glimpses into the lives of Israelis.

Based on a four-part mini-series podcast, the cast of Israel Story will explore seven decades of Israeli tunes in celebration of Israel’s 70th birthday and take folks behind the scenes of some of Israel’s most (and least...) iconic songs, revealing the dramas, complexities and social tensions involved.

The group will share both the history of Israel’s most popular songs, such as the national anthem “Hatikvah,” “Jerusalem of Gold” and “Shir LaShalom,” as well as singing the famed Israeli songs, joined in chorus by the audience.

In describing their “Mixtape” series, the podcasters said, “We discovered that music not only reflects, but often amplifies, our contrasts. We all sing in different keys, with different words and in different voices. And that, at the end of the day, is what Israel is all about. It is not that the inherent complications go away or stop existing. It’s just that somehow, miraculously perhaps, the cacophony can almost sound harmonious.”

Co-founder and host of the podcast Mishy Harman added, “Israelis are a nation of storytellers. We want to share a spotlight to tell the story of a diverse Israel, to showcase and celebrate the plurality of local communities and traditions.”

Israel Story is sure to be a unique and powerful evening,” said Maxine Kaufman, the Federation’s director of arts, culture, and education, “demonstrating how the Federation inspires our community to join together in support of the Jewish homeland by bringing Israel to life here in Pinellas and Pasco counties.”

How it started

“The truth is that this whole project [Israel Story show] was entirely accidental,” said Harman. “Not one of us had any inclination that we were going to become podcasters.”

Harman said just before he came back to Israel, in 2011, he went on a really long road trip across America with his dog. A longtime friend, Ro’ee Gilron, one of the other Israel Story founders, had downloaded This American Life – the quintessential prototype for young podcasters – “because he assumed I would spend a lot of time in my car,” Harman said.

But Harman had never heard of podcasts and initially didn’t listen. Instead he said he “turned to books on tape and some music. Once I reached the Bible Belt, I found Christian radio, which I found fascinating, and I couldn’t get enough of it – and then at some point I got enough of it, and I started listening to these podcasts.

“And then I had this really magical experience, where I was sitting in my car with my dog, and suddenly, in my ears, with my headphones on, I found myself being transported to all sorts of communities all over America and all across the world, meeting people I would never otherwise meet, hearing their most intimate stories, in their own voices.”

Harmon said nothing like this existed in Israel, even though there is a high interest in radio there and a lot of Israelis have cars and listen to music or talk radio.

“We wanted to change that,” Harmon said, “So I came back home and talked to some of my closest friends, and we all got excited about it.”

They worked, at first at night, after their other jobs and obligations were finished, teaching themselves, with help from This American Life’s mastermind Ira Glass, among others, learning the technology and tradecraft they needed. Eventually, they realized that Israel Story was a full-time, all-consuming thing. Not a hobby. A passion.

After only a few months, the show was picked up by Galey Tzahal, Israel’s leading national radio station, and was offered a primetime slot. Each of Israel Story’s first season’s 11 episodes reached an estimated audience of hundreds of thousands With such an overwhelming response the group continued the podcasts in Hebrew, and in 2015 expanded into English.

More about the event

This is the second annual Catalyst event, meant to ignite community enthusiasm and kickstart the Federation’s fund-raising effort. Guests will have the opportunity to be the first to make commitments to the Federation’s 2019 Annual Campaign, which will go to support community-wide Jewish programming of the Federation, partner agencies, and synagogues as well as supporting the ever-changing needs of the global Jewish community, including specific programs in Israel.

The community will also be introduced to Ezra Singer, Federation’s new board president during the program.

The event will begin with cocktails and nosh at 6 p.m. The program is scheduled from 7-9 p.m.

Tickets are available through the Jewish Federation, or by calling (727) 530-3223. Ticket are $118 for VIP seating, $54 for general admission.

Ruth Eckerd Hall is at 1111 Mc- Mullen Booth Road, Clearwater.

Immediate past president of the Federation, Steve Klein, and his wife Amy Klein are the co-chairs of the event. The host committee (still in formation) consists of Steve Schwersky, Natalie Feldman, Byron Kolitz, Susie Schwartz, Phyllis Tauber, Leslie & Robert Freedman, and Leah Barber-Heinz.

Those interested in getting involved in planning or sponsorships, should contact Kaufman at (727) 333-3106 or

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