UCLA's Nazarian Center brings iconic hip-hop act from Israel to campus
Israel's hottest musical group, the platinum-selling Hadag Nahash, is coming to Los Angeles for a public workshop on the UCLA campus and an exclusive live performance at one of Hollywood's premiere nightlife venues. The band's visit, on Feb. 28, is sponsored by the UCLA Nazarian Center for Israel Studies.
The concert and workshop, as well as a lecture at UCLA focusing on Hadag Nahash's cultural and musical impact on Feb. 29, are part of the Nazarian Center's effort to promote the study of the history, society and culture of Israel, said Arieh Saposnik, the center's director and an associate professor of Near Eastern languages and cultures at UCLA.
"Hadag Nahash is known for its groundbreaking engagement with Israeli social and political issues in its lyrics and music," Saposnik said. "This is a great opportunity for us to give our students and the community an up-close-and-personal look at this multi-award–winning act and allow them to learn about Israel and its realities in a meaningful and powerful way."
The celebrated group, which was founded in 1996 in Jerusalem and has played with such hip-hop and rap greats as Black Eyed Peas and Cyprus Hill, is widely recognized in Israel for its community involvement and social justice advocacy efforts.
These topics will be addressed on Tuesday, Feb. 28, when band members lead an interactive program at UCLA Schoenberg Music Building (Room 1343). The event will include a discussion about the band's history and musical influences and the many ways in which their music is engaged with Israeli social issues. The workshop, which will also feature a rare acoustic set by the band, is open to all UCLA students and members of the public and will run from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
The following day, Feb. 29, Azzan Yadin-Israel, an associate professor of Jewish studies at Rutgers University, will give a free public lecture in UCLA's Bunche Hall (Room 4357) focusing on Hadag Nahash's multi-layered use of Hebrew and exploring the band's musical and cultural settings and impact. The talk will be held from noon to 2 p.m. (The band will not be at the lecture.)
"The workshop, concert and lecture are all part of the overall mission of the UCLA Nazarian Center for Israel Studies to present a vast array of different aspects of Israeli culture and society — fostering a broad understanding of the country that goes beyond newspaper headlines," Saposnik said.
In addition to earning awards in Israel for best band of the year, album of the year, best video of the year and best lyricists of the year, Hadag Nahash is well-known for its commitment to community, cultural and social issues. In 2001, lead singer Shaanan Street launched the One Shekel Festival, an annual event that aims to promote cultural harmony through music. Madonna, Leonard Cohen and the Pet Shop Boys are among those who have headlined the event in recent years.
The Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies, established in 2010 to promote the study of the history, culture and society of Israel as a modern Jewish and democratic state, is the first full- fledged Israel studies center on the West Coast and one of three in the nation that are named and endowed. It sponsors undergraduate and graduate-level courses on Israeli arts and literature, as well as law, politics, economics and history, as part of a curriculum highlighting the complexity, diversity and multifaceted nature of Israel.