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Iconic Israeli Singer Arik Einstein Dies

November 27, 2013 By:
Ben Sales, JTA
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Iconic Israeli singer/songwriter Arik Einstein performing in 1979. Photo by Sa'ar Ya'akov, Wikimedia.

JERUSALEM — Arik Einstein, an iconic Israeli singer as well as a songwriter and actor, has died.

Einstein died Tuesday night at a Tel Aviv hospital, where he was rushed after suffering an aortic aneurysm. He was 74.

Israeli television channels halted their regular programming to broadcast clips and remembrances of the singer, whose first recordings were released in the 1960s.

Fans holding a vigil outside the Sourasky Medical Center cried when the hospital’s director general, Dr. Gabriel Barbash, announced that Einstein had died.

Amid the grief over the passing of Einstein, the Internet has given us a reassuring gem:

Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres — together, in the nineties — singing one of Einstein’s best-known songs, “Ani v’Ata” (You and I).

The clip starts with Israeli celebrities Ofra Haza and Dan Shilon singing the song on stage, but after about a minute and a half they descend to Bibi and Peres, who stand and somewhat awkwardly sing along. Bibi — who wrote not one but two Facebook posts mourning Einstein yesterday — adds his confident baritone to the melody. Peres, though, doesn’t appear to know the words to one of Israel’s most famous songs. After joining in for the opening line, his mouth hardly moves. 

The video’s description says it was shot in 1995 and calls Bibi the prime minister and Peres former prime minister. But in 1995, Bibi led the Knesset opposition while Peres served as foreign minister under Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. One year later, Bibi would edge Peres out in an upset election victory.

Einstein has not performed in front of an audience since the early 1980s following a road accident in which he was seriously injured.

His first album, “Shar Bisvilech” or “Singing for You,” was released in 1966. He was part of the rock band The High Windows with Shmulik Kraus and Israeli-American Josie Katz. He also formed the Lool, or Chicken Coop, comedy troupe.

His other well-known songs included “Oof Gozal” (Fly Away Chick) and “Sa Le’at" (Drive Slowly). See video clips of him performing by clicking the multimedia tab to the right.

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