The FoolsThe truth is, when CK asked me if I wanted to go to the Fools of Prophecy concert at the Knitting Factory, I said “What? And leave the Upper West Side for a few hours? But how will it survive?” I had no idea where the night would take me. (Quite literally. I knew I had to get off the train at Franklin, but beyond that, who knew for certain?)

Due to various technical transportational difficulties, my friend and I “decided” to wander the downtown area in the wrong direction for several minutes in order to work up enough sweat so we’d be able to fit in with the rest of the Foolers. Good to get that blood moving, anyway. Eventually, we arrived nearly a half hour after we were supposed to get there. I knew the concert was sold out so I was a little agitated. But lo and behold, in the great tradition of Jews and Israelis, the concert was nowhere near ready to start. My friend correctly noted that Jewish standard time means a half hour late, and Israeli standard time is a half hour beyond that. Let the sweating begin! Or continue…

OK, so it was hot. More sweating. More waiting. More Israelis in less clothing poured through the front doors. I was standing in back of a guy with the most gorgeous, long, thick, black taltalim (curls)…that smelled like they were completely made of marijuana.

FOJ (Friend of Jewlicious) Eitan Schwartz, my friend’s cousin/Israel’s “Ambassador” (who represents Israel at events all over the country) and his lovely chaverah with a beautiful name (Reyut, meaning friendship), were there to greet us in English and in Hebrew, and welcome us to the concert, which was co-sponsored by Israel At Heart.

The crowd seemed to be a mix: nicotine-scented Israeli men confused by the fact that the band scheduled to play was the “Fools of Prophecy,” when they had clearly bought tickets for “Shotei Hanevuah” (Fools of Prophecy in Hebrew), and barely dressed Jewish college coeds who hadn’t heard of the Fools before but were out at a concert for fun and possibly to find a nice tall Israeli man to explain the lyrics to them. There was also one random modern-looking yeshivish guy with a kippah bouncing around like Happy (Sweaty Jewish) Fun Ball. (“Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.”)

The Fools’ sound was varied, and hard to really explain: kind of like Depeche Mode meets Yes meets Bob Marley meets Ethnix meets hora. There was certainly reggae influence (even reflected in the MANY Red Stripe drinkers in the hizzie), and there was a global-leaning-toward-Middle-Eastern rhythm. The music was really loud, and the bass was overpowering, which is a shame, given the fact that these guys have amazing voices, and I would have liked to have been able to hear them better. (I guess I’ll have to buy the album…) I said that the Fools reminded me a little of the Dave Matthews Band, but my friend–a musician himself–thought their technical musical skills were kind of basic and said that there was a vast difference in ability between them and Dave Matthews. He also wished there had been more audience interaction and explanation of the messages, since about half of the audience were clearly clueless about anything beyond the rhythm, but admitted that the Fools’ strong vocal lines carried the songs.

I needn’t have worried about how I’d feel about a concert during the nine days; I left “unpainted corners” wherever I went. Firstly, I didn’t listen to their music ahead of time, because I knew that would enhance my enjoyment. Secondly, nearly everything we did was zecher lemikdash (in memory of the destroyed temple):

*Wandering through the desert downtown because we refused to ask for directions
*Spending time by the waters of Babylon Battery Park (it wasn’t THAT far away)
*Combating a mild sense of panic that we’d be crushed where we stood by falling debris of the Temple (of Rock)
*Plus, did I mention how uncomfortably hot it was?

We left a little on the early side, to let the other kids have their fun. After sweating inside, the balmy night air seemed a relief. And even the sweltering subway platform wasn’t all that bad. We met up with two young women who had been at the concert and I quizzed them on the train. Gabrielle, a student at SUNY Purchase, heard about the concert from her Israeli Hillel Directors and brought her friend Tamar, a student at SUNY Buffalo. Gabrielle, who is half-Israeli, said she’s been to Israel a number of times, including a trip with birthright, and noted that Americans have an idea of what Israel is like only from the news. It was important, she said, for people to understand what Israelis do every day, and the way they look at things, pointing to the Fools as a group that “really represents Israel.” (Sounds like Israel at Heart is doing a good job…)

Thanks to Eitan and Israel at Heart for the hookup. The Fools are gigging at the Staten Island Yankees’ Jewish Heritage Day on August 15, so go and check ’em out.

I’ll play you out with some lyrics (from their website, one typo edited):

This generation demands peace in the nations
Generation demands peace,
Generation demands peace in the nations all night long,
Generation demands peace in the nations
And light upon the Middle East
Generation demands peace in the nation all night long

Beneath the pomegranate tree I can hear an ancient melody
It calls me back to where I was before I came
And so I glide on two thousand years of history
As silent voices keep repeating my name
Then again I open my eyes into the in to the future
On the horizon of the holy land
It’s time we stand up and rise above the foolish lies
That keeps preventing us from entering the paradise
The divine is absolute power
But no religion is stronger than the Divine
Loving god will only gives us better understanding
I believe the word is coming through.


  1. Jobber

    8/9/2005 at 1:32 pm

    So basically, it sucked.

  2. dafna1

    8/9/2005 at 1:52 pm


  3. pai-gow

    8/9/2005 at 2:07 pm

    The Fools Rocked!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. wine guy

    8/9/2005 at 4:03 pm

    I just found out yasmin levy is going to be performing at the Skirball Center in LA on the 24 and 25 of august. She really has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard she sings in hebrew, spanish and ladino. Just thought I’d give u guys a heads up

  5. esther

    8/9/2005 at 5:29 pm

    Not at all, Jobber. It was a bit of a comedy of errors getting there. But I think I was just too old (or too sober or too tired or too dehydrated) to endlessly grind with sweaty strangers to the music of a band I don’t already know…

    Objectively, they did indeed rock.

  6. D

    8/9/2005 at 7:13 pm

    I wanted to see them SO badly!

    Alas….The 9 days…

  7. Rebecca

    8/10/2005 at 12:06 am

    i saw shotei hanevua my first motzei shabbos (as an olah hadashah) in israel 2 weeks ago- and they totally ROCKED! i can’t wait ’till they come Home…

  8. ybocher

    8/10/2005 at 12:40 am

    mazal tov Rebecca! titchadshee and hopefully you are establishing the new/final trend and we should all meet there soon!

  9. ybocher

    8/10/2005 at 12:42 am

    ok it did say laya a moment ago. and i did wonder how come laya is still hadasha but anyway rebeccah! mazal tov.

  10. ybocher

    8/10/2005 at 1:20 am

    happy 2nd anniversary laya!

  11. Yitz Yavneh

    8/10/2005 at 1:38 am

    I can only thank Eitan and his beautiful girlfriend for the lovely reception we got at the door. I am not so hezzie, and not so rocked, but the volume was overpowering unfortunately. If only the crowd understood the words. If only…

  12. laya

    8/10/2005 at 2:43 am

    sorry, ybochur, that was my roomate rebecca posting from my pc…

  13. ybocher

    8/10/2005 at 3:28 am

    yeah i was told! hence my anniversary mazal tov to you.
    i m sure it s not exact 2 years but i m trying.

  14. themiddle

    8/10/2005 at 4:10 am

    Esther, have I told you your writing is a joy to behold?

  15. esther

    8/10/2005 at 10:43 am

    TM, not for a while. But I really appreciate it…

    Todah rabbah…

  16. ck

    8/10/2005 at 12:04 pm

    Esther could write about a bowel movement and it would still be amazing. I still cannot believe she readily agreed to grace Jewlicious with her presence. Esther rooolz! Why can’t I like, you know, write like that and stuff? 😉

  17. dede

    8/10/2005 at 12:14 pm

    First time I ever heard Shotei Hanevuah (which is much prettier than “fools of prophecy”) was at the 2004 Sulha (www.sulha.com), and they were incredible. They have this amazing song about peace, that has the chorus:
    Af echad lo yaazov po, az tatchilu le’ehov

    which means nobody’s leaving this place, so let’s start to love

    Beautiful. Just beautiful. And they’re so chill.

  18. Josh Getzler

    8/10/2005 at 12:46 pm

    I’m writing for a couple of reasons. The first is that I’m a (recent) big fan of Shotei Hanevu’a, and the second is that I am also the guy who is bringing them to Staten Island on Monday. I’ve been listening to them since my friend Eitan and the rest of the folks from Israel at Heart(a super group)contacted me in March. They had heard about the Staten Island Yankees; that my family was religious, that we had a Jewish Heritage Night every year, and that we usually had a band. So they hooked me up with the Fools.

    I also ran down to Leonard Street on Monday (left a game in the middle to try to get there on time), and also found myself in the middle of a bunch of extremely sweaty, dancing people. I thought the show was excellent, particularly since it seemed that they stayed with the most popular songs (ein ani, generations, etc.), and I found that most of the crowd was singing along.

    The Fools will be at our Ballpark on Monday (day after Tisha B’av, so eat, drink, dance, etc!), for a show that will immediately follow the Staten Island Yankees game. The game starts at 7:10. Tickets are $9 and $11, and contrary to popular belief, it’s not even an extreme shlep to get here–we are directly adjacent to the SI Ferry terminal, so it’s less than 1/2 hour from downtown Manhattan. It’s also Jewish Heritage night, so we’ll have more kosher food than our usual Meal Mart hot dogs and Gabilla’s knishes, and we’ll also have an extensive Judaica raffle.

    Come on out! And if you need more info go to http://www.siyanks.com or call 718-720-9265 x 217. That’s my own extension, and I’ll be happy to fill you all in. TELL YOUR FRIENDS!!!!!

    Thanks for the time.

    Josh Getzler
    Chief Operating Officer
    Staten Island Yankees

  19. Tom Morrissey

    8/10/2005 at 1:53 pm

    With all respect to Mr. Getzler, Jewlicious readers should avoid his team and ballpark– unless he assures us that none of Monday’s revenue goes to pay the likes of Sheffield, Giambi, and the rest of Boss Steinbrenner’s juicers up north in the Bronx.

    Go Sox.

  20. esther

    8/10/2005 at 4:18 pm

    Hmm. CK makes a compelling point. Why am I here anyway? 😉

    Thanks, guys. It’s nice to be appreciated. You guys do okay, too. Each of you has contributed posts that “got to me” in one way or another at various points, so it’s not like none of y’all can write…

    And although I have no desire to write about a bowel movement (David Sedaris has already done that), it’s good to know that your faith in me is unflushable.

  21. Josh Getzler

    8/10/2005 at 4:49 pm

    None of Monday’s revenue will go toward any juicers. Just toward paying my empoloyees’ salaries (none of whom, as far as I know, does anything more than drink the occasional OJ in the morning).

  22. Tom Morrissey

    8/10/2005 at 4:54 pm

    Finally– a man of integrity associated with the Yankee organization….

  23. grandmuffti

    8/10/2005 at 5:01 pm

    When Muffti heard that he had written something that got to Esther, he blushed. Except then Muffti realized that there is also a bad sense of ‘got to me’. Seems you may be exploiting that polysemy a bit…was it Muffti’s misspelling of ‘weird’ that did it?

  24. ybocher

    8/10/2005 at 6:29 pm

    wow muffti you have amazing memory! you still remember that esther’s small rebuke?

  25. esther

    8/10/2005 at 11:18 pm

    Polysemy? Dude, everyone here knows I don’t even have one husband let alone two or three…

    GM, is that the kind of relationship we have, that even my compliments are suspect? Do not make me sic Myddle Englysh on your philosophizing ass. Just don’t spell “weird” wrong, especially in headlines, and you and I are fine.

    The prospect that something I said could make Muffti blush…means that there’s hope for the future.

  26. laya

    8/11/2005 at 3:48 am

    hey ck, missed the bus, call me?

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