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Israel Story

Israel Story is an award-winning podcast that tells true stories you won't hear on the news. Hosted by Mishy Harman, the bi-weekly show brings you extraordinary tales about ordinary Israelis. The show is produced in partnership with Tablet Magazine. For Hebrew episodes, see סיפור ישראלי, or go to our website: israelstory.org See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

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3: People of the Book

Three stories revolving around people who rescue books, chase after books, or otherwise allow books to determine their destiny.Are Jews still “the people of the book”? Are Israelis? What does that even mean today? In the third episode of Israel Story, we’ve got three stories that all revolve around people who rescue books, chase after books, or otherwise allow books to determine their destiny—from a Yiddish book collector based in the Tel Aviv central bus station to a lonely college student to bibliophiles in search of the lost fragments of the Aleppo Codex.Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by signing up for our newsletter at israelstory.org/newsletter/. For more, head to our site or Tablet Magazine. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

1hr

27 Oct 2014

Rank #1

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40: "The Wall" Part I - Operation Hulda

And... we're back! We kick off our fourth season with a brand new miniseries - "The Wall." Today's roller-coaster of a mystery begins with Israeli paratroopers liberating the Kotel, continues with a symbolic mid-war birth, and ends up going in the most surprising direction imaginable.Everywhere we turn these days, it seems as if walls are staring back at us. Their powers are magical: They protect and alienate; keep people both in and out; and can even - as we have all seen - bring mighty governments to a total standstill. Israel, too, has its share of walls, and no, not just the West Bank separation wall. In this four-part miniseries, we visit some of the country's most famous walls journeying from the Bronze Age to the modern-day Start-Up Nation, from the soccer pitch to the Six Day War, from the holy to the political.Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by signing up for our newsletter at israelstory.org/newsletter/. For more, head to our site or Tablet Magazine. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

53mins

2 Jul 2019

Rank #2

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47: By the Rivers of Babylon

A century ago, close to one-third of Baghdad's population was Jewish. Today, just five Jews remain in the city. In today's episode, we explore the story of the Jews of Iraq, all the way from Nahum the prophet to a Jerusalemite grandma who became the unlikely champion of kidnapped Yazidi girls.Jews first arrived in what is today Iraq in the 6th century BC, after the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar sacked Solomon's Temple. It was from there that Ezra and Nehemiah led returning exiles back to Jerusalem. It was there that the Babylonian Talmud was debated, compiled and codified. And it was there, in 1941, that the Farhud - a violent pogrom - left hundreds of Baghdad's Jews dead and thousands injured.While there were many different phases in this 2600-year-long history, Jews knew numerous prosperous periods in the 'land between the two rivers.' There were Jewish politicians, jurists, doctors, businessmen. There was even a Jewish Miss Baghdad.Today that community is all but gone.Ari Jacob wrote the original music in “You Cannot Clap With One Hand.” Joel Shupack arranged the music for the rest of the episode, and for parts of Act I, with music from Blue Dot Sessions. Shai Satran and Mishy Harman edited the episode, and Sela Waisblum mixed it all up. It was recorded in Jonathan Friedlander's 'Quality Sound Studio' in Jerusalem. The end song is a new cover version we commissioned of Boney M.'s "Rivers of Babylon.” It was recorded, arranged and performed by Shay Perry.Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by signing up for our newsletter at israelstory.org/newsletter/. For more, head to our site or Tablet Magazine. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

50mins

19 Nov 2019

Rank #3

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20: 68 and Counting- Part I

This is the first in a two-part series that takes us through Israel’s short but dramatic history. Over the last few months, we’ve spent many hours, in all kinds of archives, learning all we could about Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. The result is a mosaic of stories that took place on Yom Ha’Atzmaut itself, in ten year intervals, and that in some way reflect their era.Part I will take us from 1948 to 1978: We’ll visit Israel’s first makeshift national radio studio, we’ll ride a bicycle piled high with Persian carpets, we’ll march in an extravagant military parade in Jerusalem, and finally we’ll sink some dramatic game-winning jump shots. Next week, Part II of the series will bring us all the way to the present.Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by signing up for our newsletter at israelstory.org/newsletter/. For more, head to our site or Tablet Magazine. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

50mins

25 May 2016

Rank #4

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39: "Mixtape" Part IV – War, Peace and Bumper Stickers

In our season finale, we explore two songs that - perhaps more than any others - capture the complex and intermingled nature of Israeli society.Over the last four episodes, we’ve told the stories behind some of Israel’s most iconic songs. When we set off on this musical journey, we hoped to find a unicorn, a unifying island of Israeliness that escapes the usual polarization which dominates most conversations about Israel. Instead, however, 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.In today’s episode, the final installment of the Mixtape miniseries, we turn to Yitzhak Rabin’s 1995 assassination, and to two songs – one taking us decades back, the other catapulting us forward into the 21st century – that symbolize the messy multifariousness of Israeli society.Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by signing up for our newsletter at israelstory.org/newsletter/. For more, head to our site or Tablet Magazine. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

42mins

15 Jun 2018

Rank #5

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31: Dear Lord Rothschild

One hundred years after a single-page letter boosted the Zionist cause and changed the course of Jewish history, we go out in search of Balfour, and his declaration, in modern-day Israel.On November 2, 1917, Arthur James Balfour – Britain’s mustached Foreign Secretary – signed his name at the bottom of a short, typed letter addressed to a shy banker-turned-zoologist by the name of Lionel Walter Rothschild. “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” it read. In the century since that fateful day, those words have reverberated around the world. They’ve changed reality, creating national dreams on the one hand, and squashing political aspirations on the other. And, of course, they’ve been scrutinized, analyzed and debated from every possible angle. The Balfour Declaration, for better or worse, is still very much with us. In a special commemorative episode, we set out on a less-than-intuitive journey in Balfour’s footsteps.The original music in this episode was composed and performed by Ari Wenig, with additional scoring by Yochai Maital. The episode also includes tracks by the late Nachum Heiman. The final song, “Balfour“, is by Itay Pearl.Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by signing up for our newsletter at israelstory.org/newsletter/. For more, head to our site or Tablet Magazine. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

1hr 3mins

2 Nov 2017

Rank #6

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36: "Mixtape" Part I – Our Hope?

Welcome to 'Mixtape,' our very first mini-series. Over the course of the next four episodes, we will go on a musical journey through anthems, songs of yearning, of war, of peace, and hear the stories behind some of Israel's most iconic tunes.Let’s face it – when it comes to Israel, everything is complicated. Politics are complicated, religion is complicated, democracy is complicated, the conflict is complicated. Even our complications are complicated. These are the things that take us out to the street. That make us shout, and cry. That fill us with hope, and – just as often – plunge us into utter despair. But there is (seemingly) one island within Israeli society that escapes complexity, and brings us together more than it divides us: Israeli music. Or so, at least, we thought.In this special mini-series, we set out to explore Israeli society – warts, rifts and fuzzy togetherness alike – through the stories of some of the country’s most iconic tunes.The original music in this mini-series was composed, arranged and performed by the Mixtape Band, led by Ari Wenig and Dotan Moshanov, together with Ruth Danon, Eden Djamchid and Ronnie Wagner-Schmidt. The final song is a 1950s Tunisian rendition of HaTikvah sung by M. Cohen. The episode was recorded by Russell Castiglione and Josh Piel at the Dubway Studios in New York, and mixed by Sela Waisblum. It is based on Israel Story’s latest live show tour, “Mixtape.”Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by signing up for our newsletter at israelstory.org/newsletter/. For more, head to our site or Tablet Magazine. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

36mins

25 May 2018

Rank #7

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12: Now Boarding

For the year’s heaviest week of travel, Israel Story brings tales of love and interrogation at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion AirportThe first place travelers to Israel encounter is usually Ben Gurion Airport. What they’ll remember of that experience depends in part on their relationship to the country. Are they coming home? Arriving to a place they’ve always dreamed of visiting? Passing through, with fear or wariness, en route to someplace else?In this week’s episode of Israel Story, we hear from people who have had unforgettable encounters in or on their way to TLV. First, we meet Lily Sayegh, an Iraqi-born Israeli in her 80s who had a very unusual seatmate on a flight from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv. Next, we hear from a couple whose romantic fate was sealed by an Israeli security officer. And finally, we meet Victor Rodack who, in 1967, at age 14, was perhaps El Al’s very first stowaway.Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by signing up for our newsletter at israelstory.org/newsletter/. For more, head to our site or Tablet Magazine. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

50mins

30 Dec 2015

Rank #8

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17: Stop That Bus!

Israeli buses regularly make international headlines, be it for suicide bombings, fights over gender segregation or clashes concerning Shabbat schedules. On today’s episode of Israel Story, we delve into the world of lesser known bus-related conflicts.In Act I, “The White Elephant,” Yochai Maital walks us through the history of Tel Aviv’s ‘New’ Central Bus Station — a derelict eight-story behemoth and modern day Tower of Babel — which mirrors much of modern Israeli history, with its grand vision and messy implementation.Act II, “The Bus Driver Who Wanted To Be God,” is adapted from Etgar Keret’s short story collection of the same name, and performed by Keret himself. In it, we meet—yes—a bus driver whose deeply held belief in equity and fairness flies right smack in the face of Eddie, an assistant cook who has a problem getting places on time.Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by signing up for our newsletter at israelstory.org/newsletter/. For more, head to our site or Tablet Magazine. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

53mins

25 Mar 2016

Rank #9

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4: A Man on a Mission

The stories of three Israelis who are not religious but have pursued unusual hobbies with missionary zeal.In this, our fourth episode, we introduce three Israelis who are not religious but have pursued unusual hobbies with missionary zeal. One is a hitman-for-hire, another collects a highly specific classification of autographs, and the third is a professional whistler. This has earned them, variously, animus, accolades, and celebrity in far-flung places.Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by signing up for our newsletter at israelstory.org/newsletter/. For more, head to our site or Tablet Magazine. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

55mins

12 Dec 2014

Rank #10

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33: Milk, Honey and Sweet Mary Jane

Cannabis in the Holy Land is clearly a booming business. Through the unlikely story of Amos Silver, the Israeli 'Green Giant,' we take a deep dive into the world of Telegrass, the hot application that has made buying weed as easy as ordering a pizza.According to a recent study conducted by the Israeli Anti-Drug Authority, the Holy Land might as well be rebranded as a ‘Weedtopia.’ More than a quarter of adults aged 18 to 40 reported having used marijuana within the last month. This stat, says the Authority’s chief scientist Prof. Yossi Harel-Fisch, places Israel among the countries with the highest rate of pot smokers in the world. In this episode, we chugged along the Hudson Valley and – in Poughkeepsie, New York, of all places – met up with the one man who is most committed to making that number even higher.The original music in this episode was composed and performed by Ari Wenig, with help from Yochai Maital and Ruth Danon. Additional music by Boom Pam, Meir Ariel, Michael Swissa, Michael Greilsammer, and Kevin MacLeod. The episode was edited by Shai Satran with help from Julie Subrin.Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by signing up for our newsletter at israelstory.org/newsletter/. For more, head to our site or Tablet Magazine. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

50mins

2 Feb 2018

Rank #11

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18: Thicker Than Water

On Today’s show, we delve into the messy territory of family bonds—how they’re formed, challenged, and change over time. We’ll meet three families who are all, at the end of the day, happy, but are not (contrary to Tolstoy’s claim) in any way alike.First we hear from Mishy’s family—Dorothy, David, Danna and Oren—who like to talk to each other. A lot.In Act I, “The Missing Moms,” producer Shoshi Shmuluvitz introduces us to Tali Griffel, a thirty-six-year-old physical therapist from Jerusalem who has been searching for a stable maternal bond her entire life, ever since she lost not one, but two, mothers.In Act II, “The Radio Babe,” we tell the tale of a couple who won’t be able to hear their own story. Eli and Mira Kosover, both deaf, somehow managed to raise a radio producer, our very own Maya Kosover. Through conversations with her parents and her brother (who is hearing, like her), Maya brings us into the noisy world of her deaf upbringing. A transcript of the episode is available at israelstory.org.Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by signing up for our newsletter at israelstory.org/newsletter/. For more, head to our site or Tablet Magazine. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

59mins

18 Apr 2016

Rank #12

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24: Losing My Religion

From secret bathroom texting all the way to negotiating a divorce in Venice (of all places...), we bring you heart-wrenching tales of lost faith.In 1991, REM’s Michael Stipe famously sang, “That’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion, trying to keep up with you, and I don’t know if I can do it.” Just over a quarter-century later, we set out to explore what happens when religious couples no longer see eye to eye. Do you follow your heart? Do you tell your partner? And can the package stay intact, despite the tectonic shifts?The original music in this episode was composed and performed by Ruth Danon, Nili Fink, and Noam Sadan, who also covered songs by Vashti Bunyan and Ruth Dolores Weiss.This episode was mixed by Sela Waisblum, and recorded at Andrew Yeomanson’s City of Progress Studios. It was produced thanks to the generous support of the JCC Manhattan and the Natan Fund.Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by signing up for our newsletter at israelstory.org/newsletter/. For more, head to our site or Tablet Magazine. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

48mins

15 May 2017

Rank #13

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8: Rabin Is…

Rabin is a symbol. An icon. But in Israel of 2015, twenty years later, it isn't so simple to understand what he really stands for anymore.Who is Yitzhak Rabin today, twenty years after his murder? In this episode, we discover that for many Israelis, he represents completely different – and often conflicting – things: Rachel Rabin remembers her older brother as a shy kid, who forced her to be the goalie in neighborhood soccer games. His ‘fixer,’ Me’ir Palevsky, tells how a crude joke might have saved Rabin’s political career. Aliza Goren, the woman closest to the scene of the assassination, talks about standing in the operating room, looking at a dead prime minister. For Etgar Keret, Rabin is a cat, and maybe that’s not so strange, when we hear how others – filmmakers, educators and politicians – take Rabin’s legacy in all kinds of other – no less bizarre – directions. Lastly, Naomi Chazan reads the very last note she got from Rabin – a letter from the grave.Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by signing up for our newsletter at israelstory.org/newsletter/. For more, head to our site or Tablet Magazine. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

1hr 5mins

4 Nov 2015

Rank #14

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21: 68 and Counting- Part II

In the second installment of this two-part series (and our season two finale), we pick up where we left off last week: Presenting small stories – one per decade – that took place on Israel’s Independence Day, Yom Ha’Atzmaut, and that, in some way, reflect their era. Part I, took us from 1948 to 1978. In today’s episode, which begins in 1988 and brings us all the way to the present, we encounter a Soviet ‘refusenik’ celebrating his first Yom Ha’Atzmaut in Israel; an American couple building a new West Bank settlement; Batsheva Dance Company dancers caught up in a heated culture war over tank-tops and long-johns; a controversy surrounding a tilted flag; and the four Israeli finalists in this year’s International Youth Bible Competition.Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by signing up for our newsletter at israelstory.org/newsletter/. For more, head to our site or Tablet Magazine. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

48mins

31 May 2016

Rank #15

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30: Food Fight

Forget politics, forget territorial disputes, forget religion. Our new episode explores the real Middle Eastern battleground - food.Food, it turns out, is a serious business. And as we recently came to appreciate, it can lead folks to embark on all kinds of unlikely crusades. In today’s episode we tell two stories, from almost diametrically opposed perspectives, about the ways in which recognition and pride matter, especially when it comes to what we eat and drink. The first, about a Jerusalemite’s quirky liquid obsession, couldn’t be more local, whereas the second is an outsider’s take – the impressions of a visiting radio icon on her first trip to the region.The original music in “The Pitcher” was composed and performed by Ari Wenig. The final song, “Hummus Metamtem” (or “Hummus Makes You Stupid“), is by Yehoshua Sofer. The episode also features music by Yochai Maital, Kevin MacLeod, Bachar Mar-Khalife, Ibrahim Maalouf, Arthur Oskan and Hadag Nahash. It was mixed by Sela Waisblum.Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by signing up for our newsletter at israelstory.org/newsletter/. For more, head to our site or Tablet Magazine. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

46mins

4 Oct 2017

Rank #16

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34: Coming Out, Getting In

Payam Feili is a gay Iranian poet. Nadav Schwartz is an Orthodox Israeli Jew. But in ways both astoundingly similar and utterly different, both men have journeyed out of their communities, leaving behind almost everything but their identity.Tonight, Jews around the world will gather together at their seder tables. They will drink wine, ask questions, search for the Afikoman and recite the obligation to see themselves as if they personally had come out of Egypt. And that is, really, what the seder is all about – the telling and retelling of the greatest Jewish “coming out” story of all time. A story of venturing out into the unknown, of wandering in physical and metaphorical deserts and of seeking refuge in a new home.The original music in this episode was composed and performed by Ari Wenig, with help from Yochai Maital. The final song, Avarnu et Par’o (‘We Overcame Pharaoh’), is by Meir Ariel.Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by signing up for our newsletter at israelstory.org/newsletter/. For more, head to our site or Tablet Magazine. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

1hr 4mins

30 Mar 2018

Rank #17

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29: A Better Place?

Not that long ago, an Israeli vehicle was about to change the world. But it didn’t. In today's episode, we find out why the Better Place electric car generated such excitement and inspired such devotion, and why its ultimate demise was so devastating.In 2007, long before Tesla and Elon Musk became household names, a thirty-nine-year-old Israeli tech entrepreneur by the name of Shai Agassi came out with an announcement that rattled the world: He was going to revolutionize transportation, make countries oil-free by 2020, and curb the effects of climate change. Agassi hoped to put millions and millions of drivers, all around the globe, behind the wheel of an inexpensive electric car, with virtually unlimited range. And that, he told anyone who would listen, was going to make the world a “Better Place.”The music in this episode includes original tracks composed and performed by David Peretz, as well as music by Blue Dot Sessions, Jason Shaw and Audionautix, Kevin MacLeod and Royal Free Sound, Bird Creek, Twin Musicom, Chris Zabriskie and Bensound. The final song, “Mechonit,” is by Mashina. The episode was edited by Julie Subrin and mixed by Sela Waisblum.Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by signing up for our newsletter at israelstory.org/newsletter/. For more, head to our site or Tablet Magazine. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

49mins

8 Sep 2017

Rank #18

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7: Out of Africa… And Back Again

Two journeys - in very different directions, and taken for very different reasons - out of, and then into, Africa.Israel is embroiled in Middle Eastern geopolitics. That, at least, everyone knows. We also aspire to be part of Europe, and never miss a chance to reiterate our “special relationship” with the US. But what about Africa, our next door neighbors? Our history stretches all the way back to the earliest hominids leaving Africa and marching through what is today Israel. Since then there’s been an endless stream of people crisscrossing between the two regions. And on today’s show, we bring you the stories of two of them: Journeying in very different directions, and for very different reasons, out of – and then into – Africa.Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by signing up for our newsletter at israelstory.org/newsletter/. For more, head to our site or Tablet Magazine. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

44mins

20 Oct 2015

Rank #19

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5: Holy Cow!

An episode all about sacred bovines!The stories of four featured moo-ers: a red heifer that some think will bring the messiah, a cow that’s become the symbol of radical Israeli veganism, buffalos that hold the future for a self-described “Israeli redneck,” and the golden calf that was biblical big-business.Cowabunga!Stay connected with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and by signing up for our newsletter at israelstory.org/newsletter/. For more, head to our site or Tablet Magazine. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.

1hr 2mins

12 Jan 2015

Rank #20