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Messianic Jewish and Arab young people unite in new worship album

A new worship album coming out of Jerusalem with songs in both Arabic and Hebrew represents a move beyond reconciliation to true unity while also reflecting a significant increase in homegrown worship leaders across Israel.

The Voice of One Calling features young people from Jewish and Arab backgrounds who are worship leaders and song writers and have a desire to bring greater unity through their music.

The album, produced by Tal-Bethany Rosenfeld, was inspired by the dynamic of combined Hebrew-Arabic worship at Succat Hallel’s annual conference for young Israelis and Palestinians.

“The album is very much a call to this generation in Israel to seek the Lord and to prepare the way for the coming King,” Rosenfeld told KNI. “This is a generation now that is proclaiming together, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord!’”

The songs on the album are a mix of classics and original pieces and are sung in both Hebrew and Arabic. Worship leaders and song writers featured include a teenage Arab girl from Nazareth and a young Israeli who just completed his army service — not your usual juxtaposition in Israel.

“It’s definitely moved beyond reconciliation at our conferences,” said Rick Ridings who, together with his wife Patti, founded Succat Hallel, a 24/7 worship and prayer center in Jerusalem. “There’s more continuing relationship between Jewish and Arabic young people.”

Ridings said the vision for the album dates back to a conference called Elav (To Him) that gathered young people from around the country for several days of worship and consecration to God.

“As we had more and more Arabic and Hebrew worship, there began to be a desire to have a time of blended worship where we go back and forth between Hebrew and Arabic,” Ridings said. “There was such a response — it hit a chord in people’s hearts about really being together in a deeper sense. So after that came to the vision to do a CD, which would also be blended.”

Rosenfeld, who spearheaded the project, said that in addition to emphasizing the Hebrew and Arabic together, the album represents the generations uniting as they sing “classic” Jewish songs and some written by the pioneers of Messianic worship mixed with songs from this new crop of musicians.

Indeed, Succat Hallel has been instrumental in raising up a new generation of worship leaders. Children who once attended youth-led worship watches at Succat Hallel have grown up to lead worship at their congregations and other venues around the country.

The Voice of One Calling was recorded near Succat Hallel at a studio in Jerusalem’s Hinnom Valley — the very place where child sacrifices to Molech once took place.

The recording process itself was a testimony. The staff at this studio, run by the municipality of Jerusalem, asked each of the musicians how they started believing in Yeshua. The technician, a religious Jew, and all the secular and religious workers at the studio were intrigued by the project and were “blown away that all these Jews, all these Arabs and all these foreigners were working together,” Rosenfeld said. 

“We were worshipping energetically during the recording as if it was a live recording,” she said. 

Rosenfeld said her desire, as she works with these young song writers and musicians, is twofold.

“One is to encourage young song writers and worship leaders to come up with new fresh songs in indigenous styles, and to connect with the music of their culture,” she said. “The other part of the vision is reconciliation, for young Jews and Arabs to join together in prayer for their people and to cry out with one voice for Yeshua’s return.”

Rosenfeld runs an annual worship camp to train up-and-coming musicians from across the land, giving them practical experience in worship leading, prayer leading and song writing. They learn by doing it themselves, she said.

“We just equip, train and encourage, but they lead the prayer and worship times themselves,” she said. “The camps are a place where they can develop their gift.”

The worship leaders and song writers from The Voice of One Calling are now young adults who are teaching and training the youth at the camps.

One girl said that before she got to the camp, she felt her Bible reading was dry. “Now I can’t put my Bible down,” she said.

The worship camp this year trained some 100 young musicians from Israeli and Palestinian communities with teachers in both Arabic and Hebrew. Song writers, even younger than the ones recorded on The Voice of One Calling, have emerged from this camp and their songs are being recorded now.

Rosenfeld runs the camps under of the auspices of Dor Haba (The Next Generation), an entity within Succat Hallel that, according to the website, aims to “encourage young worshippers, song writers, prayer warriors, and musicians from all over Israel, both Jewish and Arab.” The logo for Dor Haba symbolically shows one hand reaching down to another.

“It’s a chain relationship where we give to the next generation, whether we are 80 or 40 or 16 we are giving to the next generation: intergenerational encouragement,” Rosenfeld explained. “God sees beauty in the generations working together.”

The music on The Voice of One Calling is considered Mizrachi pop, or modern Middle Eastern music. The album can be purchased at Messianic and Christian bookstores around Israel or online on the Dor Haba website or on iTunes and Spotify.

A second album is already in the works.

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N.J. Schiavi is news editor of KNI.

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