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Former Winnipegger Cheryl Hechter and Doron Raphael by the Barbra Streisand sign at gate to Bloomfield Stadium
Photo courtesy of Cheryl Hechter


by Rhonda Spivak, Tel-Aviv, June 23, 2013

If there is one  thing I will remember for the rest of my life it is Barbara Streisand singing an emotion filled rendition of  Hatikvah near the end of her concert  in the Bloomfield Stadium in Jaffa, on a gorgeous night with a full moon in the background.
It was a moment to remember. All 16,000 people sang the anthem with her passionately.

The concert itself was only Streisand's 100th live concert performance in her entire career. Streisand has only performed live 100 times because, as she told her audience during a performance she had which so happened to be during the Six Day war in 1967, she forgot some of the words to one of the songs she was singing while on stage and as a result she was too frightened to perform and didn't perform for 27 years.  Streisand who is now 71 (although she doesn't look it) has gotten over this fear by using a teleprompter.  



Seeing Streisand perform in Israel was very special as she spoke about coming back to the place of her heritage, and roots, and performing before family, which made the concert so special.

Near the opening of the concert, she looked over to the audience members on her far left and far right, and  then said, had she known there would have been so many people sitting on either side of her ,she "would have gotten her nose done."  It was a funny remark and made the crowd feel instantaneously comfortable.
Streisand was invited to Israel this time by Israeli President Shimon Peres who celebrated his 90th birthday in Jerusalem on June 18th. At Peres's birthday bash, Streisand performed the ancient Hebrew prayer Avinu Malcheinu.
A very moving moment in the concert occurred when Streisand talked about when she was in Israel 30 years ago she planted trees in honor of her father Emanuel and on this visit she went back to the site and saw how the trees had grown. She spoke of the passage of time and the planting of trees knowing that one will not be alive necessarily “to sit under their shade," but we plant "for generations to come".  The theme of planting trees was one that resonated with an Israeli audience and Streisand then invited her 60- piece orchestra as well as the Tel Aviv Chamber Choir and special guests to join her for a resounding performance of “Make Our Garden Grow,” leaving the crowd on its feet.

During the show she spoke of her grandfather who had a good singing voice--he wasn't a cantor but “he sang a lot in shul" and she played an audio of her mother Diana singing, with a screen that had old photos of her mother, to demonstrate to the audience that her mother had a very good voice. "You see ma, you made it to Bloomfield Stadium in Tel-Aviv," Streisand quipped, noting that her mother would have been very proud to perform in Tel-Aviv.

To see the legendary Streisand perform with her son Jason Gould (whose father is actor Elliot Gould), for a touching duet of “How Deep is the Ocean,” was also very special. Streisand also showed the video that Jason, age 46, had made for her 70th birthday, filled with photos of he and her together over the course of his childhood and adult life. The video made the show feel all the more intimate and personal. (Jason Gould by the way also has a beautiful voice). Later in the show Streisand invited her sister Roslyn Kind, also an accomplished singer, to join her on stage for a sublime duet of “Smile.”
Streisand also answered a few questions written on cards by audience members beforehand.

One of the questions which had the crowd laughing was whether she liked salty or sweet kugel. She answered "sweet with raisins" but not too many. Later as she was eating a cookie in between numbers she remarked "Oh this tastes like a ...Passover cookie."

Another question Streisand responded to was whether she was sorry she had missed the Tel-Aviv gay pride event on June 7. Streisand quipped that judging by whom she saw in the crowd "I think quite a few of you have made it to the concert tonight."

During her trip to Israel, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem conferred an honourary doctorate in philosophy on Streisand, in recognition of her professional achievements, humanitarianism, leadership in the realm of human and civil rights, and dedication to Israel and the Jewish people. In her comments after receiving the award, Streisand said, "For close to 30 years, I've had a deep connection to the Hebrew University. It's not only home to a diverse population of some of Israel's best and brightest students, but it also houses the Emanuel Streisand Building for Jewish Studies."

In 1984 Streisand established the Emanuel Streisand Building in memory of her father, whom she praised at the time as “a teacher, scholar and religious man who devoted himself to education.”

"One of the things I've always admired about this [Hebrew] University is the fact that here, women and men, Jews and Arabs, Christians and Muslims, native-born and immigrants, sit together in classes, share the same cafeterias, learn from the same professors, and dream together of a good and meaningful life," Streisand said. "I wish the world were more like the hallways of the Hebrew University," she added.

One of the questions asked by an audience member at her concert was how she ought to be referred to now that she was a Doctor.  Streisand answered "Just say what's up Doc?"

Streisand spoke about her father before launching into “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” from the film Yentl.

She gave an emotional rendition of “The Way We Were,” which she dedicated to the late composer Marvin Hamlisch, also accompanied by a selection of  old photos of she and he together.

When she sang the classic “People” the audience was on its feet applauding and cheering. She showed her vocal range with favorites such as “What’ll I Do,” “Lost Inside of You” and “Evergreen.” She even sang "Where are the Clowns", a number she hasn't sung for a long time. 

She performed “Don’t Rain on My Parade” in diva style, with energy, drama and flair.

The crowd loved it all from start to finish.

This was her last concert on a tour that took her to London, Amsterdam, Cologne and Berlin, Germany and Tel-Aviv. (It was her first time performing in Amsterdam, Germany and Israel). She gave two concerts in Tel-Aviv.

Chances are she won't be performing in Israel again, which is why it was an amazing experience to witness her second concert in Tel-Aviv.




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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.