In early 2017 Or Teicher, a secular Israeli producer, saw that clip and wondered if he could bring together ordinary Israelis, strangers to each other, and get them to sing together with some sort of fervor. So he tried. He collected some talented people around him, they collected 400 people in Tel Aviv, and on April 15th 2017 they sung together. Here, watch them:
On September 7th 2017, as the Jewish High Holidays approached, they collected 600 people in Jerusalem. Their technique was getting better, and it was a smashing success:
On December 17th 2017 they gathered 600 mostly secular Israelis in Tel Aviv and sang about believing, in English. Another roaring success.
There's logistics in there, and organizational ability on multiple levels. There's musical creativity in spades. The cameras turn a crowd into a sea of identifiable and fascinating people with faces. And of course, there's that astonishingly charismatic young man with the dreadlocks who pulls everyone into a seamless many-layered choir in a single hour, even as most of them have never previously sung a single chord with the others. So they upped their ante. On Jan. 1st 2018, they organized 2,000 people in a gigantic tent in Tel Aviv, and proved the model worked with larger numbers, too.
On February 14th 2018 they pulled together 3,000 people in Haifa, and sang Matisyahu's One Day in three languages, Arabic English and Hebrew. If you haven't been paying attention, concentrate on the faces, their diversity, and of course, their intensity:
Later that week was International Women's Day, so they had an event by and for women only, 2,000 of them. The endlessly energetic Ben Yeffet, not being a woman, wasn't there. They all had a great time.
They have no website, if you're wondering, and no swanky marketing operation. They're propelled by the excitement they're generating, as ever broader swathes of Israeli society take notice of this new cultural phenomenon sprouting among us; they announce their next events on a Facebook page.
On April 2nd 2018 they tried something new, with 7,500 people singing simultaneously in five different cities: Jerusalem, Ashkelon, Dimona, Rishon Lezion, and Kiryat Motzkin. The genius was adding Kiryat Motzkin, a scruffy town no-one has ever even heard of unless they live there; it turns out the locals know how to sing as well as everyone else.
Then they turned deeply serious. For Yom Hashoah in April 2018 they collected dozens of Holocaust survivors and three generations of their descendants, and together they prayed Ofra Haza's song I'm Alive. If you can watch this one without being moved to tears, you're a lost case.
This week (April 16th 2018) they unveiled their largest event so far: 12,000 people, joined by Israel's President Reuven Rivlin, singing Naomi Shemer's immortal paean to the beauty and wonder of this flawed land we live in. If this isn't a new form of mass devotion, I don't know what might be.