“Moshav,” the internationally acclaimed American/Israeli group, began when Yehuda Solomon (vocals, percussion) and Duvid Swirsky (vocals, guitar) met as youngsters growing up four doors apart on the Moshav Mevo Modiin. The religious communal settlement in central Israel was founded by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and attracted a group of eclectic individuals, including Solomon’s and Swirsky’s parents.
“My parents were living in a hippie commune in northern California and they moved to the Moshav and never left,” said Solomon, who is in his late 30’s and lives in Los Angeles with his wife and three young children.
Swirsky arrived at the Moshav on Shabbat when he was ten years old. “I remember Shlomo as a Santa Claus-like character,” he said. “Everybody danced and sang, banging and screaming and jumping up and down. It was a very accepting and comfortable environment.”
“A lot of us kids from the Moshav are singers, spread out all over the world. We run into a lot of them when we travel,” Swirsky added. He also lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two-year-old son Lev (“heart” in Hebrew).
The duo was singing at the Moshav when they were discovered by some American students traveling in Israel who heard their band play and raised money to bring them to the United States to play for a college tour in the 1990’s. “Moshav” was born and relocated to Los Angeles, where they recorded their first album in 1998.
“Shabbat Vol. 1, released in November 2014, pays homage to the many Sabbaths they spent with their beloved Reb Shlomo in the small synagogue packed with family and friends dancing late into Friday nights. “This record brings us back to our childhood,” said Solomon.
The 15 tracks include original, traditional, and Carlebach compositions that the two recorded at their home studio in Los Angeles. “We tried to give it a raw vibe, like we’re all just hanging out again and jamming on the Moshav,” said Solomon.
“This record feels like home,” said Swirsky. “Shabbat is music. Shabbat is roots. Shabbat is open. Shabbat is no judgment.”
Among the songs are “Lecha Dodi,” “Adon Olam” and “Havdallah.” With its mixture of reggae, middle-eastern and traditional styles, and instruments that include bouzouki, banjo, cello, trumpet and oud, the album is an exciting and refreshing way to celebrate Shabbat. “It shows all our colors,” said Solomon.
Standout tracks are a meditative “V’shamru” with its overlay of cellos, the lively reggae-middle eastern styled “Boi Beshalom,” and the catchy, folksy “Shiru.”
“We try to make music that we really love and connect to. We draw from our Jewish roots and heritage, but hopefully the result is universal, something that also sounds really interesting and cool to someone who isn’t Jewish,” Solomon said.