Hadag Nahash, Jewish Music Festival Bring Out Oakland's Jewish Community

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The Jewish Music Festival presented Hadag Nahash, a popular Israeli hip-hop/funk band, at Oakland's New Parish last night. Their signature catchy songs ignited the entire club, driven by the band's versatile keyboards and horn section, and a pair of turntables too. The show kicked off the opening weekend of the Jewish Music Festival, which will feature concerts around the Bay Area through March 25.

The audience at tonight's show was a map of the Bay Area's diverse Jewish community. Several organizations were represented, many having contributed to the show's marketing efforts. The range of ages was impressive, from young adults to the elderly, all of whom enthusiastically danced the entire time. A number of the Jewish Music Festival's older donors were present, a testament both to the festival's wide range of programming, and to Hadag Nahash's universal appeal.

The show itself was full of non-stop energy, and the singers were deeply connected to their material. Shaa'nan Streett, the lead MC, said that a lot of Hadag Nahash's songs are about life in Israel, but he added that a couple are more personal. Ultimately, though most of the songs were in Hebrew, it was still possible to understand their meaning through the band's sheer passion and fervor.

The set was spotted with popular songs, mostly older ones, to which the audience enthusiastically sang along. Most of the songs, however, just inspired spirited dancing. Hadag Nahash seemed genuinely thrilled to be back in the East Bay, and their energy completely filled the New Parish's two-level space.

One highlight was a pre-show party for local young adults, a collaboration between the Jewish Federation's East Bay Jews group and Berkeley Hillel's CalGrads. The packed party offered discounted tickets for the main event, to encourage the attendance of younger community members, and it was also a reunion of sorts. CalGrads coordinator Eric Samuels said that he was excited about the new partnership between the two organizations, and that he expected to see similar events in the future.

The Jewish Music Festival continues with concerts this weekend and throughout the month of March, at a variety of venues around the Bay Area. Details can be found at www.jewishmusicfestival.org.  

EBAC thanks the Jewish Music Festival, CalGrads, and East Bay Jews for access to the event.

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