HomeJULY 2024David Broza

David Broza

A perpetual force in motion, bridging continents with his music and his unwavering passion
for both cultures he calls home.

In December last year, amidst the peak of the “Iron Blades” war, Israeli communities across the United States endeavored to comprehend the unfathomable trauma of October 7th, alongside their efforts to support the embattled state of Israel. Amidst the deep sorrow and concern of the diaspora Jews, frustration from their distant lives in the land they cherish also joined in.
   So, at the height of spontaneity, David Broza arrived to encourage and embrace. He volunteered to perform at the Adat Ariel Congregation Synagogue in Los Angeles. Broza, with his iconic guitar and a repertoire of Israeli classics such as “Sigahliot,” “The Woman by My Side,” “Under the Skies,” and “Yehiye Tov” united a diverse audience of all ages who gathered primarily to be together and share moments of escape into the Israeli music they love so much.
    At 68, David Broza is a dynamo, effortlessly blending a life split between New York City with his wife, the renowned fashion designer Nili Lotan, and his cherished homeland of Israel, where he spends a substantial chunk of every month. When he’s not in transit, Broza’s on stage, a fixture in cities like Arizona, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Toronto. For more than three decades, he’s made his mark with an annual Christmas concert in New York City, a tradition that’s become synonymous with his name. David Broza: a perpetual force in motion, bridging continents with his music and his unwavering passion for both cultures he calls home.

Elad: David, how do you love life in New York?
“I’ve lived in New York before; I left in 1999 and moved to Spain. Five years later, I returned to live back home. I love Nili; she’s everything to me. She’s the reason I moved back to New York; if she lived in another city, that’s where I’d be. When my relationship with Nili began, it was clear she couldn’t relocate her business to Tel Aviv, but I could take my guitar and make trips to Israel to continue and promote things. So that’s how it worked out. Listen, New York isn’t a terrible place to live in. It’s one of the most stimulating cities in the world. There’s a huge scene of wonderful musicians and lots of young American Israelis; graduates of Rimon, New School, or Berklee who come here and start their careers. In recent years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Omer Avital – one of the most talented jazz contrabass players in the world. He introduced me to a young generation of amazing high-level  musicians—aged 28-29—and they all live here in New York. We play together and have also done some jazz projects, a field I haven’t touched in years. We made the album TFILA, which includes music for 14 Friday night prayers. As a secular person, I thought I was the least suitable for this project, but they insisted, and we really made a wonderful album that is also accompanied by live performances.”
    Broza paints a vivid picture of his life in the Big Apple, where personal connections and musical collaborations thrive amidst the city’s vibrant cultural tapestry.
Elad: In recent months, we’ve been witnessing a wave of anti-Semitism and protests on university campuses in New York and Los Angeles. How are you experiencing this period there?
David: “I’ve encountered anti-Israel sentiments firsthand during one of my performances. The entire crew decided they didn’t want to be there because I’m Israeli or associated with Israel, and they all walked out, leading to the cancellation of the show. There are plenty of such examples: concert venues canceling appearances for artists like Matisyahu because they didn’t want to take a risk. They attempted to cancel gigs for Yisrael Ribo as well, but didn’t succeed because David  Azulay (owner of the production company Teev) is a crazy fighter and found replacements. I hope I won’t encounter such incidents in the upcoming tour.
    You see, it’s not new for a 19-year-old student to demonstrate an anarchist attitude. The problem lies with those professors at universities who guide students, fuel the fire, and essentially manipulate them to try and carry out revolutions according to their own beliefs. These lecturers know well that such revolutions won’t hold up even for ten minutes with Hamas. Hamas’s goal is to annihilate Jews worldwide.
    I just pray the captives will return home and this turmoil will end. Then you’ll see these protests will stop too, and they’ll move on to protest other issues like climate or government.
Elad: Where were you during the October 7th terror events?
David: “In Israel, alone. Nili was in New York. Before October 7th, we embarked on a special tour across Israel to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the album ‘The Woman by My Side.’ I typically don’t celebrate albums, but this time we decided to do something unique. We scheduled 40 shows all over the country, and then extended to 50 and 60—it was historic. Later on, we decided to perform in more personal and intimate settings, even reaching small bars nationwide, playing in front of crowds as small as 100 people to give everyone a chance to be part of it.
    The night after a show, at six-thirty in the morning, I heard the siren and immediately turned on the TV to see what was happening. I left it on all day, but at midnight, I turned it off for good and haven’t turned it back on since. I decided I was going into action. I started visiting all the residents affected in Ashdod and all the kibbutzim, knowing I wanted to come to them clean. Before the performances, I always approach the audience and talk with them, hear their stories and everything they’ve been through. I want to get the real information from them, not something condensed from the news. I connect with the audience and then go on stage to entertain them and bond through music. We’ve already done 150 shows across the country and the northern border, and we’ll continue to do more.”
Elad: In 1982, you released the album “Klaff” amidst the Lebanon War, which disrupted its tour. You were conscripted to perform for soldiers on the front lines. Do current events bring you back to that time?
“Flashbacks from what I experienced in ‘82 came back during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. That’s when I truly understood what happened to me in the first Lebanon War. Everything burst out, I experienced shell shock firsthand, feeling like my chest was about to explode like a stone when the first Katyusha hit. Since the beginning of the current war, I’ve been returning and still go to the northern border and all the kibbutzim. Hezbollah primarily launches rockets to instill fear and prevent a sense of security in the northern region. In the end, they’ll lose. We are a tribe of brothers who settled in this land to build our home, protect ourselves, and be strong. True, many mistakes have been made along the way, and there’s much to bridge and rectify socially. But I love Israeli society; alongside all the hardships, it has profound and immense beauty.”
Elad: How do you think the October 7th events and the war will impact Israeli music?
David: “The impact has already begun. There are numerous songs in the country about the friend who didn’t return and the difficult period we’re going through. Every artist is grappling with this. It’s going to be a very nationalistic period; we’re already seeing songs like ‘Am Israel Chai’ by Eyal Golan, realizing this is what needs to be heard over the airwaves. I think the impact will be even deeper than the Yom Kippur War because this time these events have touched every corner of Israeli society. It’s unbelievable that we’ve been at war for seven months already. There’s never been anything like it. Yom Kippur War lasted a month, and the longer War of Attrition lasted a few months before it ended. In this current war, we can’t even see the end.”
Elad: An Israeli artist you particularly love:
David: “I miss Yonatan (Geffen) every day! He used to say we were like the biblical duo of David and Jonathan. We were truly inseparable for 46 years without interruption or a break. Those were really full lives because I was a young man when we first met, just 22. There’s the whole period of the Six-Day War and many songs built around my familiarity with him. Yonatan’s sudden death was shocking: we met a few days before he passed away while I was abroad, and we corresponded on Thursday, but by Friday he was gone. It was a complete surprise for me because there were still so many things I planned to do with him.
    I miss our despairing conversations so much— he was always so despondent about the situation in the country and life, while I was more optimistic. But I didn’t experience what he did in life; I had different experiences from his, and he appreciated the differences between us. Just hearing his voice would calm me, do me good, and propel me forward.“
Elad: One moment in your songs that you particularly love?
David: “The moment happens every time I sing ‘Yehiye Tov.’ It’s a song that never fails to uplift and deeply move everyone wherever I perform it. Structurally, ‘Yehiye Tov’ is a major-key song, not a minor one, so it uplifts the atmosphere but in a gentle way. The audience always connects deeply with it and gets emotional. Now more than ever, we truly hope ‘Yehiye Tov’ will be good.”

Elad Massuri is a contributing writer to jlife Magazine.



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