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Christian and Jewish organizations record song together to raise awareness of anti-Semitism

Passages, StandWithUs brings together artists across three nations in first Hebrew-English collaboration on popular worship song, The Blessing

Screenshot of “The Blessing Israel” by Passages and StandWithUs

“The Blessing” – a popular worship song based on the Aaronic blessing in Numbers 6 – has become a source of inspiration and encouragement during the COVID pandemic with singers from churches, cities and even entire continents, recording themselves singing portions of the song in their own languages, then assembling the performances together in a full video.

The effect is nothing short of moving. 

For the first time, Israeli stars joined American and African recording artists to sing “The Blessing” together in an effort to raise awareness of increasing anti-Semitism. 

Israeli media compared “The Blessing Israel” to “We are the World,” a song from the 1980s that featured the world's top artists singing together for a greater cause. 

“I believe that music has the power to transcend the boundaries of our cultures and speak to the hearts of each and every person who hears it,” said Scott Phillips, executive director of Passages. “Our prayer at Passages is that this project can raise awareness of the threat of anti-Semitism and strengthen the ties between Christians and Jews, and promote a deeper understanding of both biblical and modern Israel.” 

“The Blessing Israel” was released by Passages, an organization that brings American Christian students to Israel, in collaboration with StandWithUs, a non-partisan Israel education and advocacy organization. 

With Grammy-winning American artists joined by some of the biggest names in Israeli music, the artists recorded the song in their native languages, either Hebrew or English. From the U.S., multiple Grammy-winning and Country Music Hall of Famer Ricky Skaggs and Grammy award-winning gospel singer Jacky Clark-Chisholm joined some Israeli stars including Avraham Tal, Dudu Aharon, Narkis, Eden Meiri and Gali Atari plus African singers Rahel Getu, T.Y. Bello, and Mynah Rams. Passages students provided background vocals.

“The Blessing,” originally released in 2020 by Christian singer/songwriter Kari Jobe in partnership with Elevation, has since been recorded into dozens of cover versions by various artists and churches worldwide in many languages. 

While a version of the song has been recorded in Hebrew by Israeli artist Joshua Aaron, this is the first collaboration that involves Hebrew and English together.

"This is such a vital project, a project of love, unity and solidarity, especially at this time of division and difficulty for so many,” said Rivka Kidron, co-founder of Passages and a member of its Board of Directors. “As Jews face so many threats from anti-Semitism around the world, it is extremely comforting to witness our Christian brothers and sisters raising the issue and demonstrating that they stand by the side of the Jewish people and Israel.”

The project was the brainchild of Daniel Berkove, an Israeli businessman originally from the U.S.

“In its essence, the video, which for me has been a very personal project, is about unity, celebrating the values we share rather than focusing on what keeps us apart,” Berkove said. “I'm an observant Jew from a family of kohanim (priests) who recites the Priestly Blessing daily. Having grown up and attended public school and university in suburban Detroit, I now live in Israel and work across Africa. The themes in the video very much reflect my own experiences and beliefs, and I'm grateful to Passages for supporting this project and enabling me to realize it.”

The artists who participated were moved by the collaboration across nations and religions. 

“Israel can put out many videos about anti-Semitism, but I believe that music can bring together and unite,” said Dudu Aharon, who described how shocked he is to see intense security at synagogues in the U.S. and Europe, and his fear about wearing a kippa openly when he is there.

“There are differences in the world, but at the end of the day, the key is to get along together,” Avraham Tal said, describing how he first encountered anti-Semitism when he visited his grandparents in Marseille and was called a “dirty Jew.”

“I am delighted to take part in this exciting project. For me, it is the beginning of unity, love and fraternity between us all,” Israeli singer Narkis said.

“I’ve watched the video twice and I love it. It’s beautiful in every way,” said Skaggs. “Just to see the smiles on the faces of the artists pouring their hearts out in song is so wonderful.”

Though the song was written by Christians, it is based on the birkat hakohanim, the priestly blessing said by Jews: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

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