Check out another hot track by Behn-Shakhar Ben-Israel (20), aka “Ben Blackwell”. Behn has always been unique. Growing up in Arad and living in Tiberias, one would assume he is just like many other ordinary Israelis. He observes the Sabbath and holidays, speaks Hebrew, and observes a Kosher vegan diet. He also plans to serve in the IDF. However, Behn comes from a very unique world adding to the increasingly diverse fabric that makes up Israeli society.
Behn is a part of the “African Hebrew Israelites,” a community of African-Americans based in Chicago who believe they are descended from ancient Israelites who fled to Africa and later were taken to America as slaves. In 1969 they came to southern Israel on the heels of a prophecy to establish the Kingdom of God in what they believe is “the land of their origin.” There are now roughly 2,000 of them living communal, vegan lifestyles in what Blackwell repeatedly describes as “the land of milk and honey.”
Shemspeed is an independent recording label and promotional agency highlighting cross-over music artists with positive and unifying messages. Founded by Erez Safar, an American-Israeli DJ/Producer, Shemspeed promotes over 15 dynamic artists representing a wide range of genres including hip-hop, reggae, and rock. These artists include Y-Love (revolutionary Jewish hip-hop), Diwon (Yemenite / Sephardic hip-hop, Israeli music and more), DeScribe (soul-awakening dancehall, hip-hop, & soul), and Electro Morocco (Israeli rock, dance music.) Shemspeed artists, collectively showcasing the diversity in world Jewish music, have performed with musicians as varied as Snoop Dogg, Lou Reed, Idan Raichel and Eminem; they’ve been profiled in Rolling Stone, SPIN, The New York Times and XXL; and they’ve been seen and heard around the world on various TV appearances (Conan O’Brien, CBS and BBC World) and global radio. Shemspeed’s mission is unifying people through culture and education, celebrating diversity and common ground. By way of this work, we add a public Jewish voice to multi-cultural, inter-faith, creative and collaborative bridge-building.