Israel National News: Rapping English to Israeli Kids – For a Better Future

by David Lev

An innovative program in Ma’aleh Adumim aims to help Israeli teens master English – for a more successful future.


About half of Israel’s high school students fail English, says Ma’aleh Adumim teacher Galia Cohen – despite starting to learn ithe language in the third grade in Israeli schools — and that has tremendously damaging implications for their future.


“Every university, college, and even certificate program requires a high level of English, and any professional who wants to become a part of their international professional community and keep track of developments does so in English. So many people in Israel are held back because of a lack of English.”


To alleviate the problem, Cohen started an afterschool English skills enhancement program in Ma’aleh Adumim and surrounding towns. For the past 10 years, A.H.A.V.A has been running programs that have ensured that many youngsters who were in danger of falling behind were able to keep up with their English studies, and even thrive.


One feature of A.H.A.V.A’s program has been an annual Read-a-thon – a month-long campaign that has kids reading ten or even more books, in order to raise funds for the program. This year’s Read-a-thon kicks off this coming Thursday – and newly-arrived in Israel British rapper “Antithesis” will be performing to help get kids interested in the Read-a-thon and in A.H.A.V.A’s program.


Antithesis, who now lives in Tel Aviv, calls himself the “Zionist Rapper,” and has written songs on Israel’s survival, kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, missing airman Ron Arad, and other Jewish and Israeli subjects. He has sold thousands of recordings, and has performed in many venues in the UK, as well as in as well as in Israel, Argentina and the US. He also hosted Britain’s first Israeli music radio program, Kol Cambridge, which was nominated for a BBC Student Radio Award. The name, his website says, was given to him by a friend, who termed him the antithesis of a stereotypical rapper.


“Ostensibly, the Read-a-thon is supposed to raise money, but its real purpose is to get kids to read more,” says Cohen. “The contest aspect of the Read-a-thon – with kids racing to read more and raise more money – does wonders for their reading level. Studies show that when kids read at least 10 books in a short period, such as a month, their reading level goes up by a year. I can see from the books they read at the beginning of the Read-a-thon, as compared to the books they are reading at the end, just how much progess they have made.”


Antithesis agrees with Cohen on the importance of developing English skills, and was happy to lend his talents to promoting the after school program and the Read-a-thon, says Cohen, adding “maybe I can get him to write a rap on the importance of reading.”


Antithesis Interview on Tel Aviv Local News

In September, I was interviewed for the Tel Aviv and Gush Dan regional news bulletin. It was my first live interview in Hebrew so I was a little nervous but I managed to get through it ok without too many horrendous errors. For those who don’t speak Hebrew (or who can’t understand my accent), there are English subtitles which give a rough idea of the conversation. What you can’t hear is the entire crew roaring with laughter when I answered the final question!

Big thanks to the IBA TV journalist for securing the footage!


Why ‘geek’ Samuel Put His Pride on Show in First Video – Jewish Telegraph

ZIONIST rapper Antithesis is just that: the antithesis of the rapper stereotype.

Antithesis AKA Samuel Green read Oriental studies at Trinity College, Cambridge. He currently works for an acclaimed marketing company in Switzerland by day and has, on occasion, led services at Kingston, Surbiton & District Synagogue.

So in recent years he has grown accustomed to surprised reactions when he tells people about his musical endeavours.

“Anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t come across as a typical rapper but that is where my name comes from,” explained Samuel, who has just released his first music video.

The 27-year-old added: “People tend to be shocked, particularly with the genre of music that I am involved in.

“But I enjoy having two very different aspects to my life – it makes it more interesting.”

Samuel, whose grandfather is from Broughton Park, Salford, released his debut music video which features the title track from his third EP, Proud to be a Zionist.

And the MC explained that he wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of his loyal fans.

He said: “I’ve always wanted to shoot a video, but it was only ever a dream. But when I participated in the ROI Global Summit for Young Jewish Innovators in Tel Aviv last summer, I met someone who was involved in the film industry in Israel who said they would help me make one.”

Samuel then decided to email all his followers, asking them to pledge five or 10 pounds each to help fund the video.

The ‘Zionist rapper’ said that the video was only made possible through these donations.

“It was touch and go, but we made it and I’d love to make more in the future,” he added.

The video’s release has been timed to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the birth of Theodor Herzl – the founder of modern Zionism – and the single was released on Yom Haatzmaut itself.

Samuel revealed that the ideas for his lyrics evolve over a period of time and that there is a particular message in his latest song.

“Broadly speaking, I want people to feel that being Zionist and having a strong connection to Israel is something we can celebrate,” he said.

“From my experiences in the UK I think that we’re afraid to say in a public forum that we’re Zionists or Jewish and that’s unfortunate.”

The video for Proud to be a Zionist was shot in Jerusalem utilising venues as symbols.

Ancient Israel is represented by the Old City, the beginnings of Zionist immigration is symbolised by Yemin Moshe – which was built during the first aliya – and the modern state can be seen through the Knesset.

Samuel has had interest for upcoming tours in Canada, South Africa and Australia and spoke of the enjoyment he gets from gigging.

“I performed in front of 40,000 people in 2008 at the Salute to Israel concert in Trafalgar Square,” he said.

“That was amazing – when I got on to stage I felt on top of the world.”

But Samuel, who was an active member of the youth organisation FZY, is still extremely proud of his humble roots.

“My friend commented on the video this week and said they loved it. But they also said I would always be a Cambridge geek – they’re probably right,” he joked.

All profits from Antithesis’s CD sales go to the Antithesis Charitable Fund. You can order Proud to be a Zionist from and also watch the video there.

Jewish Chronicle: Samuel Green posts a hip-hop tribute to the Holyland on YouTube

By Candice Krieger

Self-styled Zionist rapper Samuel Green is becoming a YouTube sensation.

Mr Green, who performs under the alter-ego Antithesis, has created his debut music video. Released in honour of last week’s Yom Ha’atzmaut, the video, called Proud to be a Zionist, has received more than 5,000 hits on YouTube and the track is gathering momentum. It is in the top 50 best-rated videos for April in the ‘Music – Israel’ category.

The former Mazkir of FZY, Mr Green, 27, tells People: “The video is aimed at the people in the community. I feel that a lot of us are embarrassed to say we are a Zionist as, in the current climate, it can be viewed as a negative word. But we should be proud of it. Being a Zionist does not mean you are an extremist.”

Mr Green, who works for a multi-national marketing firm in Switzerland, recorded Ima Mechaka Babayit in 2001, which Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks described as a “very novel prayer”. He has since produced EPs The Israel Question and United Kingdom of Racism. Varsity named him one of the Top 100 Most Talented Cambridge Students, and the JC included him in its ‘Power 100’ list of those with the most influence over the British Jewish community.