Russian melodies are part of Israel’s musical DNA. So many so-called Israeli folk songs are Russian tunes with Hebrew lyrics and can be traced to the cultural baggage brought in by immigrants of the Second Aliya.
Indeed, the bulk of the fullhouse audience at the opening of the Israeli season of the Alexandrov Ensemble of the Russian Armed forces last Thursday at the Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv were elderly immigrants.
They had come to hear evergreen songs like “Katyusha” and “Kalinka” in the original and not in translation, though during the spirited community singing of “Kalinka,” the person to the left of me sang in Hebrew and to the right of me in Russian. As far as the melody was concerned, they were both on the same page.