On its face, the news that Sarit Hadad is pregnant is just another one of those gossip items from the lives of pop stars, which generally yield an apathetic response at best. Nadav Guedj was drafted into the army, Omer Adam was discharged, Pe’er Tassi got married. Koby Peretz and his wife are expecting their third child, and Eyal Golan and Ruslana Rodina have a new baby boy. Who cares? Certainly not me.
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Maybe it’s because in most cases there’s this nagging feeling that the personal lives of these singers are being appropriated to benefit their public relations machines.
Eden Ben Zaken’s boyfriend surprised her a few weeks ago by proposing to her on the deck of a yacht in Eilat. Mazal Tov, but it doesn’t come from the heart.
Look at the picture of the boyfriend, Shuki, on one knee with the ring. It’s all calculated and staged and edited for posting on social media. Not that it’s much different from what most Israelis do, but still. By the way, Ben Zaken will soon be performing in Caesarea. The press release about her engagement made a point of noting that as well.
The reaction to the news of Hadad’s pregnancy is completely different. It isn’t apathy, and certainly not reservation. Rather, it is simply being happy for her. A heartfelt Mazal Tov.
There are a number of reasons for this. The first is that, although Hadad has been one of Israeli pop music’s top stars for 20 years, she has never given off a sense of exaggerated self-satisfaction, and she has certainly never displayed a winner’s arrogance. She has also managed to avoid being totally packaged as a consumer product for the masses. She simply isn’t made of that kind of stuff.
There is something practical about her personality, especially as it comes across on stage. She is the opposite of a drama queen. That’s also one of her qualities as a singer. What’s great about her voice is its clarity. She never makes an effort to excite. She doesn’t lie.
But the main reason to share in her personal joy is that in her character and her songs there’s a clear element of consideration for others; their feelings, their pain and also their happiness. Singers generally sing first and foremost about themselves; superstars even more so. But Hadad, in contrast to most pop stars, makes sure to also sing about others. She does this time after time, album after album.
My favorite of her most recent albums is “20.” In one of its loveliest songs, “Ani Me’ahelet Lakha” (“I’m Wishing You”), she sings to an ex-lover, “May you not know any grief and pain, of the type you left me in my heart.” One can call it cynical, but the sentiment seems genuine.
Another song on the album, “Kumi Utzi” (“Get Up and Get Out”) is a song of solidarity, addressed to a woman who has suffered some sort of abuse from her husband: “He’s not for you, my sister bride/Don’t be sad, and don’t cry/With swift feet, my bruised sister/Run now, don’t wait/From a land that devours and betrays/Get up and run, my innocent dove/Get up and walk out the door/Don’t wait another second.”
Both these songs were written by Henree, Hadad’s writer and producer for the past decade, and he also wrote the song “Mimi,” which is on Hadad’s most recent album.
“Mimi” is a song dedicated to a mother. It’s a genre common in Mizrahi pop in recent years, but most songs of this genre sound false and are focused on the one singing, not the mother who’s the subject of the song.
“Mimi” isn’t like that. It’s really a love song to a mother, with all her strengths and weaknesses, and its beauty and complexity go even deeper if you read it as a song that speaks about the relationship between a gay son and his mother, who knows but doesn’t want to know. “When will you bring me a bride? When will you have a family?” the mother asks the son in the song. “When will you bring me a grandson or granddaughter?”
In real life, outside the song, it’s now happening to Sarit Hadad, and one is drawn into being happy for her is the simple reason that she’s done the same for others.