SPARK Jewish Music Festival Lights up Seattle

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Storm squalls and showers rolled through the Pacific Northwest over the 48 hours prior to the scheduled start of the first ever SPARK Seattle Jewish Music Festival. Yet even in the face of some early morning drizzle, there was no need for concern, the clouds had parted by the noon start time and festival goers were met with rays of warm Seattle sunshine.

After seeing the wide array of Jewish music on display at the Moshav Music Festival in Modiin, Israel, Adam Simon asked himself, why not Seattle? With that improbably question, Simon, a lifetime Seattleite began putting the pieces together for SPARK. Assembling a first rate group of like minded locals and with the help of a J-Kick campaign SPARK was transformed from dream into reality. 

When asked what inspired him to invest so much effort into an as yet untried idea, Simon explained that the end goal was much more than music. “We are a wonderful community but we sometimes tend to confine ourselves into particular compartments. We wanted to show how much more we can achieve when we do things together. United we can break through the artificial barriers and we can accomplish so much more.”

We wanted to show how much more we can achieve when we do things together – Adam Simon

Simon told The Mike Report that while he tends to be a worrier, he made a conscious decision not to get stressed. “We planned and prepared as best we could, there was no point in worrying about things like the weather over which we had no control”.  Simon was profusely appreciative of the legion of volunteers who made SPARK a reality along with whatever divine provenance (Siyata De’Shmaya) played a role in the event’s success.

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SPARK! Bringing together the young and young at heart. (Photo: Steven Hemmat)

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Planners named their SPARK planning group “The Eruv Cooperative” a bow to the unifying qualities that an Eruv can bestow upon a community. All proceeds for the all day event were demarcated for maintenance of the Seward Park Eruv. With food trucks, vendor booths and a kids entertainment zone the festival was remarkably well organized and to us audience members all seemed to go off without a hitch. 

My daughter said it was the bomb-diggity! She’s ready to do it again next year! – Tiferet Werblud

A device designed to separate children from their recently digested falafel.

A device designed to separate children from their recently digested falafel.

Performer David Kogut jamming with his fans following his set.

Performer David Kogut jamming with his fans following his set.

The vast expanse of lawn that is the Seward Park amphitheatre made the several hundred strong crowd appear smaller than their actual numbers. The mood was jovial as children chased balloons while the grown ups schmoozed with acquaintances and new friends. And of course there was the music.

A phenomenal event! Proud to have been part of it. Looking forward to next year! -Julie Greene

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Most talented face painter we have ever seen (right Beloria?)

Most talented face painter we have ever seen

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NCSY (City Director Ari Hoffman left) helped the kids and grown ups alike maintain a perpetual sugar high throughout the festival.

Seattle has not seen as diverse  a gathering of talented Jewish musicians and artists in recent memory. The festival opened with the eclectic Seattle band Sasson followed by local favorite David Kogut, both delivering a light hearted blend of Jewish and Israeli favorites. Erev Rav coaxed the crowd out of their seats with their unique blend of rock, reggae and latin rhythms.

David Kogut warming up the crowd.

David Kogut warming up the crowd.

Erev Rav

Erev Rav

Rapper Nissim, well known and loved in the Seward Park Jewish community raised the energy level with his rap infused, soul filled expressions of spiritual joy. Rabbi Simon Benzaquen joined Nissim for their soulful rendition of the powerful “Sores”. The song merges the shared suffering and hoped for redemption of the African-American and Jewish communities. Nissim’s new single “Jerusalem” was warmly received by the SPARK festival goers.

Beautiful event! Jews rocking out to wonderful music at the Seward Park amphitheater! Such Unity! -Leah Notik

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Nissim

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Nissim

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Nissim

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Rabbi Benzaquen performing “Sores” with Nissim.

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Rabbi Simon Benzaquen and Nissim embrace following an emotional rendition of “Sores”

Rabbi Benzaquen debuted his new band Benzaquen H.M. mesmerizing the crowd with the sight of a well loved (recently retired) pulpit Rabbi expertly delivering  original and traditional Jewish melodies with a contagious hip hop beat. Benzaquen H.M. was followed by Oregon based Ben Yosef.

Benzaquen H.M. (Photo: Steven Hemmat)

Benzaquen H.M. (Photo: Steven Hemmat)

Talented reggae infused rapper Ari Lesser, well known for his break out Youtube hit “Boycott Israel” mesmerized all with his Israel themed set. His new cut calling out Hamas and their sympathizers was expertly delivered. Lesser told The Mike Report that his new single will be focusing on the Jewish indigenous connection to the land of Israel. This was Lesser’s second visit to the Northwest.

Ari Lesser

Ari Lesser

Headliner, Moshav skillfully delivered their trademark middle eastern rock blend, projecting a powerful burst of musical energy to the audience for a great finale.

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MOSHAV

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MOSHAV

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SPARK!

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A joyous afternoon.

Frequent TMR contributor Steven Hemmat told The Mike Report that he hopes organizers will make SPARK an annual event. SPARK planner Adam Simon told us that this is his goal as well. We can’t wait!

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