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Updated 2:00 PM February 11, 2005




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Israeli standouts in literature, music lead theme semester

Two top figures in Israeli culture will appear at U-M in April as part of the "Cultures of the Middle East" theme semester.
Grossman (Photo by Lisa Pleskow)

"David Grossman is probably Israel's leading contemporary author and Yair Dalal is Israel's leading mizrachi 'world' musician," says Marcia Inhorn, director of the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies.

Grossman will speak at 8 p.m. April 4 in Rackham Amphitheatre. Dalal will perform at 8 p.m. April 12 in the Michigan League's Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre.

Both events are part of the "Changing Face of Israeli Society" lecture series. The Grossman event is free and open to the public; tickets for the Dalal concert are $10 for students and $25 for non-students.

While enrollment in Middle Eastern programs has doubled since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the semester attempts to focus on a varied number of issues facing the region that have gotten far less attention. The goal: promote a better understanding of the Middle East and its people, cultures and languages.

Grossman began a 25-year career with Israel Radio at age 10 as a correspondent for youth broadcasts. Literary critics have praised the internationally acclaimed author, saying he expresses the courage, pain and harsher realities of Israeli society with strength and honesty.

Grossman's prose can be intricate and complex, critics say. An advocate for peace, he has written essays on the breakdown of the Oslo Accords, offering suggestions for how the two sides can come together.

The 1993 peace talks between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization resulted in a series of agreements but did not resolve conflicts. Central themes Grossman has explored in his writing include injustice as a human phenomenon as well as a socio-political condition.

Dalal, a composer, violinist and oud player, is a prolific Israeli ethnic musician. During the past 10 years, he has recorded nine albums that cover a wide and varied cultural territory.
Dalal (Photo courtesy Tamar Fraiberg)

Much of Dalal's output reflects the strong affinity he has for the desert and its inhabitants. His family came to Israel from Baghdad, Iraq, so he has included a great deal of Iraqi material in his work.

One of the goals of the semester is to look at the area as a diverse region with a number of cultural influences. Dalal creates new Middle Eastern music by interweaving the traditions of Iraqi and Jewish Arabic music with a range of influences from numerous regions, Inhorn says.

With involvement from the University Musical Society, three U-M museums and community institutions, the theme semester will include special courses, concerts, exhibits, lectures and other events, while highlighting international experts from the University and around the world.

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