Fools of Prophecy hits Israels high notes

It was a chain of coincidences that led to the meeting of the six men who call themselves Fools of Prophecy (Shotei Hanevua), an Israeli world-music band that will soon be touring American college campuses, including four in Northern California.

They speak of these coincidences often.

Two of their fathers were childhood friends in Haifa, lost touch and were reunited when their wives were giving birth on the same day in the same hospital. Two are brothers. Two met when they were 17, then ran into each other at a music store years later, where one was playing bass. The other started rapping, and there was a “click.”

The band officially came together in 1998 and has since become a favorite on the Israeli festival circuit, frequently touring the country to play at the numerous New Age-y happenings that have become so popular. They were also named Band of the Year in Israel.

They will be playing on four consecutive days, starting Monday, Nov. 7, at U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Davis, San Francisco State University and Stanford.

Most members of the band come from Northern Israel; several grew up in the Galilee. A promotional poster advertises the band as bringing “a groove of peace from the Middle East,” and they sing in Hebrew, Arabic and English.

Their music is a confluence of styles, with hip-hop, soul, rock, reggae and Middle Eastern rhythms all mixed together.

“In Israel, we are influenced by both Western and Eastern culture,” said band member Roi Levi in a telephone interview from Israel.

When asked why he thought Israeli music had become so influenced by world music, he said, “I think it has to do with the fact that so many Israelis go traveling after the army. They are exposed to different cultures and bring it back home. Music has always been a place for influencing and being influenced.”

Levi said the band’s name came to his head when they started playing together. While there is a reference to something of the sort in the Mishnah, he waxed a bit philosophical, saying that a prophecy comes out of a chain of coincidences.

“Even our sentences that we speak, we don’t know what’s bringing them to our minds. And when you’re a fool, you don’t think so much, but you can accidentally say things that can be looked at as prophecies later.”

This is the second leg of a tour of the United States that began a few months ago. The band’s tour is sponsored by Israel at Heart, a New York-based organization founded to promote Israel’s image by bringing young Israelis to college campuses.

Following in the footsteps of the Idan Reichel Project and Hadag Nachash, this is the third band to visit the United States in the past year.

In addition to playing on college campuses, the band members meet informally with students to talk about their day-to-day lives in the Jewish state.

Levi and the band felt proud of being ambassadors in this way.

“We feel proud to represent our generation of young Israelis to the young people of the United States, letting those who see us understand Israel better.

“Israel is not only a war zone. It’s also a land of living people and friendships and romance and art and nature. It’s regular life.”

Concert schedule

Fools of Prophecy will play three Bay Area gigs, and one in Davis.
The band performs 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 7, at Pauley West Ballroom, U.C. Berkeley. Information: (510) 845-7793;
8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8, at Kresge Auditorium, Stanford University. nformation: (650) 723-1602;
12 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, at Cesar Chavez Plaza, SFSU. Information: (415) 333-4922;
8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 10, at Freeborn Hall, U.C. Davis. Information: (530) 756-3708.
Tickets are $5 for students, $25 general admission, $30 at the door, except for the SFSU show, which is free. Tickets for Berkeley and Stanford can be bought at and for Davis at Proceeds from the Davis show will go to the American Red Cross to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina.
More information: (415) 512-6285 or

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."