By David Caspi
Singer-songwriter Paul Simon has arrived in Israel on Wednesday afternoon for a concert on Thursday evening at Ramat-Gan national stadium, in front of approximately 20,000 adoring fans. Upon arrival, Simon held a press conference in which he addressed questions of his Jewish heritage and artistry, but declined to say whether he was scheduled to meet with Noam & Aviva Shalit, parents of captured IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit – according to various speculations.
Paul Simon was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1941 to Jewish immigrant parents from Hungary. When asked about his religious views, Simon said that he considers himself “An individual, who constantly gets the Jewish tag” and that he “Does not believe that being Jewish affects his day to day life”. While exiting the Ben Gurion airport, he waved at photographers saying “Hey, it’s good to be here” and then rushed to his seaside hotel in Tel Aviv.
And while Simon himself was resting before the show, his longtime guitarist Mark Stewart partied at the hottest spot in Tel Aviv on Wednesday nights – The Genki. The club features a highly popular weekly performance of Israel’s premier sing-along star Einat Sarouf. Stewart, who has been a regular collaborator with Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Sir Paul McCartney, amongst other, was brought up to the stage and stated that “Sarouf’s charisma and showmanship is something he has yet to have seen in a performing artist”, letting it be known he attended her show despite the fact he should be resting before Thursday’s concert.
Paul Simon’s concert would be his first in the holy land in 28 years, having performed in Israel twice before, on his solo tour in 1978 and with fellow music partner Art Garfunkel in 1983. Simon’s next stop is South Africa, where he would be filming a special documentary commemorating 25 years of the release of his noted album “Graceland”. No word if he’ll be back in the near future for his own opportunity to attend a show by Einat Sarouf.