Israel’s MIQEDEM worship band just released its third album, “Eshkona,” meaning ‘I will rest,’ now available on all streaming platforms.
MIQEDEM, the ancient Hebrew word for “of old,” – or alternately, “from the east” – has been working on the album for several years, with its creation hindered by the coronavirus pandemic that broke out just as they began production.
“Eshkona” was written and recorded in various places throughout Israel, such as Neve Tzedek in southwestern Tel Aviv and Rosh Pina in the Upper Galilee region of northern Israel. They have also performed in Poland.
The album’s production began in March of 2020, just as COVID was becoming rampant before bringing the international travel scene to a standstill. At this time, the band’s three songwriters moved into a friend’s loft in Neve Tzedek and set up a recording studio, where they began working on the initial tracks.
Unfortunately, not all of the band members were located in Israel at this time and, because international flights were being suspended, production was halted until early 2022, when the band was able to reunite. Production was then moved to Rosh Pina.
Lead singer and guitarist, Shai Sol Haver described the location of the studio as being one of the most beautiful places in Israel.
“When you work there, you wake up every morning with a view of snowy Mt. Hermon,” she said, adding, “and the studio even has a stream running through its front yard.”
The album’s title “Eshkona,” takes its name from the fourth track, “Ever Kayona (Wings of a Dove),” with lyrics from Psalm 55:6-7, “Oh that I had the wings of a dove, I would fly away and be at rest,” a sentiment reflected throughout the album, both lyrically and musically.
MIQEDEM was formed in late 2015 to offer praise and worship to the God of Israel in Hebrew. They recorded their first album in early 2016 in a small basement studio that they rented in Tel Aviv. The album was entirely self-funded and they used whatever equipment they had available or could borrow from friends. The album was released later that year, in May.
Due to its success, the band members decided to make music their main profession and, soon after, began receiving invitations to perform throughout the world.
Over the next 18 months, MIQEDEM played in eight different countries, including France, Ukraine, Poland and nearly two months of touring in the United States. They also performed in Sweden, Germany and England.
And of course, their popularity has continued to grow with more than 71,000 YouTube channel subscribers worldwide, including Israel.
In 2018, the band produced their second album, crowdfunded through Indiegogo, where they managed to exceed their $23,000 goal.
In addition to Sol, other band members include instrumentalist Yaron Cherniak, bass guitarist Vadym Sokolyk and percussionist Gabriel Elbaz.
Sol first came to the attention of the Israeli public in 2014, at the age of 21, when she appeared on the Israeli version of the TV show “American Idol, called HaKochav Haba, “The Next Star.”
She caused quite a stir when she was interviewed during the show and said, “Something I’m putting out there is that I’m a Messianic Jew.”
When the host asked her, “What does that mean?” Sol replied, “Jews that believe in the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures) and the Brit Hadasha (New Testament).”
While some began to call her a “Christian” and a “missionary” – a common charge against a Messianic Jew in Israel – there were others who said, “What is a Messianic Jew? We don’t know what it means.” At the time, she said, people were very open and wanted to hear more of her interesting personal story.
Sol grew up in the southern Israeli port town of Ashdod. Both of her parents are sabras, native-born Israelis Her mother, an artist, is a believer in Yeshua (Jesus), and her father is a lawyer. Raised in a traditional, non-Orthodox Jewish home, her family celebrated the Jewish holidays.
Her mother raised her to believe in Yeshua and she says that she learned about Him from an early age but only made a personal commitment at the age of 16.
At that time, she said, God spoke to her, telling her: “You can’t worship two gods. It’s a life with Yeshua or a life in the world.”
Soon after, Sol left her old life and became more involved with her congregation, joining the worship team. She said she came to the realization that the most important thing is to be in the will of the Lord, not just doing what you want.
She became interested in music at an early age, about six years old.
Her mother asked what she wanted for her birthday and she answered that she wanted a darbuka (a Turkish hand drum). And from there, she said, each year, she learned a different instrument – piano, guitar, percussion instruments, bongos and congas. Eventually, at the age of 16 – when she made her commitment to follow Yeshua – Sol began to sing and write music, and she says today that all of her musical talents come from God.
MIQEDEM’s instrumentalist Yaron Cherniak is unique in his ability to beautifully play an array of ancient Near Eastern instruments, such as the Persian tar, the oud and the Persian string instrument, shourangiz. Cherniak also plays the hurdy-gurdy, a string instrument that produces sound by a hand-crank-turned, rosined wheel rubbing against the strings.
The hurdy-gurdy is a traditional instrument that can be found in eastern European countries, such as Hungary, Poland and Belarus, along with parts of France and Ukraine. Cherniak studied the tar and Persian music in Spain with a musician who had fled Iran. He remained in contact with musicians in Iran during the recent hijab protests and enjoys sharing their music.
Click here to listen to Miqedem’s new album “Eshkona” for free.