In the early 2000s, when kids didn’t have personal electronics and car rides meant either playing – or fighting – with your siblings or staring out the window, we would have CDs playing on repeat in our green Chevy van.
One of our favorites was “He Is My Defense” by Marty Goetz. And on May 28, an audience of a few hundred of us got to see him and his daughter, Misha, perform live in Jerusalem.
Ours is not a particularly musical family. Out of four kids, only two of us play an instrument at a beginner’s level, and neither parent plays at all. In short, there’s no particular reason why kids aged 3 to 16 would ask for classical music. Sure, sometimes we’d have Christian kids’ music playing or another Messianic artist, but in terms of our family’s collective musical taste, Marty was a favorite.
When I first heard about the concert two months ago I immediately told my husband, “We have to go.” He’d never heard of Marty or Misha, but he agreed. (We danced to Misha’s “Aaronic Benediction” at our wedding – oh, well.) You know how small children feel when they find out they’re going to meet a Disney character or Marvel superhero? That’s how I felt in anticipation of this concert.
The night was warm, the vista from Trinity Broadcasting Network’s outdoor venue was breathtaking, and – to quote The Jerusalem Post – “Israel’s finest chamber orchestra,” the Tel Aviv Soloists Ensemble, was conducted by the Israeli Messianic composer David Loden.
Only in Israel can one experience a Messianic concert in a city dotted with minarets. So after the evening Muslim call to prayer ended, Marty and Misha walked onto the stage. Three songs stood out to me that night. As dusk fell and the stars began to shimmer, Isaiah 62 and Yeshua’s lament recorded in Luke 13 rang out once again in “For Zion’s Sake.” I was simultaneously there, breathless over the Old City and the Mount of Olives, and back in the family van hurtling down a highway in North America.
One of the most memorable parts was when the event was interrupted by the Muslim neighbors celebrating the end of the day’s Ramadan fast with a banquet, and breaking out into uproarious singing. As it became evident that the noise – which would interfere with recording – would continue for a while, Marty began playing the Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem.
Finally, before performing his iconic “He Is My Defense,” Marty joked, “The hyphen in ‘move-ed’ is there to make the whole thing sound more biblical.” I had a flashback to the congregation I attended when I was young and how whenever we would sing this song, that hyphen always gave me a secret thrill. It made me think of Shakespeare, who had manipulated syllables at the dawn of modern English when most people couldn’t even read or write.
As I carefully lifted our sleeping daughter out of her car seat after the two-hour drive back to Haifa, I looked at my husband and admitted, “I’ve pronounced ‘Goetz’ incorrectly my entire life until now.”
CD and DVD recordings of the concert are due out later this year.