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Old City of Hebron. Image by بدارين- used under a Creative Commons By Atribution 4.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons
Redemption and Hope
June 18, 2021

This week, a story from the Sacred Steps podcast. We hear from a former Israeli soldier who wrestles with identity and his faith. Then, reflections on "The Black National Anthem", Lift Every Voice.

Dean Issacharoff. Photo by Shaina Shealy
Regret of an Israeli officer June 18, 2021
Dean Issacharoff says he used to get excited when he’d hear the Israeli national anthem.
“Goosebumps excited. This is my home excited,” Dean says. When he was growing up, he felt an almost gravitational desire to build and protect the Jewish state.  “My Jewish identity was based completely around nationalism, my Jewish nationalism,” Dean says. “I wasn't religious. I had Zionism. I wasn’t orthodox. I wasn't secular. I was a Zionist.” That all changed when he came out of serving time for the Israeli Defense Force. He started to question violence towards Palestinians that he had helped carry out. He started speaking up and found himself under fire by his own government. They called him a liar. He knew he had a choice: let it be, or investigate and prove he had committed a crime. 

This story was produced by KALW's The Spiritual Edge in collaboration with University of Southern California's Center for Religion and Civic Culture.

Shaina Shealy. Award-winning radio producer at WNYC’s Snap Judgment in Oakland, CA. She earned an M.A. in Islamic and Middle East Studies from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Her Masters of Journalism from U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism was earned as a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellow in Arabic and the Middle East. Her work has been supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and the International Women’s Media Foundation. and more. She recently spent a summer at Middlebury Language School studying Arabic as a Kathryn Davis Fellow for Peace.

Make sure to check out more episodes of The Spiritual Edge podcast.

Hymnal open to
Lift Every Voice: Behind the ‘Black National Anthem' June 18, 2021
A 120-year-old anthem is enjoying a new life in Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the country. Producer Kimberly Winston looks at the history of the song, from a poem written for a children’s recitation to a Coachella performance by Beyonce, and talks to vocalists and historians about the song’s changing use and steadfast meaning. (This story was originally broadcast in June 2020.)

Melinda Doolittle, finalist on season six of American Idol.

Desmond Scaife Jr., singer. You can see his performance of Lift Every Voice and Sing on YouTube.

Birgitta Johnson, associate professor of ethnomusicology and African American studies at the University of South Carolina.

Birgitta Johnson, Courtesy of the University of South Carolina

Birgitta Johnson
Courtesy of the University of South Carolina

Producer Kimberly Winston's companion article can be found at Religion Unpluged.

Performances of Lift Every Voice used in this story are by:
Stevie Wonder, Melba Moore, and Bebe Winans recorded at Vallejo Drive Church SDA;
Darren Jones, and Kyle Hayden at Milwaukee Area Technical College;
both shared under a Creative Commons By Attribution 4.0 license.
We Are The Future Big Band, courtesy of The Berklee School of Music.

The field recording of LIft Every Voice was made at a
Black Lives Matter march on Pennsylvania Ave., Washington D.C. on June 5th, 2020.


Music for this week's episode by MC Yogi, and Blue Dot Sessions.