Pop stars to stump for Israel

Pop stars Evan, left, and Jaron Lowenstein. ()

Pop stars Evan, left, and Jaron Lowenstein. ()

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 (JTA) — Touring the country as pop stars doesn’t leave Evan and Jaron much time for hobbies, but when the duo finds a down moment, they try to advocate for Israel. The Lowenstein twins, who had a top-10 hit in 2001 with “Crazy for This Girl,” have found time to speak out for Israel a lot lately, and have even crafted a song to honor the Jewish state. They will perform the song Sunday, joining others at New York City’s Baruch College to remember victims of terrorism in Israel. The Israel Project event comes a day before the Republican National Convention opens at Madison Square Garden. Evan Lowenstein, 30, said he and his brother receive 30 to 40 requests each week for personal appearances. This event matched the right timing with an issue they care about. “I can sit here and say The Israel Project has been dear to my heart for months,” Evan told JTA in a phone interview. “But really, it just seemed like something that was good and worked out time-wise.” Besides coordinating a tour schedule that must stop on Saturdays for Shabbat, the pair have to juggle last-minute calls from programs like “The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn.” The former semi-professional baseball players also participated in a minor league all-star game this summer. Evan, speaking on his brother’s behalf, said they are coming to New York to get more people to understand the issues Israel faces, and not to promote their new album. “I think that my brother and I bring a certain measure of coolness and that’s why people get people like my brother and I in the first place,” said Evan, who was, along with Jaron, one of People Magazine’s “Most Beautiful People in the World” in 2001. “We’re accepting that call.” Observant Jews from the Atlanta area, the duo was wary of performing for Jewish organizations when they first became known nationwide. Concerned about getting involved in controversial territory, the group stuck to performing at children’s hospitals and Special Olympics events. “It’s dangerous to stick your neck out,” he said. “People get killed for their beliefs.” But as they have matured, they have become more interested in the topics of religious pluralism and Israel. Both brothers studied at yeshivas in Israel when they were teenagers, and their sister now lives there. So Evan and Jaron, who left their record label so that they could play the music they wanted and sell albums for a cheaper price, are following their gut on this as well. “It’s far more important to make sure Israel stays around than to make sure I stay around,” Evan said. He has helped launch a line of necklaces that are filled with soil from holy sites in Israel. “Our whole thing is, whether you are Jewish or Christian, we all share a common ground in Israel,” Evan said. “Where is the common denominator? The common denominator is the soil of Israel.” The Common Ground Necklace, available at www.forcommonground.com, launched over the summer in the United States, and Lowenstein hopes it will gain popularity the way yellow bracelets supporting Tour de France biker Lance Armstrong’s cancer foundation have this year. “We’re selling thousands,” Evan said. “We always seem to be on back order.” Evan said he admires the work of The Israel Project because he believes the media has unfairly portrayed Israel as the aggressor in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The organization’s mission is largely focused on bringing positive stories about Israel into the public eye, and refuting negative charges against the Jewish state. “What you see is not what you get,” he said of the media. “It’s easy to paint Israel as the Goliath.” Evan said the song he will sing with Jaron at Baruch College has only been played a couple of times before, at similar events. He calls it a “call to action” and a tribute to the Jewish state. There are no plans to record it professionally.

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