Born Again in the Movies


Shuli Rand is an Israeli actor with a talent for reinventing himself. After a career as a celebrated stage actor (winning Israel’s equivalent of a Tony Award several times in the 1980s and ’90s), he became a Hasidic Jew in 1996–and withdrew from the theatre completely. Ten years later, Rand (and his wife, Michal Bat-Sheva) returned to public eye, starring in the film Ushpizin, which he also wrote. Again, he astonished everyone by following this with yet another unexpected venture: He became a rock star.

Rand’s first album, 2008’s Nekudah Tovah (“Good Point”), combined the influences of folk songs, American indie-pop, and country music. He followed that up with the release of a live double CD and DVD, Sukkot in Caesarea, in which he played to a crowd of thousands, a mixture of religious and secular Israelis–just like his band, also a combination of haredim and hilonim.

The fact that Rand’s singles are played on secular radio stations testifies to his popular appeal: Songs like “Segula,” with lyrics taken from Talmudic quotations that refer to the Jewish people as a young woman (“Don’t change…you don’t have to be like all the others”), can be taken metaphorically or literally–either way, the feeling is there.

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