Israel is celebrating its 75th birthday this year and the Jewish Federation of Edmonton is hosting a party! As part of the April 25 festivities, Israeli performers Michael Einav and Rony Goffer will be singing crowd favourites. Michael worked on various theater and TV productions in Tel Aviv before moving to New York City to pursue his Broadway dreams. He has appeared in the off-Broadway productions of Fiddler on the Roof, The Golden Bride, and Scoop. His roles on Israeli television include Israel Idol, The Singing Bee, and Our Song. Rony is an alumna of Beit Zvi, Israel's foremost school for musical theater. She is also a part of a published songwriting team and wrote songs for top Israeli artists, both in English and Hebrew. More recently, she co-wrote “I’ve Got You”, the first single from dance diva Martha Wash’s latest album. We discussed with them what this celebration means for them.
How did your careers start?
Michael: I was a very driven kid. I knew what I wanted to do early on, and I booked my first professional gig at 16. Things continued moving forward from there and I never looked back.
Rony: I’ve always loved both the pop world and musical theater. I was a studio singer from age 16 and part of a published song writing team. My first big show was in the prestigious Aco Theater Festival in Israel.
Why did you get into performing?
Michael: I can’t see myself doing anything else. This has been my dream ever since I can remember having a sense of self. I know it’s a cliche, but it’s true—it chose me, I didn’t choose it.
Rony: There is no better feeling than standing on stage and connecting with the people in front of you; making them dance, celebrate, and making them happy.
What shows have you performed in?
Michael: I have performed in Israel Around the World in 80 Days, King of Siam, The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, My Fair Lady, and Parade. In the United Kingdom, it was a thrill to be part of Jason and the Argonauts, Saturday Night, George M!, and Chicago. When I came to New York, I had a chance to be part of Joel Grey’s Fiddler on the Roof, Scoop, and The Golden Bride.
Rony: I was part of many productions in Israel such as Aida, Chorus Line, Oedipus: Trial of the Gods, Fame, The Sirens, and Snow White. In New York, I acted in Hamlet, and I was a front woman for a dance pop duo, XELLE. We toured around the country and have millions of views on YouTube.
What are your ties to Israel?
Michael: I was born and raised in Israel to an American dad and an Israeli mom. I trained in the UK and moved to New York City eight years ago. My family still lives in Israel, and I go back twice a year to visit them.
Rony: My parents are both Israelis and I was born there, as well. We moved to the Philippines when I was little, and my dad was the security attaché at the Israeli Embassy. We moved back and I finished high school in Israel, and that’s where I met Michael! Funny that we both ended up living in New York, chasing our dreams. And Israel is where my family is and where part of my heart will always stay.
What do you love about Israel?
Michael: The weather, first! And the feeling that I’m home, even if it’s just to visit. And that’s without even mentioning the most amazing food in the world!
Rony: It is such a hodgepodge of nationalities, ethnicities, foods, and spices. There are so many landscapes in this tiny stretch of land. It really is a wondrous place!
Which music do you prefer performing—Israeli or Broadway?
Michael: That’s a tough question! I love both genres equally. I connect to them in different ways. So, I can’t really choose!
Rony: I love all genres! It’s not just Israeli or musicals. I love old school jazz, French chansons, Italian classics, etc. It really is impossible to choose! And each genre brings out something else in you as a performer. It’s part of the fun!
Have you been to Edmonton or Canada before? If so, where and why?
Michael: I’ve never been to Edmonton before, but I have been to Canada a few times. When I was 16, I toured Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary, with a musical about King David and loved every minute of it! I also have family in Toronto and Vancouver. And I always love coming to Canada! It’s such a peaceful and beautiful place.
Rony: I haven’t yet been to Edmonton, but I visited Montreal a few years back for a music festival. And I have friends in Prince Edward Island. We visited there three years ago and it was just gorgeous!
What are you excited about coming to Edmonton?
Michael: I’m excited to discover a new city in Canada, and to meet the Israeli/Jewish community. And celebrate together for Yom Haatzmaut!
Rony: I’m excited to meet everyone and perform! We’ve also been told that Edmonton is so beautiful. We can’t wait to see it!
Why or how is Yom Haatzmaut special for you, especially this year?
Michael: I’ve always loved Yom Haatzmaut, ever since I was a kid. I’ve performed for Yom Haatzmaut in Israel, in the UK, and in New York and I always feel so happy to celebrate our country.
Rony: Growing up abroad, Yom Haatzmaut really gives you a sense of belonging and a sense of pride in your heritage. And performing during Yom Haazmaut, you really get to be part of that celebration and creating that for others.
What do you have planned for your performance in Edmonton?
Michael and Rony: We are super excited to share some of the biggest Israeli hits with you all! We will start with songs for Yom Hazikaron, and then make that impossible switch from sadness to celebration. We’ll be singing everything from Eurovision Israeli winners, through classic pop/rock, to Israeli Defense Force singing troupe hits. We can’t wait to party with you! See you all on April 25!
Tickets and details for the April 25 celebration are available at jewishedmonton.org.