Their gefilte fish brings all the boys to the yard – Haaretz

Posted By on November 8, 2021

Gefilte fish-loving gangsters who trade in horseradish meet in a parking lot for a deal that goes awry. Thats the plot of the new video by pop duo Vibers, updating the old Yiddish classic Chiribim, Chiribom to 2021.

Vibers (women in Yiddish, usually in the sense of chatterboxes or gossips) is Michal Karmi and Yael Tal, who formed their musical act last year in order to get back to their roots. Theyve just released their second single, which recounts a humorous Yiddish tale about a mother who cooks noodle soup and a rabbi who shouts at the heavens to stop drenching him.

The American Barry Sisters released the best-known version of Chiribim in the 1960s. But the song has also been covered by Dudu Fisher and legendary Israeli comedy trio Hagashash Hahiver, and is a staple in popular Yiddish medleys.

The stylish video was posted on YouTube less than a month ago and has already had over 40,000 views (agroyse metsie for a song in Yiddish).

The idea of Ashkenazi-style entertainment came to the folklore-loving Tal as she was listening to the A-Wa band (a female trio performing traditional Yemenite music mixed with hip-hop and electronic music). She was also inspired by the cultural flourishing of Yiddish in recent years, which is especially felt in Americas Jewish community. For instance, Yiddish has a starring role in the Netflix hit Unorthodox, starring Shira Haas, and of course in the Israeli TV series Shtisel.

The duo released their first video last year, a cover of the classic Bei Mir Bistu Shein (featuring Michael Moshonov), which has been watched almost 90,000 times on YouTube. It started as a personal song that connects both of us with our grandmothers, and it took off in a way we couldnt have imagined, Tal recounts.

In both videos, the styling is retro in a world that revolves around two semi-legendary divas who are elegant and hungry for life.

If the women look like theyre playing parts, thats probably because the two Vibers are first and foremost actors/comedians. Karmi, who studied at Ramat Gans Beit Zvi School for the Performing Arts, has appeared in numerous TV series and ads. Tal, meanwhile, is a graduate of Yoram Loewensteins Performing Arts Studio in Tel Aviv, and is best known for playing Nechama in the second season of TV comedy Shababnikim (she also had a minor role in the award-winning Fill the Void).

The two met about three years ago while appearing in a play together, and since then we havent shut our mouths, right up to this interview, Tal says.

They wont reveal their ages at least not at first.

You can ask; you wont necessarily get an answer, Tal says. Age is irrelevant, in the same way that its irrelevant to ask a person their ethnicity. Its what it seems, thats all. Theres ageism: the moment people know, it immediately affects the way they see you. In our profession, its very easy to label people, especially women. Youre not allowed to ask that at auditions in the United States. She ends by declaring, Im as old as I look.

Radio gaga

The Vibers characters exchange rapid-fire witticisms in the best Yiddish tradition, reflecting Tal and Karmis own rat-a-tat dynamic.

Each of them contains something of our grandmothers theres a guiding hand from grandmother from above, Tal says. Karmi adds with a chuckle, Its very mystical!

Vibers or not, both women talk incessantly and at a certain point Tal sighs in Polish: Even so, I feel like Im not expressing myself in this interview.

Their act was born out of impatience with the acting profession and the constant sense of waiting around for roles.

When you finish acting school, your job is presumably to go to auditions and wait for them to hire you, Tal says. But the media has opened up now and you can upload content on your own. Thats how Udi Kagan and Tom Yaar succeeded, she adds, referring to two popular Israeli comedians.

It almost always begins from a silly idea on the balcony that keeps developing, Tal continues, explaining their working method. There are comedians who work on characters; we work on content with comic potential. That also reduces pressure professionally, because like in a couple relationship, the less eager you seem, the more they want you. We dont issue a declaration that were musicians, we wont go and record an album of original songs tomorrow. But its work that can be expressed in many ways, she says.

Speaking of couples, Karmi and Taicher were married three years ago in a civil ceremony, after meeting in rather unusual circumstances. They met after she fell in love with his voice on the radio, and decided that she had to find him.

Many years ago I heard Taicher and Zarahovitsh on the radio [on 102 FM], she recounts. I listened to the program again and again, and said to myself: That voice! I have to meet that man. But I was in a relationship, so didnt anything about it. When the relationship ended, I dispatched several of my people in order to get Sharon to talk to me on Facebook.

The thing is that I was sure he didnt know it was a ploy, but under the chuppah [at the wedding ceremony] he told me he knew everything. I was sure that I was so clever and suddenly, in front of everyone and all the guests... she laughs.

Karmi says the casting of her husband in the video, playing a mobster with a love of horseradish, was not a cynical move to get more viewers. It simply fit perfectly, she says. Hes a great actor, versatile, not your typical gangster. We wrote an entirely different character and there was supposed to be a different actor. Two days before filming, we were touched by Gods hand and realized that Sharon could do it more accurately. And hes also my husband, so I could impose as many tasks as I wanted on him.

Tals husband also helped out as a production assistant on the video, even though hes actually a musician: Guitarist Ido Ziggo Ofek, who is one of the founding members of Hadorbanim, a pop-rock band that enjoyed hits with the likes of Lo Ba Li Lishmoa and Shuv Hadisco Kan.

Tals story is suspiciously similar to that of Karmis: I had my eye on [Ofek] at Hadorbanim performances when I was 19. Weve been together for 450 years. Write that: 450 years.

Casting some doubt on that statement is the fact that Tals father is Shabtai Tal, a photojournalist who is responsible for the iconic 1971 photo of David Ben-Gurion folding his hands under his chin.

Youre an independent actor and hes an independent musician. Hows your financial situation?

Tal: Theres no money, but its OK. We do what we can with great love, and we manage. I wish I didnt have aspirations and dreams and ambition I could have lived a very simple life. Its liberating not to want things; its very tiring to pursue. Thats the internal conflict between the diva who wants to achieve and make it, and the girl who wants to live in a village with an outdoor shower. Deep down, Im a diva. I always need more than that.

The problem, they explain, is their choice to create independently.

When you start, youre alone and the financing is also independent, Tal says. We got a lot of favors from friends who worked for a reduced price, and whom I also helped in the past. If you dont look out for yourself and are dependent on whether theyll accept you for an audition, youll go nowhere. Im not in favor of sitting and waiting for anything.

The video was directed by a friend of theirs, Tamar Keinan, and everyone from the makeup team to the camera operators chipped in. Its a guerrilla video that looks like a million dollars, Tal says. You get up early in the morning with a minor anxiety attack, adds Karmi. You go out for 12 hours of filming, during which youre in charge of making sure everything goes according to plan. And then you finish, pat yourself on the shoulder and return home and remove the makeup. Unless youre Karin from [the latest season of reality TV show] Married at First Sight.

Whats in a name

When Avigdor Lieberman wanted to humiliate Tzipi Livni during the 2013 election campaign, he called her one of the three vibers, along with Zehava Galon and Shelly Yacimovich. However, Tal and Karmi are more than happy to lean in to the name. My husbands mother has a group of friends, moshav women, who sit together at the pool, and their husbands call them vibers in other words, chatterboxes, Tal says. There are all kinds of interpretations for this word. A lot of Yiddish is derogatory, barbed expressions. Its hard to find anything that has only one meaning, theres always another spiel. Something about this language doesnt take itself too seriously.

Its impossible to doubt these two womens affection for the old language. The importance of our project is to make this language accessible, to make it relevant, to create pop songs, rap. It can open up to so many things, but it has to be contemporary, Karmi explains.

In order to pronounce the words properly, they use the guidelines of the Yiddishpiel Theater in Tel Aviv.

Our vibers are strong women, Karmi says. Theyre contemporary but theyre embracing the nostalgia, singing in a language that isnt common, thats considered somewhat unsexy, old, annoying. But theyre colorful and arent afraid of being like that.

Yael and I are also colorful, but not like them, Karmi adds. Were both kind of ugly ducklings from childhood. I was cross-eyed and had short hair.

And I was skinny and flat-chested with steel-wool hair, Tal adds. The Vibers are our alter ego the bullied girls who want to be women of the world.

Their affection for Yiddish shouldnt be mistaken for sentimentality, though, with the language having a deeper cultural meaning for both women.

My grandfather and grandmother tried very hard not to speak Yiddish. Anything that brought you back to the Holocaust was an open wound that shouldnt be touched, Tal says. They kept up a faade and dignity. There was a time when I didnt understand why; today I admire it. There was no sense of victimization about what was taken. My grandmother didnt like to talk about it; only at the end of her life did we talk about it. These were people without pleasure I always felt there was some kind of storm raging inside them.

For Karmi, singing in Yiddish also represents a kind of victory over the Nazis. I want to sing Chiribim on Polish soil. To jump around for them, in the town of my grandmother who was expelled from there. Even though she was a restrained woman, I believe it would have moved her. Its a victory especially now when theres a law against saying the Polish people participated in this thing.

Finally, how do they respond to claims that their use of Yiddish is just a gimmick? That everything is a gimmick, Tal shrugs. Anyone who wants to criticize me is invited to do so and if they can, please can they do it when Im having my period.

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Their gefilte fish brings all the boys to the yard - Haaretz

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