In celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day, on April 16, I chatted with “American Idol” season 10 star Brett Loewenstern, who will be singing “Hatikvah” (the national anthem of Israel) at Blue and White Night on April 6. The Berklee College student recently participated in Birthright-Israel and has spoken out against bullying.
What was your experience like on “American Idol”?
My experience was more or less like a dream. I couldn’t believe it each time I passed a round. It was a dream come true, considering I had wanted to be a contestant on the show since I was 8! It taught me a lot about the music industry and about working with people from all over the country, as well as how to prepare myself professionally.
What’s your connection to Israel?
My connection to Israel is simply the feeling I get of being home when I step off the plane. The history, culture and energy of the land and people inspire me. Beyond that, I have family in Bet Shemesh and Rehovot, and I dream of ultimately living in Israel. It’s our home, and that will always be my deepest-rooted feeling.
Who is your favorite Jewish musical artist?
If you’re talking about a musician who happens to be Jewish, I’d say Amy Winehouse. She’s my spirit animal, and I’ve been a fan since her introduction to the States years ago. If you’re talking Jewish style, I don’t know much about Israeli pop music, but I’ve listened to Sarit Hadad’s “Shema Israel” and couldn’t stop. She’s my new favorite in Hebrew music.
I understand this out-of-control culture of bullying has affected you. What’s your advice for other teens out there who are being bullied?
Truthfully, the most cliché thing to say is, “Pick your head up and don’t let what they say bother you.” That is beyond the truth. First, before you can do that, though, you have to defeat the bully within yourself, and then everything else becomes clear. Love every quality you’ve been blessed with, because we all have something big to share with the world, which is in need of fixing. And if you’re young—and no matter your grade, even college—it doesn’t degrade your strength to get help from an authority. It shows even more strength. Overall, just be you, because you’re great and no one can stop that.