“Bashana Haba’a” (Hebrew for “in the next year) is my favorite Rosh Hashanah song. And now, the Maccabeats just gave it the perfect pandemic cover.
The Jewish a cappella group used the limitations of filming pandemic videos to their advantage: By making the most of what they have at home, the singers’ adorable families are the main stars of the video. They also used the setting of their homes so appropriately. For example, the song begins, “bashana haba’a neshev al hamirpeset,” “in the next year we will sit on our balcony,” and the video shows the band members who have a balcony actually sitting on it with their family — gotta love it.
This video truly has everything a pandemic Rosh Hashanah project needs: lots of cute babies and kids, apples and honey, shofars, spacesuits(!), and, of course, it ends with the band members all getting up and showing that they’re in their underwear. (Worry not! It is all in good taste: They’re really just colorful shorts, paired with the dress shirts and ties — the perfect visual pandemic dad joke to end this delightful video).
But aside from the heart-melting cuteness of the video (seriously, this group has some very cute offsprings!), the choice to cover “Bashana Haba’a” is just so appropriate and pithy. The song is all about the possibilities and the anticipated joys of the coming year — sitting together on the balcony, watching children play and laugh — which makes it the perfect song to start 5781 after a very difficult 5780.
The Maccabeats also added a few of their own, timely lyrics, in English, that make the song even more profound. At a moment when we all feel so far from each other due to social distancing, a lyric like: “Soon the day will arrive when we will sing together/And the distance will just disappear” is enough to bring tears to the eyes. Yes, it is bittersweet that many of us will not be able to sing together as we head into the High Holidays — but it’s also such a meaningful thing to hope for. The Maccabeats also added a wish for health, so needed right now, and one for a better future for our children — truly the most important thing we are all hoping and fighting for right now.
For all those who have lost someone in the past year, “Bashana Haba’a” actually has an added layer of meaning. It was written by Ehud Manor in 1970 — two years after his brother died during Israel’s War of Attrition. It was a song about Manor’s longing to be with his brother again, inspired by Bobby Hebb’s “Sunny,” which Hebb wrote as a way to cope with the loss of his brother.
Sadness and loss, nostalgia for better times, and hope for the future — these are all imbued in this gorgeous song, and it’s perfect for a moment during which our losses are great — and yet our hopes for the next year still remain.
Bravo to The Maccabeats for this incredibly timely cover, and we truly hope to see how good things will be in this coming year.