Peace anthem from an Israeli bomb shelter

‘The Voice’ contestant Sara Merson offers touching rendition of Matisyahu’s pro-peace track from an Ashdod shelter.

Merson: “I was mad, so I made the video.”

Merson: “I was mad, so I made the video.”

English teacher-turned-singer Sara Merson, an American living in Israel, recorded a cover of reggae musician Matisyahu’s song, One Day, from a bomb shelter in Ashdod to show the world what it’s like for Israelis living under Hamas rocket fire. Her clip went viral and has brought new meaning to the song.

“This is the reality of what’s going on here. Over 1,000 rockets have been sent to Israel from Hamas in Gaza. Even after the ‘cease fire,’ Hamas continued to send rockets our way. We are fortunate here to have the Iron Dome antimissile system to intercept some of them, but without it, these rockets would land in heavily populated civilian areas and many would be killed,” Merson, who lives in heavily hit Ashdod, wrote on her Facebook timeline.

Merson couldn’t have chosen a more apt song.

The Jewish performer Matisyahu wrote his 2009 One Day to highlight the “humanity we all share” and voice the desire for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

“It’s like a basic anthem for peace and for people coming together from different religions and backgrounds to try and see eye to eye on,” Matisyahu says on a YouTube video explaining the song.

The chorus lyrics read: “All my life I’ve been waiting for/I’ve been praying for/For the people to say/That we don’t wanna fight no more/There will be no more wars/And our children will play/One day.”

In Merson’s version, her voice is overlaid with video images of rockets exploding in Ashdod and real-time images of her boyfriend’s family racing downstairs to the bomb shelter.

The Florida native arrived in Israel last year to volunteer and teach English with Destination Israel (Oranim). She wrapped up that gig in June. In the meantime, she also tried out for the Israeli TV singing competition The Voice and successfully passed the audition rounds. You could also say she passed the audition rounds for being an Israeli – having to survive the reality of ducking Hamas terror attacks on a daily basis.

Speaking to The Times of Israel, Merson said she had a mini panic attack every time she heard the siren (which is a few times a day) at the beginning of the Hamas escalation. She wanted to help her family and friends back in the US understand what living in Israel under attack is all about and how the international media is missing the story.

“I was seeing so many anti-Israel comments and so much misinformation on social media, and it made me want to do something. I was mad, so I made the video,” the 22-year-old said.

Israelis are going to see a lot more of Merson once The Voice kicks off on television (it has hit delays because of Operation Protective Edge). If she wins, the world may get to hear her voice again, too.

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About Viva Sarah Press

Viva Sarah Press is an associate editor and writer at ISRAEL21c. She has extensive experience in reporting/editing in the print, online and broadcast fields. Her work has been published by international media outlets including Israel Television, CNN, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post and Time Out.