Orthodox singer Ishay Ribo first Israeli to star solo at Madison Square Garden

“I’ve pinched myself more than once to check if I was dreaming or it’s really going to happen,” said the popular singer/songwriter.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Ishay Ribo announced Monday that he will be headlining a show at New York’s Madison Square Garden (MSG), becoming the first Israeli to star in one of the most famous venues in the world.

“I’ve been keeping this inside for a long time, and I’ve pinched myself more than once to check if I was dreaming or if it’s really going to happen,” Ribo posted to his Facebook account about the September 3rd event.

“I never dreamed that I’d ever appear in Madison [Square Garden], the place where only huge international stars appear, and think that I’d get to play and sing my songs there, along with the liturgical poetry and tunes of the days of Selichot, with my talented friends!”

The concert is scheduled for the middle of the Hebrew month of Elul, when Selichot, special penitential prayers, are said in anticipation of the High Holy Days.

Ribo‘s lyrics, full of faith in God, and catchy pop music tunes have seemingly struck a wide chord in Israel, as he is one of very few performers whose songs are loved by both the religious and the secular sectors. Several of his works have topped the charts on radio stations that cater to very different publics, with Sibat HaSibot (Cause of Causes) being the most-played song in the country in 2021.

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Four of his five albums have gone gold (15,000 copies sold), a fact made even more remarkable when knowing that he had to break into the music scene alone, self-releasing his initial album in 2014.

Ribo is an immigrant success story, as the French-born singer moved to the Jerusalem-area village of Kfar Adumim when he was eight years old.

The knitted skullcap-kipa clad singer gave his “eternal thanks” to all his supporters, family, friends and fans for enabling him to reach this pinnacle in his career. He also expressed gratitude to World Bnei Akiva, the religious Zionist youth movement that is sponsoring his show, and to God, because “I have no doubt that everything, but everything…is simply a miraculous process that goes against all my logic.”

While the legendary Shlomo Artzi appeared in MSG in 2017, he performed in a smaller theater in the complex. Other Israeli singers have gone on the main stage, but as part of other shows or as warm-up acts.

Gene Simmons, co-lead singer for KISS, appeared with the famous American rock band as well at MSG. Although born in Haifa, Simmons – whose original name is Chaim Witz – left as a child and grew up in New York.