Canadian Evan Malach overcame a few technical difficulties at the beginning of his performance to walk away with the first prize at the final of the global Jewish singing competition “Hallelujah” on Saturday evening.
The live final, held in Ramat Hasharon, was the culmination of a song contest that saw 29 Jews aged 18 to 30 from around the world come to Israel to connect to their Jewish roots though Hebrew songs.
Malach, 27, was overcome with emotion upon receiving the news that he had won the contest with his rendition of Ehud Banai’s “K’nani Blues.” He walked away with an $8,000 cash prize.
The charismatic Canadian was also awarded the opportunity to record a duet with Dudu Fisher, which will be released as a single in Israel and on global Jewish radio stations. As if that wasn’t enough, Malach will travel to Jewish communities around the world to perform.
The team of judges, headed by veteran singer Yehoram Gaon, said it was a difficult decision to make but agreed that Malach deserved to win. Courtney Simmons from the US came in second place.
The 23-year-old, whose family cheered her on from the crowd wearing matching T-shirts, won a cash prize of $4,000. Russia’s Polina Zizak, 18, came in at third place and walked away with $2,000.
Some 1,000 people attended the impressive live show in Ramat Hasharon’s Ussishkin Square, with Sport and Culture Minister Limor Livnat and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz in attendance. During a half-time break in performances, Steinitz took to the stage and joked about budget issues, but highlighted the importance of the singing competition and vowed to make sure that money would be available for similar events in the future.
Steinitz showed his support for the competition by saying “Hallelujah is Zionism and pure pleasure.”
“Hebrew song is the most beautiful, powerful and essential part of renewed Jewish culture. There is nothing more important than an evening like this that connects the Diaspora to Israel,” the finance minister told the crowd.
Livnat also addressed the crowd: “The State of Israel was established as kibbutz galuyot – [the in-gathering of the exiles].
Hallelujah represents the kibbutz galuyot of young singers. This is Zionism itself.”
The 14 finalists all gave emotional performances of personally selected Hebrew songs. Last year’s winner Mexican singer Adam Kleinberg, who recently made aliya, wrapped up the proceedings with a cover of Meir Banai’s classic “Geshem.”
Shalom! My name is Evan Malach from Toronto Canada. I am an emerging singer/songwriter with a great love of Israel, the Hebrew language and the Jewish people. In fact, my musical alias is Stone/Angel because in Hebrew, “Evan” means “Stone” and “Malach” means “Angel” Since 2010, I have recorded and released two albums that are doing quite well in Canada. My goal is to record a third album of original spiritual music in Israel with the most talented musicians there. I also hope to one day stage my original rock musical “sInagogue- The Shul of Rock” in Israel.