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Music, Marching, and Peace

by Melissa Yeaw

“The walls of fear will some day melt / And I will return from exile / My gates shall open / To what is truly good.” From “Prayer of the Mothers”

“These days will be remembered as the biggest shift that humankind has known for the last thousands of years,” Yael Deckelbaum, lead singer of the Prayer of the Mothers Ensemble, claims. Those are some lofty words, to be sure, but they are not spoken lightly. Deckelbaum herself is pushing that shift, with her music and her philosophy and her marching. It’s all part of the global shift in consciousness that is happening here, in Israel, in Liberia, in Spain, in Switzerland, in Brazil, in Italy, to name just a few countries. Women are marching. Everywhere.

Deckelbaum has marched with them all, globally, (even here in Washington!), and her music emerges from the marching. Her “project” comes to Payomet from Israel to share that music, the “New Age Folk” as she calls it. It’s a combination of a deep tradition of American folk with influences cited by Deckelbaum that include Joni Mitchell and Pete Seeger, and all of the Woodstock musicians, peppered with rock, Arabic, African, Jewish, Irish, and even a little roots reggae. The band sings in Hebrew, Arabic, and English. In Israel, Yael and the Prayer of the Mothers Ensemble number 12 musicians; in this country there will be six women on stage. There are three guitars, two different percussionists, and four singers. Deckelbaum’s voice is clear and commanding, a little haunting, a little fierce, and somehow comforting. Many times it is accompanied by many other voices. Women’s voices. It’s strong and beautiful and engaging, and Deckelbaum is charismatic and compelling.

She comes by it honestly. Her father, who was Canadian, played the banjo in a band in Israel, and Deckelbaum began singing with him when she was three. An award-winning musician in her country, she has performed with the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, won a national contest for the best young singer-songwriter in Israel, had a number one hit with her band Habanot Nechama (which roughly translates to “The Comfort Girls”), and she has three solo albums out and an EP with the Ensemble. Three of her songs have been featured on The L Word, as well.

But when you talk to Yael, she doesn’t want to talk about the music. It’s the message that she is so concerned about. “I see music as an instrument of change because it touches our hearts and our consciousness and because it reminds us what is real.” She calls herself a “musical activist.” In her band there are religious women, Arabic women, Israeli women, Palestinian women, and secular women. It’s the uniting that matters, “building bridges between the divided pieces and broken parts of our society,” says Deckelbaum.

For her, it started when she heard about the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace. Women in Liberia were so tired of the violence, they had a peaceful strike. They prayed and sang, and stopped collaborating, stopped cooking, they even stopped having sex, according to Deckelbaum. And it worked! The fighting ceased and Liberia now has a woman president, the first African nation to be led by a female.

Three months before our own historic 2017 march on Washington, on October 13, 2016, a group called Women Wage Peace organized a two-week March of Hope from the north of Israel to the south, going through Jerusalem and ending at the Dead Sea, geographically the lowest place on Earth. Three thousand Israeli women joined one thousand Palestinian women for this historic, unifying march. (You can see footage in the video “Prayer of the Mothers” on YouTube. It’s magnificent and really worth checking out!) Deckelbaum talks specifically about the importance of creating “balance” in the world, not just equal rights for women, but more a total shift in consciousness, where the survival-of-the-fittest, competition-based mentality is uprooted, replaced by the more female quality of “putting ourselves aside for the better good” and “creating a world that has more compassion, that we take care of each other, brothers and sisters,” and that women are uniquely made for this, as it is “built in our bodies as mothers.” Deckelbaum sees this progression as a natural evolution of humans as a species, and truly the only way we can survive the current threat to our environment and the constant threat of war. “Let us use our wisdom in order to create planes that can distribute food instead of planes to distribute bombs,” she says.

This marching is global, and Yael Deckelbaum continues to spread her global message. Men are invited to join the march, and they do. Fifteen percent of Women Wage Peace are men. It’s not about men, but more about the balance between the sexes and the female contribution as a species. Deckelbaum’s music is inclusive, celebratory, beautiful.

Yael Deckelbaum & Prayers of the Mothers Ensemble will perform at Payomet Performing Arts Center, 29 Old Dewline Rd., North Truro on Sunday July 8 at 8 p.m. For tickets ($25 – $45) and information, go to the box office four hours before any show, call 508.487.5400, or visit For more information about the band, visit

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Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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