Published: May 1, 2010
The journey of singer-songwriter
Zacharia is filled with twists and turns and stunning surprises.
Born in Toronto, Zach
was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer known as "Burkitts Lymphoma"
at the age of 11. While enduring six months of intense chemotherapy,
Zach was visited by the Starlight Foundation, which offered him one
wish for anything he desired. To the surprise of everyone, Zach asked
for a guitar, amp and lessons. “My sister was probably hoping I’d
ask for a Disney cruise,” says Zach.
|Eli and Zack|
Flash forward 15 years
to 2009. Zach had been on a spiritual journey which led him to Aish
HaTorah in Jerusalem. One day he was attending a presentation by New
York musician/producer Eli Schwebel. “I was talking and playing some
songs, and one of the students – Zach – asked if he could use my
guitar for a minute,” Schwebel recalls. “He started to play the
most incredible song, with a beautiful voice and an amazing soulful
style. I was blown away and I asked him, ‘Whose song is that?’ He
looked up and I said, ‘It’s my song. It’s called Beautiful Mystery’.”
Schwebel sprung into
action and booked a recording studio for the next day. In the course
of the next two years, criss-crossing two continents and three countries,
Zach wrote and recorded the 12 tracks encompassing his debut album,
aptly titled "Beautiful Mystery."
Zach’s style is intimate, reminiscent of James Taylor, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon. Though his inspiration often comes from classical Jewish sources, the themes are universal.
“The typical partying
themes are really boring for me,” says Zach. “With everything I’ve
been through in life, and with the deeper thinking that Torah study
has provided, my songs are more introspective.”
Like poetry, Zach’s
lyrics are open to interpretation and can apply the message to your
own situation in life. “I enjoy word plays, and using subtle devices
to describe a mood,” he says. “My music is for people who want to
Coming full circle, Zach
is now releasing the album under the sponsorship of the same organizations
that set him on this course: the Starlight Foundation and Aish HaTorah.
"Aish took me beyond
the surface of Jewish ritual and gave me the opportunity to taste the
full beauty and power of Judaism. And even more, they gave me the support
and space I needed to set my own pace and make my own choice.”
This year marks another
milestone in Zach’s young life: Now 16 years cancer free, he will
be getting married in June to a young woman he met at Aish Toronto.