There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Israeli singer Zehava Ben loves her country and keeps the Sabbath, but her principal musical inspiration is the late great Egyptian singer Umm Kalthum, whose songs are more popular on the other side of the checkpoints that divide Israel from the West Bank. Reportedly, Ben’s Israeli following has grown since 1995, when director Erez Laufer began shooting Zehava BenThe Solitary Star. In this lively, engaging documentary, the Moroccan-born Ben laments that she’s more popular in the Arab worldand in Francethan at home. During the period documented in Laufer’s 1997 film, Ben’s hopes for bridging the gulf between Israelis and Palestinians (including her support for a left-wing political party) are dashed by the breakdown of the peace process. But whenever Ben begins to sing, her remarkable voice unites her listeners. It would be heresy to say Ben rivals Kalthum, but she’s a worthy acolyte. The film screens in conjunction with the Washington Jewish Music Festival at 3 p.m. at the District of Columbia Jewish Community Center’s Goldman Theater, 1529 16th St. NW. $9. (202) 777-3254. (Mark Jenkins)