Max Gottlieb is an aspiring singer-guitarist-songwriter from Philadelphia. In eighth grade he started playing music, and realised that he wanted to do it for the rest of his life. When it came time to come to Israel on a Masa program, Max thought he would be taking a break from his guitar – but that’s not what happened…
So, what made you decide to come to Israel?
In my last year of school, I was totally set on going straight to university and studying music. I went through the entire audition process, and practiced so hard that I got tendonitis in my wrist. I knew I wasn’t ready for music at university, and I didn’t know what to do. But then I heard about Aardvark.
I was curious, and I decided to give it a go. When I first arrived I was just excited to be in a new country. Now I’ve totally fallen in love with Israel. Before I came here I don’t know if I would have put it on my itinerary - but it's starting to feel more and more like home.
What effect has Israel had on your musical journey?
I thought that coming to Israel would be a nice break from my music - but it’s been just the opposite. Aardvark is a program that gives us a lot of independence. I’ve had the opportunity to go out and meet some incredible people, and get a feeling for music again. One of my best friends here is a dancer. She convinced me that I didn’t want to live a life of regrets, and that I shouldn’t give up on being a musician.
Thanks to that mixture of independence and the direction I got from the people around me, I’ve come back to music. I’ve got a lot of the confidence back that I had lost – coming back to music now seems so natural.
What’s the best part of living here?
Israel is really one big community. I find it amazing how much people trust each other here. I was in Jerusalem, waiting at bus stop. Some kid came up to me, told me he didn’t have a ticket, and asked for my help. The fact that he had the confidence to ask a total stranger for help really impressed me. People are so comfortable with one another here. It creates a sense of community that’s really special and I love that.
You just put out a music video set on the top of Masada. Tell us how that happened.
Some friends and I decided to start making music videos, but we wanted to make them a bit different. So, we started filming them with some incredible Israeli scenery as our backdrops. My program was going on a trip to Masada, so of course I had to do a video there. We hiked all the way up the mountain with the guitar, and got some funny looks. Standing on top of Masada inspired the song choice – Stand By Me by Ben E. King.