Wilco singer Jeff Tweedy offers Jewish prayer for healing amid Israel-Hamas war


((JR)) — The Israel-Hamas war has elicited a chorus of celebrity responses, from Bono’s in-concert callout to Pete Davidson’s somber monologue on “Saturday Night Live.” Now one Grammy-winning songwriter and his wife have offered a Hebrew prayer for healing.

Susan Tweedy posted a video to Instagram on Oct. 10 of her husband Jeff Tweedy, frontman of the beloved rock band Wilco since 1994, strumming his guitar in his yard as his sons sing “Mi Shebeirach.” The Jewish prayer for physical and spiritual healing was popularized as a folk tune by Jewish musician Debbie Friedman, who wrote her Hebrew-English version in 1987 as the AIDS crisis ravaged gay communities.

In the video, which Susan noted in a comment was recorded “a while ago,” 27-year-old Spencer Tweedy and 23-year-old Sammy Tweedy take vocals. The song asks for the blessing of “r’fuah sh’leimah” (“complete healing”) and “the renewal of body, the renewal of spirit.”

The most recent photo on Sammy’s Instagram page, posted Sept. 30, indicated that he was in Israel. His Instagram bio suggests that he lives between Chicago and Tel Aviv.

Sammy has been vocal about the conflict on his account on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. On Oct. 14, he wrote: “Cutting anyone and everyone out of my life who supported or celebrated the attacks on Saturday, who mocks Jews in our time of pain. Your hatred deserves no place in our lives.”

Jeff Tweedy, whose wife is Jewish, converted to Judaism in 2013. At the time, Sammy was struggling to study for his bar mitzvah and begging to stay home from Hebrew school. So Jeff proposed a deal: They would attend temple every week together, and while Sammy worked on his Torah portion, his father would study to convert.

“[I]t seemed to work. He ended up getting bar mitzvahed and I ended up converting,” Tweedy told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 2019.

The Wilco singer and guitarist, who has released over 20 studio albums through his various bands and projects, also sang at both of his sons’ bar mitzvahs. He even brought the legendary gospel singer Mavis Staples on stage for Sammy’s ceremony.

Tweedy has collaborated with his sons for years. In 2020, while the family quarantined together in Chicago, he released the solo album “Love Is the King” with contributions from Spencer and Sammy. The trio also live-streamed their jam sessions at home on Instagram, calling these evenings “The Tweedy Show.”