Israeli singer Meir Banai dies at 55

(JTA) — Israeli singer Meir Banai died at 55 after a long battle with cancer.

The guitarist behind some of Israel’s biggest pop hits in recent decades died Thursday night, Hebrew-language media reported.

Over a career that began in 1982, Banai released 10 albums. His final studio album, “Shma Koli,” released in 2007, was noted for including spiritual and religious themes. His biggest hit was the song “Geshem” (Hebrew for rain) from his 1987 album of the same name.

Banai was part of one of Israel’s most prominent entertainment business families. His sister Orna is a comedian and actress, and his brother Eviatar and cousins Yuval and Ehud are fellow musicians. He is well-known for his musical collaborations with members of his family and other well-known Jewish musicians.

“Maybe it’s his voice that thrills the heart, maybe it’s the devotion in his songs, but every time I heard his songs, I connected, and my soul was swept up by the tunes to places that only music can bring you to,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said on Facebook.

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