Former “American Idol” contestant Brett Loewenstern, who competed on the reality competition show back in 2011, made aliyah last week and plans to join the IDF. Loewenstern first fell in love with Israel back in 2012 while on a Taglit-Birthright trip.

Loewenstern said that after he moves to Israel, he will join an IDF military band after he officially enlists in the IDF.

When Loewenstern arrived on a Nefesh B’Nefesh aliyah agency charter flight to Israel on February 17, he was greeted by reporters and television crews who awaited his arrival, and the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aronoth reported on this event with the headline, “He’s a star.”

“I came off the plane holding a giant teddy bear in my hand, which I use as a pillow,” Loewenstern told the Times of Israel.
“All of a sudden a TV crew runs up asking to interview me, and my phone rings from a reporter with the IDF magazine,” he said. Loewenstern called the experience “humbling.”

Israel’s Guy Pines entertainment TV show referred to Loewenstern as “the ginger Jew from ‘Idol,’” a characterization that Loewenstern finds especially funny.

While on “American Idol,” Loewenstern made to the top 24, but was eliminated after singing “Light My Fire”. After Idol, Loewenstern attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he majored in performance and songwriting. Loewenstern has performed “HaTikvah,” the national anthem of Israel, and many other Israeli songs at Jewish community events, and has partnered with Israeli composer Matti Kolver on various projects.

His Birthright trip was a turning point since it was “the first time I felt true inner peace,” and “after Birthright, I could not stop coming back [to Israel],” said Loewenstern.

“Israel to me represents all that my ancestors fought to keep. This is something for all of us, and I am proud to be here doing something I think my ancestors would have been proud of….As Jews, we come from different countries and backgrounds and cultures. I made aliyah to feel connected to other Jews from around the world, and to build more bridges between Israel and Diaspora Jews, who are so separated now,” he added.