The Israeli culture has music intertwined in it wherever you look (or listen). Whether it is a happy occasion like a holiday or a sad occasion like Yom Hazikaron (Israeli Memorial Day), Israel has an appropriate song for it. The joke is that you can tell what day it is in Israel according to the songs on the radio. Music is often used as a means to pass on a message, whether it is hidden or not, and Israeli music is no different. Here are some Israeli songs with a message you wouldn’t think existed and the stories behind them:
Chai (Alive) – Ofra Haza
The 1983 Eurovision (an annual international songwriting contest) was held in Munich, Germany. When Ehud Manor (an Israeli songwriter) heard about the contest, he wrote the Song Chai (which means alive) as defiance to the Germans. The song was sung in the Eurovision by Ofra Haza (a very famous Israeli singer who died in February 2000) and came in second place. The song mostly talks about how the Jewish people, and Israel are still alive.
Perach (Flower) – Yehuda Poliker
Perach was written by Tzuria Lahav after an Egyptian soldier shot a group of Israeli travelers in Ras Burqa, a beach resort area in the Sinai Peninsula. Seven travelers died, among them were four children. Tzuria’s own daughter died in a car accident a few years earlier. You will most likely hear this song during Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel.
Waltz lehagant vtzomeach (Waltz to protect nature) – Naomi Shemer
This very cheerful song, using a waltz rhythm, paints a pretty picture of Israeli nature in the midst of its blooming seas of green grass and colorful flowers everywhere. The song is very relaxed and makes you feel at ease. The key message from the song is to take care of and keep nature as it is including not picking flowers or hurting animals. This song was written in the 1970’s after female IDF soldiers complained about sexual harassment in the army that goes unnoticed. Naomi Shemer said that it makes no sense to take such good care of nature and leaving our women on their own.
Abanibi – Yzhar Cohen
This song was originally written by Ehud Manor with Nurit Hirch for a children songs festival, but because they missed the deadline, they sent it to the pre-Eurovision contest. The song is written in the “Bet language” (B language) where you write the letter Beit before every letter in the word: Abanibi aboebev obotabach means – Ani Ohev Otach (I love you). Children used this language when they didn’t want their parents to understand them. The song won first place in the 1978 Eurovision contest in Paris.
Hope you enjoyed learning about the meaning behind the songs.
Until next time…