Sunday, June 17, 2018

Singing Naomi Shemer in Shiloh

Naomi Shemer, 1930 - 2004, was one of the greatest, if not the greatest Hebrew songwriters ever. Many of her songs are classics, including the iconic "Jerusalem of Gold," which has been proposed to replace Hatikva as the National Anthem of the State of Israel.

Well before my Hebrew was fluent, or even passable, I sang and danced to her songs. Unlike most modern music, Shemer's tunes are very easy to follow. And now that my Hebrew has improved over the decades, I can now appreciate the beauty of her Hebrew. That was one of the great unexpected bonuses from last night's Naomi Shemer Singalong, which I attended. For the first time I really looked at her lyrics and understood more than the superficial. Some are like prayers. She mentions Gd quite a bit, asking Him to intercede.

My first awareness that there was a composer-songwriter named Naomi Shemer was in 1967, when her song "Jerusalem of Gold" became an international hit. And a few years later, when I was an olah chadasha, new immigrant in Israel. we learned a few of her songs in ulpan, the Hebrew immersion course I took.

The Naomi Shemer Singalong was advertised as a 50+ social/cultural event, but it attracted younger neighbors, too. I suddenly noticed that among the attendees were neighbors who had taught my children Naomi Shemer songs, my children's classmates and my own former students.

We sang from modern versions of the "slides," from way back when.

אנשים טובים Anashim Tovim, Good People
I was surprised to discover that a song I used to dance to in New York, מחר Machar, Tomorrow is a Naomi Shemer song. It's one of the dances I remember dancing down Fifth Avenue at a Salute to Israel Parade.

There's no doubt in my mind that Naomi Shemer's songs are far superior in every way to modern music. Last night as I sang along with my neighbors, I really wanted to dance, too.


Mr. Cohen said...

Most people do not remember that the Jewish Temple
in Jerusalem was a place not only of sacrifices,
but also of songs.

The Levites sang songs from Sefer Tehillim.
They also played musical instruments in the Temple.

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Batya said...