Naomi Shemer

This Israeli songwriter is famous for lyrics of such songs as "Jerusalem of Gold" and "Lu Yehi"

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Shemer insisted that Nathan sing "Jerusalem of Gold" with guitar rather than with orchestral accompaniment. After the prizes were awarded the audience stood up, demanding to hear the song again. The second time, the entire audience joined in the refrain. Three weeks later the Six Day War broke out, and Jerusalem was reunited.

The paratroopers who liberated the city sang the song on the Temple Mount and by the Western Wall. After the war, Shemer added another verse beginning "We have returned to the wells." When she sang the new version for the paratroopers and they applauded her, she told them: "Actually I should be applauding you, since it is much easier to change a song than to change a city."

Since the first time "Jerusalem of Gold" was performed at the Song Festival it has been considered the best-loved Israeli song of all time. (It later won first place in the "Hit of the Hits" parade of 1998, the year of Israel's fiftieth anniversary, and was chosen as the Jubilee song.) All the Songs of Naomi Shemer was published at the end of 1976.

Other Prominent Songs

The years after the Six Day War were all marked by Shemer's songs.

When the Yom Kippur War broke out in 1973, it was Shemer's song "Lu Yehi" ("May It Be") that best expressed the feelings of both the battlefront and the home front. The words were written at the request of the singer Hava Alberstein to the melody of the Beatles' song "Let It Be." However, the Hebrew version is not a translation but a version that reflects the mood and the distress of that difficult time.

In 1979, when her sister Ruti was widowed, Shemer wrote "Of Sting and Honey" for her as a song of encouragement. Yossi Banai sang it on a television program and included it in his one-man show, "Simon, Little Moïse and I." Thus, with Banai's help, the private prayer Shemer had written became the prayer of many, and the line "Do not uproot what has been planted" received political significance when it became the motto of those who opposed the evacuation of Yamit.

Shemer was awarded the Israel Prize in 1983.

Naomi Shemer's GraveFinal Years

During the 1990s a decline in Shemer's health affected her writing, but every new song she wrote received a warm welcome.

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Nathan Shahar first achieved fame as a composer, choir conductor and musical director of various radio and television broadcasts. The main area of his musicological research is the musical and social-musical aspects of Hebrew song: a topic on which he has published a series of articles in Israel and abroad. Shahar has taught for many years both at Bet Berl College and also at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.