Sunday, April 4, 2010

Only in Israel

When did shirim Ivri'im become shirim Ivri'im? By which I mean, when did they take on the significant role they eventually acquired? I'm not certain - and anyway, there are a number of roles, and each has its own time-line. Take our shir of the day, Rak BaYisrael (Only in Israel). It was written and recorded in 1968, I think. The lyrics are by Ehud Manor (we'll be hearing quite a bit about him), the melody is by Nurit Hirsh, and the recording is by the Navy Band. Personally, I wouldn't put it particularly high on my list of preferences, though it's definitely cute. It doesn't fit in the coping-with-bereavement strand of shirim: it's a goofy song, nor in the love-of-the-land strand (ditto). I'm posting it because Alex Stein requested it, and there-in lies a tale, I think.

Alex is an Israeli who wrote a blog for a while as he wandered around India. in his late 20's, he's quite a bit younger than I. From his occasional comments on this blog he comes off as considerably to my political left. I haven't read much of his blog, but I expect he's secular, and lives in or around Tel Aviv. (He'll correct me where I'm wrong). And yet, no sooner had I announced this project of posting shirim, but he requested this particular one. It was written long before he was born, it can't much relate to his day-to-day life because it's so hopelessly anachronistic, yet he and I both immediately recognized it and hummed it to ourselves.

So this particular shir is an example of the broader these-are-the-songs-all-Israelis-recognize category. The broad category that goes part of the way to define the cultural baggage that automatically goes into being an Israeli, no matter who they are. (Probably including the Haredi, and likely including even the Arabs).

Words: (follow the link, since they've only put up a picture of the words).


Michael W. said...

Does anyone know a website about Israeli music? I want to rehear music I heard as a kid when I lived in Israel.

Anonymous said...


This series has been terrific and this song, which I had not known, is a real scream. The video has its own charm, which I almost missed because I was reading the words in another window.

If you keep this up, you may find yourself with a much wider readership.

David E. Sigeti

Anonymous said...


Youtube has a thousands of Hebrew songs. Just go to and enter the song name in the search box in Hebrew or Latin characters. If you cannot type Hebrew on your computer, just go with the Latin -- it is likely to give at least one hit with the title in Hebrew characters. Then, just cut and paste the Hebrew characters in the search box to get more hits.

The Israel Broadcasting Authority has a show called "Kach Haya" which is, as near as I can tell with my pidgin Hebrew, a music nostalgia program. Many of the older Hebrew song videos on Youtube are from Kach Haya, as you can tell by the logo in one of the corners.

You can find recent IBA shows at this URL:

There are a couple of episodes of Kach Haya up right now, including a Pesach special. Shows typically stay posted for a couple of weeks or so.

David E. Sigeti

liamalpha said...

Guyal11 channel's on Youtube is one of the best places to look for old Hebrew & Israeli songs:

Michael W. said...

Thanks for the suggestions.

Gavin said...

Well I hope Alex's views have evolved since he wrote his blog. I did the backbacking thing thru India, been to most of the places he mentions, and I came away with an entirely different picture of India to him.

I can't believe Israelis are still going to Kashmir. That pleace is far more dangerous than appearances suggest, the much vaunted hospitality only extends to the doorway on occasion. They're a desperate people. I got the hell out of there once I figured the place out.


Bryan said...

This song put a great big smile on my face (mostly the tune; also the fact that I correctly identified more than 5 Hebrew words). Thanks Yaacov.

Alex Stein said...

Gavin - on the contrary, I set up a Jewish-Kashmiri dialogue group. A shame you think Kashmir is dangerous - if you wanted to visit I could arrange some home hospitality for you.

Gavin said...

No thanks Alex. I've tasted Kashmiri hospitality, I have no desire to sample any more of it. You obviously did whatever they wanted you to do & handed over wads of rupees. If you'd manned up you might have come back with a real picture.