Naomi Shemer: The first lady of Israeli song and poetry – Israel in Translation


Sometimes the boundaries between poetry and song are blurred, especially in Hebrew, where the word for song and for poem is the same: Shir. Today we explore the work of poet and songwriter Naomi Shemer, who won the Israel Prize in 1983 in for her Hebrew songs.

Shemer was born on the shores of the Sea of Galilee in Kibbutz Kvutzat Kinneret, which her parents helped to found. Her song ‘Over All These Things’ thanks God for “the honey and for the sting,” and for all things joyful and difficult, bitter and sweet, that make up the life of an Israeli.

Perhaps her best-known work is the 1967 song ‘Jeruslaem of Gold,’ which became the unofficial second anthem of Israel after the Six-Day War and the reunification of Jerusalem. You might also remember it as the song that plays at the end of the film Schindler’s List.

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‘Jerusalem of Gold,’ translated by Chaya Galai. 

Ishtar – The Eucalyptus Grove
Yossi Banai – Over All These Things
Shuli Nata – Jerusalem Of Gold
Ofra Haza – Jerusalem Of Gold


Photo by Yael Rozen.

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