Friday, July 02, 2004

Liat Ben David mourns Naomi Shemer (from the Jewish Agency site)

Last night, when I heard that Naomi Shemer had died, I felt as if music itself had died. What hasn't she given us? Her songs are the melodies of everything we know and hold dear:

The joy of our childhood songs - "We went on a hike/ and found an anemone/ on the grass-filled hill/ in the west", a childhood filled with simple, naive symbols: "The mail has arrived today/ in a red car/ and it brought me a letter/ a letter with a stamp".

The bitter-sweet longing of the songs that lovers sing - "The wind, the darkness and the water/ told me that you walked here barefoot", and "On the path, in the field/ a couple is walking alone/ and her hand is held in his/ as a blessing of Shalom".

The beauty of our country - "The daffodils are blooming in the nature reservations/ fields of flowers are blossoming along the shores"

The special culture we are building here, filled with colors of different voices - "So eat and drink, and enjoy the wine/ today you are young, tomorrow you will be old..."

Her songs are filled with our reality - "In our garden, every summer/ guests come from all over the world/ and each one of them has his own language/ and his own way to say "shalom" - and her spirit has given us the great songs that have become the milestones of our most challenging times, with the compassion of "all that we shall ask - let it be", the sensitivity of "Over all these/ please keep guard/ my dear lord", and the greatest prayer of all, the immortal "Jerusalem of gold".

So much longing, happiness, joy and and pure love Naomi Shemer has introduced into our lives. She has written the soundtrack of our modern history. She was the undefeated queen of Israel's best poetic yearning. She has left us with a legacy that will continue to be part of the core of our identity for many generations to come. She will be gravely missed, and today we are all mourning. But tomorrow - tomorrow we will take comfort in the legacy she has left behind - as she has told us in her own words:

"To wake up tomorrow morning
with a new song in our heart
to sing it with all our might,
to sing it with pain,
to hear the flutes playing in the free wind -
and to start all over again."

Liat Ben David