Entries tagged with “Israel Independence Day”.

This is the week of the Independence day or in other words of the birthday of Israel according to the Jewish calendar. I decided to offer each day this week on my Facebook wall and in a few Facebook groups a short presentation and some music played by Israeli jazz musicians. While researching on youTube for this purpose I found a few variations on the theme of the national anthem ‘HaTikhvah’ (‘The Hope’). I dedicated an article a few years back to this topic, now I am adding some new versions added on youTube in the last few years and one classic that I discovered. I must confess that I am some kind of a fan of this niche genre. This started more than 45 years ago when I listened to Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Star Spangled Banner’ played live at Woodstock. I deeply believe that anthems are not dead songs, they are precious to many people, and they should not be played only by military bands.


(video source OliveJazz31)


The first interpretation belongs to pianist Yaron Herman, whom I presented yesterday on Facebook. Yaron lives in Paris and his ‘HaTikhvah here was played together with saxophonist and composer Emile Parisien at the Maison de la Radio in Paris on September 25, 2012 and broadcasted on France Musique Radio the same day.


(video source Zamir Daniel)


The next one belongs to saxophonist Daniel Zamir and mixes hip-hop and jazz.


(video source illanIRISH)


US-born Lazer Lloyd is a fine guitarist. He now lives in Israel and plays great music – mostly blues. Here is his version of the anthem.


(video source jaywilton)


Eugene Marlow’s The Heritage Ensemble is a contemporary world music quintet that records and performs mostly Eugene Marlow’s original compositions and arrangements of Hebraic melodies in various  jazz, Afro-Caribbean, Brazilian, and classical styles. This beautiful jazz interpretation of ‘Hatikva’ is taken from the album ”Making the Music Our Own’(2006) with Eugene Marlow(p), Darmon Meader (alto and soprano sax), Norm Lotz(b), Gary Schwartzman(g), Barry Altshul(d)


(video source LES GLASSMAN)


Here is how HaTikhvah sounds on the streets of Jerusalem played by organist Isaac Kissel.


(video source AntinousIsGod1)


Here the ‘classic’. You may remember the name Al Jolson  for his leading role in the first (full length) talking movie ever made, ‘The Jazz Singer’, released in 1927. He is considered the “first openly Jewish man to become an entertainment star in America”. His career lasted from 1911 until his death in 1950, during which time he was commonly dubbed “the world’s greatest entertainer”. According to the St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, “Jolson was to jazz, blues, and ragtime what Elvis Presley was to rock ‘n’ roll”. Here is his rendition of HaTikhvah sang with a beautiful Ashkenazi intonation.



source https://www.1stdibs.com/art/prints-works-on-paper/salvador-dali-hatikvah/id-a_113778/

source https://www.1stdibs.com/art/prints-works-on-paper/salvador-dali-hatikvah/id-a_113778/


I am adding to this collection of musical pieces the lithography that Salvador Dali dedicated to HaTikhvah – plate 16 of his series “ALIYAH, THE REBIRTH OF ISRAEL”. The series were commissioned by Samuel Shore, the head of Shorewood Publishers in 1968, for the 20th anniversary of the Independence Day. They were presented in the comprehensive exhibition of Dali’s works which was exposed in Haifa a few years ago.


Happy Birthday, Israel!


Jewish artists played an important role in the development of the Romanian art, and artists from Romania played an important role in the history of Israeli art. For the Israeli Independence Day I chose to present a short selection of Israeli artists (painters and sculptors) who were born in my native Romania. Some have brought an important contribution to the development of the Israeli artistic movement and acquired fame both in Israel and world-wide. A few are still active today, and of course, I must have missed many.

I chose one work from each of the eight artists in this list. This is certainly only a specific section of the complex universe of the Israeli art, a proof of its diversity, and a testimony of the path artists born in Romania melded the education and traditions of their native country into the melting pot of the Israeli art.  This is an invitation for entering the worlds of each of these artists and for adding more names to the list.

Happy Independence Day! Hag Atzmaut Sameakh!

The list cannot begin with another name than …


source http://jancodada.co.il/pages.asp?id=175&lan=100

source http://jancodada.co.il/pages.asp?id=175&lan=100


Marcel Janco

(or Marcel Iancu) as the Romanians spell his name. By the time when he reached the shores of Palestine under British Mandate in 1941, Janco was a well-known artist who has contributed to the birth of the European avant-garde and specifically of the Dadaist movement, and a famous architect with tens of buildings designed in Romania (some of them can still be visited in specialized tours in Bucharest). He also was a Jew running for his life from the continent that had fallen under fascism which did not spare Romania, at that time under the rule of the Iron Guard and of nationalist and antisemitic dictator Ion Antonescu. He re-created himself in Palestine and then Israel, started to paint in a new palette and vision, and founded the artists community in the village of Ein Hod, which continues until today.


source http://www.israelartguide.co.il/activities/tel.shtml

source http://www.israelartguide.co.il/activities/tel.shtml


Reuven Rubin

Born in Galati in a religious family, Rubin came for the first time to Palestine (still under Ottoman rule) in 1912 and was a student at the Bezalel Academy founded by Boris Schatz. He was not very happy with the academic approach of his teachers, and continued his studies in Paris, returned to Romania during the First World War, then came for good to Israel in 1923. His portraits and landscapes are exquisite, as witnessed by the beautiful ‘Safed’ dated 1938. He became part of the Tel Aviv intellectual and art circles, and after the foundation of Israel in 1948 was the first official Israeli diplomatic envoy (minister) to Romania.


source http://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/SELF-PORTRAIT/EA86709D73DF83D7

source http://www.mutualart.com/Artwork/SELF-PORTRAIT/EA86709D73DF83D7


Avigdor Arikha

I first encountered a large selection of Arikha’s works at the British Museum to whom he had donated about 100 of his works for an exhibition. A few years later a big retrospective was organized at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art bringing back into the center of the attention an Israeli artist who was living abroad for about half a century. Born in Radauti, he was deported during the war to Transnistria, where his father died. His drawings as a teen who had seen death and horror attracted the attention of the Red Cross that saved his life and brought him to Palestine in 1944. As Rubin (but many years later) he first studied at Bezalel, and then in Paris. His career can be divided into two: a first abstract period and a second figurative in which he painted mostly portraits and especially self-portraits like the one here.



Tuvia Juster

In a few days there will be ten years since Tuvia Juster passed away. Born in 1931 in Braila, Juster studied in Bucharest and was influenced by the works of Constantin Brancusi, one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. His work is in danger to be forgotten here in Israel. Only one exhibition was organized at Ein Hod, the artists village founded by Janco, where Tuvia Juster also had his home. A larger retrospective would put his works and contributions to the Israeli art at their right place. I hope that this will happen rather sooner than later.


source https://iamachild.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/portrait-of-a-smiling-boy.jpg

source https://iamachild.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/portrait-of-a-smiling-boy.jpg


Sandu Liberman

A few decades ago the name of Sandu Liberman was quite well known. Born in Iasi in 1923, he studied in Romania and was well known especially as portraitist, until 1962 when he came to Israel. He continued his activity here, painting portraits and scenes from the traditional Jewish life. His best works as this ‘Portrait of a Smiling Boy’ show empathy and skill in rendering the feelings of his subjects, and continuity with the portraits tradition in the Romanian art he grew in as an artist.


source http://www.judaica-mall.com/shlomo-alter.htm

source http://www.judaica-mall.com/shlomo-alter.htm


Shlomo Alter 

Shlomo Alter’s parents owned a restaurant in Romania and his first drawings described the atmosphere of that place. He came in Israel in 1948 at the age of 12, and oscillated between art (student of Aaron Avni and of Janco) and engineering, to dedicate himself completely to painting after 1975. His works are beautifully colored in the tradition of the fauvism, while representing the local landscape in a pseudo-naive manner.


 source http://www.midnighteast.com/mag/?p=6347

source http://www.midnighteast.com/mag/?p=6347

Philip Rantzer

Born in 1956 (in some sources I found 1958 as his year of birth) Philip Rantzer came to Israel as a small child, so all his education and formation as an artist happened here. He had tens of exhibitions in Israel and all over the world, represented Israel at the Venice Biennale in 1999, and exposed amng many other places in Bucharest, at the Musuem of Contemporary Art in 2003. I picked to show here his ‘Big Cart’ work because he is combining in it the theme of the Wandering Jew with a landscape which is maybe Jaffo, or maybe a more generic shtetl.



source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belu-Simion_Fainaru

source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belu-Simion_Fainaru



Belu-Simion Fainaru

Born in Bucharest in 1959, Belu-Simion Fainaru came to Israel in 1973. He studied at Haifa and continued with studies in art in Italy and Belgium. He lives and works in Belgium and Israel. His earlier work ‘Sham’ (‘There’) from 1966 represents one stage in the evolution from monumental sculpture to the mixed media objects. He exposed in Israel, Romania, other countries in Europe. In 2015 he founded AMOCA – the Arab Museum Of Contemporary Art in Sakhnin (an Arab town in Israel) the first of its kind here, promoting co-existence between Arab and Jewish communities, opening gates for art that is inclusive and collaborative.

For the Israel Independence Day this year I chose to present a cycle of works who have entered already the thesaurus of the Israeli and Zionist artistic mythology. Many of the visitors of the recent exhibition of the works of Salvador Dali in Haifa were surprised to see that one full wall was occupied by what seemed to be a real declaration of love for Israel and the Jewish people, while in the same room other paintings, statues, objects which looked very much like Judaica art completed the image.




There have been multiple discussions and interpretations concerning the history of this cycle of 25 prints published first in an edition of 250 copies in 1968. What was the real attitude of Salvador Dali towards the Jews, taking into account that contrary to many of his fellow artists in the surrealist generation he showed sympathy for Hitler and chose to stay and live in Franco’s Spain? Did he change his political views in time? Was he a descendant of the converted Jews keeping in secret his Jewish ascendance?  The answer is maybe simple, but we should avoid to make it simplistic. It’s a commissioned work, ordered and paid by the  Shorewood Publishing and Israel Bonds in 1968 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the State of Israel. And yet there is more than this, because the exploration of the Jewish theme seems to have extended in Dali’s work well beyond this commission. Yes, the market of the Judaica (Jewish traditional) art may have been a lucrative one among the prosperous collectors, many of Jewish origin. The works in this cycle and beyond have however feeling, sensitivity, and I may say a dose of respect which is somehow unexpected from the extravagant artist who did not hesitate to blow artistic and taste conventions.

Let us walk though a few of these works, and try to explain their meaning from the perspective of the Zionist angle. I have used some of the commentaries written by David Blumentahl at http://www.js.emory.edu/BLUMENTHAL/Salvador%20Dali%20Aliyah.htm (You can see there also all the drawings in the cycle)




A few of the first drawings in the cycle connect the reality of present Israel to the historical roots of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. One of these is ‘The Wailing Wall’ - the last reminiscent of the walls of the Second Temple, which is drawn by Dali from photos taken before the War of Independence (there is a large plaza today in front of the Wall, and men and women are not allowed to pray together, at least at this moment in time (there is a whole dispute regarding the enforcement of the Orthodox rules in this place raging today).




‘Out of the Depth’ takes its title from a verse in the Psalms “Out of the depths have I called unto you, O Lord.” It’s the name of the cantata by Bach and the phrase was used by Martin Buber for a small book of Psalms translated into German and published in Nazi Germany in 1936. The horror of the Holocaust is in the Zionist narrative the very foundation and the ultimate justification of the existence of the national home of the Jewish people.




‘On the Shores of Freedom’  shows one episode of the illegal immigration which in the years after the end of the second world war and the independence of Israel brought to Israel survivors of the Holocaust despite the blockade imposed by the British rulers over Palestine. The name of the ship can be clearly seen, it’s Elyahu Golomb which dates the episode described in the painting in the year 1946.




‘A Moment in History’ processes a famous photograph in which David Ben-Gurion reads the Declaration of Independence of the State of Israel, on May 15, 1948. Ben-Gurion wears a tie, it is said it was the only time in his life when he wore such a garment. He also seems to have a Dali mustache?




The exultation of the moment of the proclamation of the independence was immediately followed in the historical narrative by the fire of the War of Independence. This is the moment caught by Dali in ‘The Battle of the Jerusalem Hills’.




Victory and celebration are represented by Hatikvah, a visual representation of the national anthem of Israel. The words were written by the Jewish-Polish poet Naphtali Herz Imber during his stay in the Romanian city of Iasi in 1877, and the music is a transcription by Samuel Cohen of a tune popular in Eastern Europe in the second half of the 19th century. Cohen later recalled that he had heard first the tune in the Romanian variant – Carul cu boi [The Ox Driven Cart] (source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatikvah). The same tune inspired the opening of the very popular symphonic poem Vltava by the Czech composer Bedřich Smetana




Commission or not, Salvador Dali created a series of work which are among the best in the Jewish and national Israeli imagery. I will let Blumenthal speak again (source http://forward.com/articles/136676/dali-and-the-jews/):

As for the “Aliyah” series, Blumenthal concludes simply that it was a professionally executed commission, pointing out that some of the greatest artworks in history have been as much — compositions by Mozart and Bach and, this writer would add, paintings by Rafael, Rembrandt and others. “Part of the responsibility of a scholar is to say that this stuff, even if it’s commissioned, is serious,” Blumenthal said. Indeed, when one lets the art of “Aliyah” speak for itself, its bold expressionism and moving imagery answer the question on their own.

Hag Atzmaut Sameah! Happy Independence Day! Happy Birthday, Israel!


source http://www.embassyofisrael.co.uk/


These are maybe the most Israeli two days in the year. Memorial Day – the day we remember the soldiers fallen in the wars of Israel and the victims of the terror attacks against Israel precedes the celebration of Independence Day – the day of re-birth of the Jewish state.


source http://www.offshore-radio.de/one.htm


On all holidays I search the Internet for information connected one way or another with the holiday. For Independence Day this year I researched a little the history Israeli rock bands and I picked a few relevant names, sounds and images. The search itself was interesting, as I found out that while building again the country and the nation, young Israelis had time to listen to what happened on the musical scene in the world and created a local musical scene that was for the last few decades challenging and interesting, searching for the ways of expressing the problems and the emotions of the young and not so young generations here. I hope that you will enjoy what I found.


(video source spirtw72)

The Curchills were one of the first Israeli bands to play psychedelic and hard rock in the 60s and 70s, they played in English most of their songs and worked with local star Arik Einstein.


(video source Korozzz)


Sipurei Pogy (Pogy’s Stories) is a collection of songs by Kaveret a band which became popular in the 70s, combining catchy songs and humorist texts. It is said that one of their concerts was attended by half a million people at the time the whole population of Israel was three million. I am not sure where these half a million people gathered, but even as a story this is record-breaking.


(video source lahatuna)


Tamouz founded in 1976 were short-lived, but they had a huge hit Sof Onat HaTapuzim (End of the Oranges Season) and launched the solo careers of two popular singers Shalom Hanoch and Ariel Zilber.


(video source speedyjew42)


This recording of Mashina dates back from 1992, at the Arad festival, which used to gather the best Israeli bands and singers until a tragic accident in which several young people died led to its interruption.


(video source 1975clum)


Zikney Tzfat (The Elders of Safed) brought for the few years of their existence a wind of punk and grunge on the Israeli rock scene.


(video source EifoHayeled)


Another popular band of the same period was Eifo HaYeled (Where’s the Child).


(video source taikang)


Crossing into the new millenium Beit HaBubot (House of Dolls) is one of the bands which focuses on melody and is closer to mainstream.


(video source hadagnahashofficial)


Formed in the 90s HaDag Nahash (The Fish-Snake) is one of the most influential bands today, combining rock and hip-hop, and bringing in their recordings and concerts a strong social and political message.


(video source fistuker)


One of the most popular bands today is HaYehudim (The Jews) formed also in the 90s and the name of the song is HaZman Shelach (Your Time).


(video source tseder3)


Last but not least, here are Etnix which combine rock with Middle-Eastern sounds.

Happy Birthday, Israel!

As the Memorial Day draws to its end and Israel enters the celebrations of Independence Day, the national anthem ‘Hatikvah’ (The Hope) marks as each year the moment of passage. I do not hide, it may be the song I love most of all songs on Earth. As last year, and maybe starting some kind of a tradition of mine, I was looking for special or funny versions of the song to post on my blog, when a discussion started on a virtual list by Andre – one of these friends that I owe the Internet having known them – drew my attention.

source http://www.ortav.com/sunshop/index.php?l=product_detail&p=397

Andre was referring to the weekly show ‘Mekablim Shabat’ (Welcoming Sabbath) which is presented by anchor Dov Elboim each Friday evening on Channel One of Israeli TV. This show which usually invites each week a different guest from various fields of religious, social, cultural life to discuss the weekly Torah portion, was dedicated this week to the national day, and had as guest Astrid Balzan, Ph.D. who wrote a book about the national anthem, a book whose title translates ‘HaTikvah – Past, Present and Future’.  I did not read the book (yet) but it seems like interesting reading. Dr. Balzan’s theory is that the melody, whose origin is usually traced back to the La Mantovana, a 17th-century Italian song, originally written by Giuseppino del Biado ca. 1600 with the text “Fuggi, fuggi, fuggi dal questo cielo” to enter the folklore of Eastern Europe and be later used by Smetana in his symphonic poem celebrating Bohemia, “Má vlast,” as “Vltava” (Die Moldau) and by Samuel Cohen for “HaTikvah” (source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatikvah) actually originates in a melody used in prayers by Spanish Jews as early as the 14th century. The prayer is named ‘Birkhat hatal’ name that translates as ‘Blessing of the Dew’ which sounds quite poetic.

Some details about dr. Balzan’s book can be found at http://www.ortav.com/sunshop/index.php?l=product_detail&p=397 and Dov Elboim’s show can be seen in the next few days at http://www.iba.org.il/media/?recorded=1 (in Hebrew).

(video source AntinouslsGod1)

Whatever the past was HaTikvah is still generating new versions and discoveries of older recordings, each with its own story. Here are two for this year’s anniversary. The first was sang in 1950 by Al Jolson. Born Asa Yoelson in what is today Lithuania, Jolson became in the 20s and 30s one of the top entertainers in the United States. He was not only a great comedian and musician, but also what we call today an engaged artist, fighting prejudice and racial discrimination, promoting jazz and African-American music and the African-American artists to the white audiences. He will of course be always remembered by many people for having played (with black make-up) and sang in 1927 in the first sound movie picture in history “The Jazz Singer”. This recording of HaTikvah may be one of his last, made in 1950, the year of his sudden death.

(video source stavc16)

Here is another version of HaTikvah, a very recent one. It’s a short excerpt of the much publicized concert that teenage star Justin Bieber gave in Tel Aviv less than one month ago. The performer is Dan Kanter – the guitarist playing with Justin Bieber, considered to be the man behind his music.

The anthem is alive. Israel and its people are alive.

Happy Birthday, Israel!