Naomi Shemer

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Naomi Shemer
Naomi Shemer.jpg
Background information
Birth name Naomi Sapir
Born (1930-07-13)July 13, 1930
Origin Kvutzat Kinneret (present-day Israel)
Died June 26, 2004(2004-06-26) (aged 73)
Tel Aviv, Israel
Genres World
Occupations Singer, songwriter
Instruments Vocals

Naomi Shemer (Hebrew: נעמי שמר‎; July 13, 1930 – June 26, 2004) was a leading[1] Israeli musician and songwriter, hailed as the "first lady of Israeli song and poetry."[2][3] Her song Yerushlayim Shel Zahav (“Jerusalem of Gold”) written in 1967, became an unofficial second anthem after Israel won the Six-Day War that year and reunited Jerusalem.


Naomi Sapir was born on Kvutzat Kinneret, a kibbutz her parents had helped found, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. In the 1950s she served in the Israeli Defense Force's Nahal entertainment troupe, and studied music at the Rubin Academy in Jerusalem, and in Tel Aviv with Paul Ben-Haim, Frank Pelleg, Abel Ehrlich, Ilona Vincze-Kraus and Josef Tal.[4]

Marriage and family[edit]

She first married actor Gideon Shemer and had a daughter, Lali. They were later divorced.[5]

She later married the attorney Mordechai Horowitz, with whom she had a son, Ariel.[5]

The grave of Israeli songwriter Naomi Shemer on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret). Visitors leave stones in keeping with an ancient Jewish custom.

Songwriting career[edit]

Shemer did her own songwriting and composing, set famous poems to music, such as those of the Israeli poet, Rachel, and the American Walt Whitman. She also translated and adapted popular songs into Hebrew, such as the Beatles song "Let It Be" in 1973.[6]

In 1963, she composed "Hurshat Ha'Eucalyptus" ("The Eucalyptus Grove"), a song that evokes Kvutzat Kinneret where she was born.[7] It was covered in a recent version by Ishtar.

In 1967, she wrote the patriotic song, "Yerushalayim Shel Zahav", which was sung by Shuly Nathan and became famous. She wrote it for the Israeli Music Festival. After Israel's victory in the Six-Day War that year, she added another verse celebrating the reunification of Jerusalem . The song "gained the status of an informal second national anthem."[6]

Later years[edit]

Shemer continued to write her own songs. She died in 2004 of cancer. Shortly before her death, she wrote to a friend, saying she had used a Basque folk melody as the basis for her 1967 "anthem," "Jerusalem of Gold". She had always denied it before. The friend and her family decided to publish the account.[8]

In 1962, the singer Paco Ibanez performed the Basque melody, "Pello Joxepe" (Joseph The Fool), in Israel, when Shemer might have heard it. He said musicians borrow music without knowing where their inspiration comes from. Although he heard the similarity in her melody, he did not think it significant and said she should not have felt guilty about it.[8]


In 1983, Shemer received the Israel Prize for Hebrew song (words and melody).[9]


Tomorrow On The Jordan The White Town
A Chariot of Fire Lights Out Black Coffee
My Soldier is Back Fields at Sunset Green Meadows
Four Brothers Soldiers En Route A Song For Gideon
The Long Hike The Builders' Love Yesternight
Look For Me Men At Work! The Two of Us
We Are Starving! In Such a Night A Lament
An Umbrella For Two The Clown Just For You
My Dream House Ophelia Night on the Shore
Anniversary Song The Spy-Girl Answers
My Flute A Serenade A City in Grey
Twelve Months Flowers, Herbs, Etc. Jerusalem of Gold
A Short Walk The Market Song On Silver Wings
My Fathers Song Night on the Park Lullaby for Colors
  • The Second Book, copyright 1975, published by Lulav
Land of Lahadam Funny Faces For Children
Land of Lahadam Beautiful People Rosh-Hashana
Nachal in Sinai Sixteen Shlomit
Maoz Tsur Mr. Narcissus Aleph-Beit
The Sacrifice of Isaac The Witches When Adar Comes
Giora A Special Lullaby Let's Say
All We Pray For Shem, Cham, & Yefet I Have a Friend
A Song is Born The Shark On the Move
Things we Have Paranoid Summer Holiday
Bethlehem Two Street-Photographers Tall Stories
Why Did Michael Laugh How to Break a Chamsin
Yesh Li Chag
It's Late
Shalom Kitah Aleph
To Sing Like a Jordan
  • Number Three (Sefer Gimel), copyright 1982, published by Lulav
Songs Poems Imported Wine Children Everywhere Columns from Davar
Al Kol Eleh Omrim Yeshna Eretz Oifen Veg Stait a Bhoim Children Everywhere Shalom, Ida Nudel
Good People Hoi Artzi Moladti Si Tous les Oiseaux Grapefruit Pardes-Hanna
Shirat Ha'Asavim Come & Sing Le Testament Autumn It's Raining
Cheveley Mashiach Kinneret La Non-Demande en Mariage Our Benjamin Yehuda
Tapuach Bi'Dvash Begani Il n'y a pas d'Amour Heureux The Piano Vintage Days
New Babylon Zemer Un Amour de Vingt Ans
Yif'at Metai Les Souliers
Tammuz Rachel O Imitoos
Spring Parade Ki Sa'art Alai Sur le Chemin du Retour
The Eighth Day The Third Mother Barbara
Summer Your Lily-White Feet Dedication
Noa A Lament
Zamar Noded My Sudden Death
Landmarks Let's go to the Field
My Town in the Snow
Lots of Love

- Ain Mashehu cmo zeh

The Party is Over
Ein Davar
El Borot Ha'Mayim
  • Book Four (Sefer Arbah), copyright 1995, published by Shva Publishers
Uncategorized 6 Songs for Yehoram Gaon 11 Personal Belongings for Moshe Beker 5 Songs for Rivka Michaeli Hebrew Versions 6 Children Songs Lyrics for Mattai Caspi's Music
Light Kemo Katsav Personal Belongings Street Musicians Musica Chanuka Shulamit
The Guest You Can't Beat Me Swan Girl Global Patrol Willow Songs Tu Bishvat Simchati
We Aren't There Yet You're the Best Old Flame Not Bialik Ne Me Quitte Pas Pesach Farewll
Ir Va'Em Good Morning Flower Never a Dull Moment One Little Kid
My Mother's Portrait Libavtini Prelude Upside Down
Noga Black Princess Sister
The Bread of Love Roof
After the Harvest Gai
Summer White Strawberry
The Flour Jar Time
Pardes-Chana II September First
I'm a Guitar
To Light a Candle
Your Sons From Afar
On the Boardwalk
Shana Tova
It's All Open
Cafe Tiferet
My Young Disaster

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "'Jerusalem of Gold,' Israel Festival Song, Strikes Gold". Billboard. October 21, 1967. Retrieved November 28, 2010. 
  2. ^ Ben-Nun, Sagui; Avivi, Gidi (June 27, 2004). "Naomi Shemer: First lady of Israeli song". Haaretz. Retrieved November 28, 2010. 
  3. ^ Colton, Miriam (July 2, 2004). "A Nation Mourns Naomi Shemer, Iconic Songstress". Forward. Retrieved November 28, 2010. 
  4. ^ her speech receiving Honoris Causa degree from Ben-Gurion University (1993)[full citation needed]
  5. ^ a b "Naomi Shemer 1930–2004". Haaretz. Retrieved August 27, 2007. 
  6. ^ a b Saxon, Wolfgang. "Naomi Shemer, 74, Poet and Composer, Dies", New York Times obituary, 29 June 2004, accessed 3 August 2012
  7. ^ Haaretz, July 7, 2008
  8. ^ a b Idit Avrahami, Nurit Wurgaft, "Naomi Shemer had no reason to feel bad, says Basque singer", Haaretz, 6 May 2005, accessed 3 August 2012
  9. ^ "Israel Prize Official Site – Recipients in 1983 (in Hebrew)". 

External links[edit]