Chava Alberstein

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Chava Alberstein
Chava Alberstein playing guitar and singing into microphone onstage
Alberstein in 2007
Background information
Birth nameEwa Alberstein
Born (1946-12-08) 8 December 1946 (age 75)
Szczecin, Poland
OriginKiryat Haim, Israel
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Years active1964–present

Chava Alberstein (Hebrew: חוה אלברשטיין, born 8 December 1946 in Poland) is an Israeli musician, lyricist, composer, and musical arranger.


Born Ewa Alberstein in Szczecin, Poland, her name was Hebraized to Chava when she moved to Israel with her family in 1950.[1] She grew up in Kiryat Haim.[citation needed]

In 1964, when she was seventeen, Alberstein was invited to appear at the Hammam Nightclub in Jaffa. She sang four songs, accompanied by herself on guitar and her brother Alex on the clarinet.[2] The program was broadcast live on the radio. After a guest appearance on Moadon Hazemer, recorded on Kibbutz Beit Alfa, she signed a recording contract with CBS.[2] Early in her career, she appeared at the Amami Cinema in Haifa's Neve Sha'anan neighborhood. Haaretz columnist Neri Livneh described her as "a little slip of a thing in a blue youth movement shirt, her face covered by huge glasses".[3]

Alberstein was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces in 1965 and became one of many Israeli artists to rise to stardom by entertaining the troops.[citation needed]

Musical career[edit]

Alberstein has released more than sixty albums. She has recorded in Hebrew, English, and Yiddish. In 1980, she began to write and compose.[citation needed] Most of the songs on her album Mehagrim are her own work.[2] Alberstein's husband was the filmmaker Nadav Levitan, who wrote the lyrics for her album End of the Holiday.[citation needed] In 1986, Alberstein wrote music for her husband's film Stalin's Disciples.[4] Levitan died in 2010.[5] Alberstein's songs have been included in a number of multi-artist collections, among them Songs of The Vilna Ghetto and The Hidden Gate – Jewish Music Around the World.[citation needed]

Critical acclaim[edit]

According to Israel's second largest daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, Alberstein is the most important female folk singer in Israeli history:[6]

If [Israel has] a true folk singer, it is Chava Alberstein.

Political views and controversy[edit]

Chava Alberstein in a performance for Israeli wounded soldiers, 1969
Chava Alberstein in a performance for Israeli wounded soldiers, 1969

Alberstein is a champion of liberal causes. Throughout her career, she has been an activist for human rights and Arab-Israeli unity.[1] In 1989, her song "Had Gadya" (a spin-off on the traditional song "Chad Gadya", sung at the Passover seder[7]), in which she criticizes Israel's policy towards Palestinians, was banned by Israel State Radio.[4][8][9] The song was later used in the film Free Zone by director Amos Gitai in Natalie Portman's seven-minute crying scene.[10]

Alberstein is also a champion of the Yiddish language, both in her recordings and in a video titled "Too Early to Be Quiet, Too Late to Sing",[11] which showcases the works of Yiddish poets.


Alberstein has won the Kinor David (David's Harp) Prize.[citation needed] In 1999, she received the Itzik Manger Prize.[12] On 28 January 2011, she received the Lifetime Achievement Music Award from the Israel Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers of Musical Works, and holds honorary doctorates from Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science of Israel.[citation needed] On 13 May 2018, she was awarded an honorary doctorate in music from Brandeis University.[citation needed]


  • "Even though I have lived in Israel nearly my entire life, I am constantly questioning my place in the world. Maybe this searching comes from being an artist, maybe it comes from being a Jew. I'm not really sure".[citation needed]


Number Album Name Release Date Language References
1 Hine Lanu Nigun 1967 Yiddish
2 Perach haLilach 1967 Hebrew
3 Tza'atzueiah shel Osnat 1967 Hebrew
4 Mirdaf 1970 Hebrew Gold[11]
5 Mot haParpar 1968 Hebrew
6 Chava Alberstein beShirei Rachel 1969 Hebrew
7 Margaritkalach 1969 Yiddish
8 Mishirei eretz ahavati 1970 Hebrew
9 Chava beTochnit Yachid 1 1971
10 Chava beTochnit Yachid 2 1971
11 Isha ba'Avatiach 1971 Hebrew
12 Chava vehaPlatina 1974
13 Chava veOded be'Eretz haKsamim 1972
14 Lu Yehi 1973 Hebrew
15 K'mo Tzemach bar 1975 Hebrew
16 Lehitei haZahav 1975 Hebrew Gold[11]
17 Tzolelet Tzabarit 1975[11] or 1976[13]
18 Elik Belik Bom 1976
19 Halaila hu shirim 1977 Hebrew
20 Karusella 1 1977
21 Karusella 2 1977
22 Karusella 3 1977
23 Shirei Am beYiddish 1977 Yiddish
24 Hitbaharut 1978
25 Chava vehaGitara 1978
26 Chava Zingt Yiddish 1979 Yiddish
27 Ma Kara ba'Eretz Mi 1979
28 Ani Holechet Elai 1980
29 Shir beMatana 1980
30 Kolot 1982
31 Shiru Shir im Chava 1982
32 Nemal Bayit 1983 Gold
33 Avak shel kochavim 1984
34 Mehagrim 1986
35 Od Shirim beYiddish 1987 Yiddish
36 HaTzorech baMilah, haTzorech baShtika 1988
37 London 1989
38 MiShirei Eretz Ahavati 1990 Hebrew
39 Ahava Mealteret 1991 Hebrew Gold
40 HaChita Zomachat Shuv 1992 Hebrew
41 The Man I Love 1992
42 Margaritkalach 1994 Yiddish
43 Derech Achat 1995
44 London beHofaah (Live) 1995
45 Yonat ha'Ahava 1996 Hebrew
46 Adaber Itcha 1997 Hebrew
47 The Collection (Box set) 1998 Hebrew Gold
48 Crazy Flower 1998 Hebrew
49 The Well – with The Klezmatics 1998 Yiddish
50 Chava Alberstein – Yiddish Songs 1999 Yiddish
51 Tekhef Ashuv 1999 Hebrew
52 Children's Songs – The Collection 2000 Hebrew
53 Foreign Letters 2001
54 The Early Years – The Box Set 2003
55 End of the Holiday 2004 Hebrew
56 Coconut 2005 Hebrew
57 Like a Wild Flower (New Version)
58 Lemele 2006
59 The Milky Way – Songs for Children 2007
60 Human Nature 2008
61 From Alberstein's Live Concert 2008
62 Chava Alberstein – The Original Albums – four-CD set 2008


  1. ^ a b Richard Nidel (2005). World music: The basics. Routledge. ISBN 9780415968003.
  2. ^ a b c Chava Alberstein bio Archived September 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Haaretz Archived August 11, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b Dorůžka, Petr (October 2008). "Chava Aberstein má ráda izraelskou poušť". Harmonie (in Czech). No. 10. pp. 18–21.
  5. ^ "Nadav Levitan". Retrieved 5 October 2021.
  6. ^ "Chava Alberstein". Aviv Productions, Ltd. 11 December 2001. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  7. ^ "Adam Zarek – Chad Gadya". Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  8. ^ "Israel: Chava Alberstein banned". Freemuse. Archived from the original on 19 January 2009. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  9. ^ "Chava Alberstein: Multilingual Folkie". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  10. ^ Michael Guillen (27 July 2006). "2006 SFJFF (San Francisco Jewish Film Festival) — Interview With Amos Gitaï". Archived from the original on 31 March 2009. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
  11. ^ a b c d "Chava Alberstein". Aviv Productions, Ltd. 11 December 2001. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  12. ^ Shahar, Nathan (March 2009). "Chava Alberstein". Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. Jewish Women's Archive. The date of the Manger Prize is given in "Mendele: Yiddish literature and language". Retrieved 20 March 2019. Archive of the Mendele mailing list.
  13. ^ "Dartmouth Jewish Sound Archive". Retrieved 22 August 2011.

External links[edit]