Naomi Shemer

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Naomi Shemer
Naomi Shemer.jpg
Background information
Birth nameNaomi Sapir
Born(1930-07-13)July 13, 1930
Kvutzat Kinneret, British Mandate of Palestine (now Israel)
DiedJune 26, 2004(2004-06-26) (aged 73)
Tel Aviv, Israel
GenresWorld, Israeli Folk
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
Instrument(s)Vocals, piano

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 "Yerushalayim 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.

Early life[edit]

Naomi Sapir (נעמי ספיר) was born to Rivka and Meir Sapir (Sapirov) in Kvutzat Kinneret, an Israeli 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, Abel Ehrlich, Ilona Vincze-Kraus and Josef Tal.[citation needed]

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 "Lu Yehi", an adaptation of the Beatles song "Let It Be" in 1973.[4]

In 1963, she composed "Hurshat Ha'Eucalyptus" ("The Eucalyptus Grove"), a song that evokes Kvutzat Kinneret, where she was born.[5] It was covered in a recent version by Ishtar. In 1967, she wrote the patriotic song, "Yerushalayim Shel Zahav" (Jerusalem of Gold), which was sung by Shuli Natan 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][4]

Personal life[edit]

She first married actor Gideon Shemer and had a daughter, Lali. They were later divorced. She later married an attorney, Mordechai Horowitz. The two had a son Ariel Horowitz, who also became a musician.[6]

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.

Shemer continued to write her own songs. She died in 2004 of cancer, aged 74. 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.[7] In 1962, singer Paco Ibáñez performed the Basque melody "Pello Joxepe" (Joseph The Fool), in Israel, when Shemer might have heard it.[7]

Shemer was buried in the cemetery at Kvutzat Kinneret, her place of birth. Alongside her are buried many of the socialist ideologues and pioneers of the second and third waves of immigration. Shemer was buried near the famous Israeli poet Rachel, according to Shemer's wish.[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 Michal 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. ^ a b Saxon, Wolfgang. "Naomi Shemer, 74, Poet and Composer, Dies", The New York Times obituary, June 29, 2004; accessed August 3, 2012.
  5. ^ Profile, Haaretz, July 7, 2008.
  6. ^ a b "Naomi Shemer dies". Obituary. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  7. ^ a b Idit Avrahami, Nurit Wurgaft, "Naomi Shemer had no reason to feel bad, says Basque singer", Haaretz, May 6, 2005; accessed August 3, 2012
  8. ^ Grishaver, Joel L., and Barkin, Josh. Artzeinu: An Israel Encounter. Los Angeles: Torah Aura Productions, 2008. 99. Google Books. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
  9. ^ "Recipients in 1983". Israel Prize Official Site (in Hebrew). Retrieved October 22, 2015.

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