Thursday, June 28, 2007

Sights of the North; Sounds of Israel

Last Saturday afternoon, following a tiring-yet-fulfilling day of wandering around fortresses and waterfalls in the North, I suddenly found myself feeling envious of my blogging pal Benji. Why was I harboring such feelings towards such an upstanding fellow, you ask? Okay. Picture this scene in your mind. You're sitting in the car with your loved ones, heading home from an excursion chock-full of the sights, sounds and smells of the Hermon region. Your mind is all a-jumble, as you think about Nimrod Fortress, the Banias nature reserve and waterfall, the deliciously cold mango slurpee you drank earlier, and the perfectly-timed iced coffee you're drinking now. The day was a success, and you can't help but wonder how it could get any better. And then it does. The radio station that you're listening to starts broadcasting an hour-long tribute to Naomi Shemer, and all of your old favorite songs are suddenly being played one after another.

Nimrod 2Your thoughts start drifting back to the long, lost days of youth, lazy days of summer spent in summer camp. You can remember singing these songs, dancing to these songs. You think of the good times you had, the friends you made, and suddenly, you turn melancholy, wishing you were there again. And suddenly, you remember that Benji is there again. As you sit in your air-conditioned car, stuck in weekend traffic while singing along with the best of Naomi Shemer, ignoring the three year-old next to you who keeps asking for one last cookie, you realize that Benji is probably doing the one thing you'd give anything to be doing at that moment, and alas, you are indeed feeling envious of Benji.

Seriously. What could be better than spending your time with the words and music of the late Naomi Shemer, one of Israel's most popular and talented songwriters? Who hasn't heard "Yerushalayim Shel Zahav" ("Jerusalem of Gold"), or "Al Kol Eileh" ("For all these Things")? This prolific song writer, who passed away in the summer of 2004, played a definitive role in shaping the Israeli music scene, with her songs often reflecting the national mood of the day. Her music has accompanied Israelis through good times and bad, and her tunes have been sung by Israeli artists from all musical genres.

The clip below shows the Israeli singing group The Dudaim (Yisrael Gurion and the late Benny Amdursky) singing of one of my favorite Naomi Shemer songs. The title is "Tilbeshi Lavan" (You will wear White), and the first verse and chorus are translated as:

This summer you will wear white
You'll think clear thoughts
Perhaps you will receive a love letter
Perhaps we will make choices.

I will choose you and you will choose me
And together we'll mostly be
If this summer you will wear white
And pray for good.

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