Listening to these survivors singing what came to be the national anthem of Israel, before there was a state of Israel, moved me to tears but it also pointed out the connection to Zion which we Jews have carried with us since the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD by the Romans. I scrolled through the youtubes following this one and discovered Barbara Streisand introducing Israel’s national anthem, a year ago, in Israel, speaking about Israel’s national anthem, the same song, with minor variations that became also the national anthem of the State of Israel “Hatikva/Hope”. The last line translates as – the hope of the Jewish people to be a free people in our country, the land of Zion and Jerusalem – Hebrew- Tikvateinu, Lihyot am hofshi b’artzeinu, b’eretz Tzion, Yerushalayim”.
Then I discovered this video “The best Hebrew Songs” a four minute medley of Hebrew songs performed by a band with Russian roots in a big band rock style. What are the songs they choose? 1.They start with “Shalom Aleichem – Peace/shalom to you” 2. It is closely followed by “May the One who makes peace in the Heavens bring peace to us and to all Israel. In Hebrew “Oseh shalom bimromav, Hu yayseh shalom aleinu, v’al kol Yisrael.” 3. Then we are treated to the most popular Jewish wedding song with a pantomime wedding couple: “May this be a good omen and bring good luck to us and all Israel. Hebrew – “mazel tov ve siman tov, siman tov vemazal tov, yeheh lanu v’l’kol Yisrael.” 4. Then we are treated to an article of faith going back hundreds of years: “I believe with full faith in the coming of the Messiah. And although He tarry, I will wait for Him to come every day. Hebrew – Ani ma’amin b’emunah shlaima b’viyat Ha Mashiach: V’af al pi sh’yitmamaya, ahakeh Lo b’chol yom sh’yavo” 5. And they conclude with: “We bring you peace: Hebrew – “Haivainu shalom aleichem”. What I find so unusual about these songs is that Three out of the five are taken from traditional and ancient prayerbook texts. Only the last one and the first one, “Shalom aleichem” and “Haivainu shalom aleichem” is a more contemporary formulation. And yet these are the songs that a contemporary and modern band chooses as the “most popular” Jewish songs.
I thought these three You-tube videos illustrate how Jewish people all over the world, for thousands of years have always been, and continue to be bound together, with the fate of the land of Israel and Jerusalem, by communal text and by communal song.