July 29, 2004 by

Naomi Shemer

5 comments

Categories: Musicians

Naomi Shemer, one of Israel’s most prolific songwriters, died on June 26 of cancer. She was 74.
Born on Kibbutz Kinneret, Shemer took piano lessons as a child and continued her musical studies at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. She returned home to teach rhythm classes at her kibbutz school and performe with the Israel Defense Forces Nahal Brigade.
In the 1950s, Shemer wrote the words to the musical “Hamesh-Hamesh” (Five-Five) and released her first record. Over the next half a century, she composed dozens of songs for a wide variety of singers. Shemer was best known for penning the ballad “Jerusalem of Gold,” which became the country’s unofficial national anthem. When Prime Minister Yizhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995, she honored him by translating the Walt Whitman poem, “Oh Captain, My Captain,” into Hebrew and putting it to music.
Known as the “First Lady of Israeli Song,” Shemer received the Israel Prize in 1983.

5 Responses to Naomi Shemer

  1. Stacy

    I am an American at classes in Israel when Naomi Shemer died, and all the students in my program went to the memorial concert in Tel Aviv. It was such an amazing experience – can you believe, 70,000 people there. It was absolutely incredible, and everyone singing Yerushalayim Shel Zahav was so emotional.

  2. Roman

    wow, she was a completley amazing person. she deserved to be 120 years old. she died young. i was listening to Yerusalayim Shel Zahav just now. i broke out in tears during the chorus. i feel slightly honored thought that i can honor her death when i do my birthday. although, on the Iseali calander its different. we will never forget her and the jerusalem she wrote of…

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