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May 02, 2003 - Image 86

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-05-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

REMEMBER WHEN YOU KNEW YOUR NEIGHBORS?
We'fr bringing nokbborly friendship to retirement living.

HE WROTE THE WORDS from page 85

THE FOUNTAINS
AT FRANKLIN has

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came to Rishon L'Tzion in 1878.
Instead, it's based on a popular
Moldavian-Romanian folk song, " Carul
cu Bof ("Cart and Oxen"), whose deri-
vation is lost in the mists of history.
Some scholars insist that the melody is of
authentic Slavic origin; others say it's a
version rendition of an Italian folk song
called "Fuggi Fuggi."
Wherever the melody comes from, it
also influenced Czechoslovakian compos-
er Bedrich Smetana, who used "Carul cu
boi" as the basis for "The Moldau," his
best-known work.
Samuel Cohen is more often than not
forgotten as man who put "Hatikvah" to
music, because he never applied for a
copyright.
Imber, on the other hand, published
"Tikvatanu" in 1886, while the first
known printed version of the words and
music together came in 1895.

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Becoming Israel's Anthem

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Those first lyrics were quite different
from the song we know today as
"Hatikvah."
Imber's version read (in part):

Were building a new neighborhood, one neighbor at a time.

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86

By the time "Hatikvah" became Israel's
national anthem, more had changed
than the text.
The pronunciation was changed to the
Sephardic version of Hebrew used in
modern Israel instead of the Ashkenazic
Hebrew spoken by Imber. And the tune
was altered slightly, to accommodate the
change in words.
It wasn't until 1948, however, that
Italian conductor Bernardino Molinari
orchestrated the music for the Israel
Philharmonic Orchestra, creating the
version that we know today.
In 1898, the German paper Die Wielt
announced a competition to create a
national anthem for Zionism. Two years
later, the Fourth Zionist Congress did
the same thing. Nothing submitted was
accepted.
"Hatikvah" (then still called
"Tikvatenu") was sung by a number of
those attending the Zionist Congress
held in Switzerland in 1901. But it wasn't
until 1905, at the Seventh Zionist
Congress, that "Hatikvah" became the
unofficial song of the Zionist movement
when, at the end of the Congress, all
those present stood to sing it.

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"0 while within a Jewish breast,
Beats true a Jewish heart.
And Jewish glances turning East,
To Zion fondly dart,
0 then our hope — it is not lost
Our ancient hope and true
To return to the land of our fathers
Where David's banner flew."

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In 1933 (no one is certain why it took
so long), "Hatkivah" was finally named
the officia/Zionist anthem, as well as the
anthem of Jewish Palestine.

Another Anthem

The song's greatest competitor was
undoubtedly another bit of music with
which many are familiar: "Shir

HaMaalot"
Called "Song of Ascents" in English, it
is best known as the introduction to
bentsching, the blessings said after one has
eaten bread.
Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt himself per-
formed "Shir HaMaalot" at the Seventh
Zionist Congress. (To this day, his
remains the most popular melody used
for the prelude to bentsching.) The idea
that it be adopted as Zionism's anthem
apparently was proposed by one of the
leading Jewish poets of the time, Chaim
Nachman Bialik.
In Yossele Rosenblatt- A Biography, Dr.
Samuel Rosenblatt wrote of his father:
"When Israel's poet laureate of the
time, Chaim Nachman Bialik, heard my
father sing `Shir Hamaalos,' he was
roused to such a pitch of enthusiasm that
he proposed that the composition be
adopted as the Jewish national anthem."
Although one participant at the 1905
Zionist Congress called it "enormously
moving" when all stood to sing
"Hatkivah," surely the song has never
been so stirring as on May 14, 1948,
when "Hatkivah" was sung at the
Declaration of the State of Israel.

An Obscure End

The author of the original anthem,
meanwhile, had moved to the United
States.
For a brief while, Imber continued to
write poems and translated a few works
of English (including, most famously, the
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam) into
Hebrew. Then alcoholism completely
consumed his life, and he died alone and
in poverty in 1909.
Imber was buried in New York. In
1953, his remains were reinterred at Mt.
Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem.
Among Imber's descendants is George
Erdstein of Huntington Woods, the
poet's great-nephew, on his father's side.
Erdstein's grandfather, Imber's brother,
died more than 40 years ago.
There are no family stories about
Lmber, though Erdstein says he has read
about his famous ancestor, "and it's clear
he was a charmer and he liked to imbibe."
There is one striking fact, though, that
never fails to impress Erdstein:
"It is amazing to me that whenever I
see a photo of Naftali Herz Imber, he
looks exactly like my grandfather."



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