Sheet music

ISRAEL : Israel National Anthem
Israeli National Anthem
National Anthem of Israel

  • Author: Naftali Herz Imber (1856-1909)
  • Composer: Shmuel Cohen (1870-1940)
  • Adopted: In use since 1948, adopted 2004
  • National Day: May 14 (1948) - Independence Day
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  • Further details: Israel has a National Anthem whose goal and purpose it is to serve the renaissance of the Jewish people, the strengthening of its national reawakening, and the development of the Promised Land.

    This National Anthem, the 'Hatikvah' ('Hope'), is not merely used by the Jews of Israel. It unites all ethnically determined Jews throughout the world and was actually adopted as the Zionist Anthem as long ago as 1897, the year of the first international Zionist Congress at Basel, Switzerland. The text was written by the itinerant Hebrew scholar and poet, NAFTALI HERZ IMBER (1856-1909). It was first published in the collection 'Barkai' ('Morning Star') which appeared in 1886 in Jerusalem where Imber lived at the time.

    Its notation is ascribed to SHMUEL COHEN (1870-1940) pioneer settler of Rishon Le-Zion in Israel, who was born in Besarabia (bordering Romania). He came to Rishon-Le-Zion in 1886-1887, married and had one daughter, Eda, who died in Haifa and had no children. Shmuel Cohen was a farmer growing grapes for wine, he failed economically and left Rishon Le-Zion but later returned and was buried there. Shmuel Cohen was gifted musically and played the violin. However, aside from his connection with 'Hatikva', it is not known that he wrote music. Naftali Herz Imber's poem 'Tikvatenu' reached Cohen, either in Rishon Le-Zion after Imber's stay here, or after his brother sent Imber's book of poems 'Barkai' to him while still in Europe. Since there were no, or very few, Hebrew songs at that time, and since the children of Rishon Le-Zion studied in the First Hebrew school and kindergarten in the world, a need for Hebrew songs became apparent. Shmuel Cohen, familiar with a Romanian/Moldavian folksong from his homeland, called 'Carul cu boi', joined the words of 'Tikvatenu' to this melody. The first stanza and refrain (which the Hebrew teachers in Rishon Le-Zion altered with Imber's approval) became a Hebrew children's song called 'Hatikva'. The song soon became known throughout the country (the workers from Rishon Le-Zion would sing it on their way to work in the fields of Rehovot nearby) and was also sung spontaneously at official ceremonies (the Zionist Congresses) and quickly became familiar all over the world.

    The book 'The Music of Israel' (1949) states that Shmuel Cohen had borrowed the tune from a cantorial composition by the famous Cantor Nissan Belzer. In any event, it does represent a type which has been familiar in Spanish folk singing for centuries. Pendrell, the well-known Spanish folklore expert quotes a very similar tune under the title of 'Virgen de la Cueva' ('Virgin of the Cave'). It would seem that the Sephardic Jews knew it in Spain and took it along with them to the near east. It is interesting to note that the same tune can be found among the Poles ('Pod Krakovem') , the Basques, and even the Netherlanders.