600 Israelis – Holocaust survivors, their children, and their grandchildren – came together to celebrate life by performing the song “Chai” by Ofra Haza. The result was a moving intergenerational experience, whose message reverberates across generations, commemorations, and celebrations.
Koolulam and The Song
Koolulam is a social-musical initiative aimed at bringing together people from all corners of the diverse, multicultural, Israeli society. Looking towards marking Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day), they partnered together with ‘Zikaron Basalon’ and brought together 600 Holocaust survivors and their families, to celebrate life by performing the song “Chai” by Ofra Haza.
This video was a joint project between Beit Avi Chai, an educational and cultural institution in Jerusalem; Koolulam, a social initiative for mass singing; and Zikaron BaSalon, an organization that coordinates Holocaust commemoration ceremonies:
Many of the older participants took advantage of the event to share their story with others in attendance. The lyrics of "Chai" represent an expression of defiance and victory of the Jews: “This is the song which grandfather sang yesterday to father, and today, I, I am able to sing it."
Chai, chai, chai
חי, חי, חי
Alive, alive, alive
- How did watching this video make you feel?
- What is the essence of the song they are singing?
- Why do you think this song was chosen?
- Looking at the words of the chorus above, what is the "song" that they are singing? What might be the "song" of your family? Of your community? Of the Jewish people?
- How does this song and Yom HaShoah speak to different generations? How does it interplay between generations?
Ofra Haza in Eurovision
Representing Israel in the 1983 Eurovision Contest, Ofra Haza came in a close second to the Luxembourg entry with "Chai". The song was voted No. 1 in Israel that same year.
1. How does Ofra Haza's original differ from the new Koolulam version?
2. How are both versions relevant to their settings?
3. What similarities and differences are there between the two versions?
4. Why do you think Koolulam took a Eurovision song from 1983 to make it accessible and meaningful to Yom HaShoah?