Songs that Mourn

In this playlist, some of Israel’s best artists memorialize loved ones through classic and contemporary songs filled with stories of those we have lost.

The music may be played through this page, or saved in your own Spotify account to shuffle the songs (recommended).

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באב אל וואד

(Bab-El-Wad, "Gate of the Valley")

Bab-el-wad, or Sha’ar HaGei in Hebrew, is the name of the narrow part of the road leading to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. This road and the nearby fort of Latrun held great strategic importance during the 1948 War of Independence. Without control of the road, it was impossible to get convoys of food, water, and medicine to the Jews in Jerusalem without tremendous loss of life. 

As a result, several bloody battles were fought in the area during the War of Independence, and this place came to symbolize the ultimate sacrifice for the security and well-being of the country. (See also "The Silver Platter" directly below, a poem written by Israeli poet Natan Alterman in December 1947, which explores this very theme.)


>> View and Download Lyrics Sheet

מגש הכסף

(Magash HaKesef, "Silver Platter")

Chaim Weitzman, who would go on to be Israel’s first President, once said “No state is ever given on a silver platter.” Inspired by these words, Natan Alterman wrote one of his best known poems. This poem was written in 1947, thus the words are eerily prophetic of what would come to pass.

>> View and Download Full Poem

מה אברך

(Mah Avarech, "What Shall I Bless")

Rachel Shapira and Eldad Krock grew up together at Kibbutz Shefayim. Eldad was killed in one of the most intense battles in 1967’s Six Day War, at Givat Hatachmoshet (Ammunition Hill). Shortly after Eldad's death, Rachel wrote a poem in his memory. Composer Yair Rosenblum put the words to music and gave it to Rivka Zohar and the Navy Band to sing.

>> View and Download Lyrics Sheet

גבעת התחמושת

(Givat Hatachmoshet, "Ammunition Hill")

Ammunition Hill, was built during the British Mandate period (1917-48) to store ammunition for the British Police. During the War of Independence (1947-49), the Jordanian army took control of the area. In 1967’s Six-Day War, the Paratrooper’s Brigade was tasked with taking control of Ammunition Hill. Inaccurate intelligence about the location and size of Jordanian troops led to one of the toughest battles of the Six-Day War. Israel took control of Ammunition Hill, opening the possibility of reunifying Jerusalem. The song describes the fierce battle.

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לו יהי

(Lu Yehi, "May It Be")

This Israeli version of the Beatles classic “Let It Be” was written during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Rather than translating the original, poet Naomi Shemer took the concept and wrote a song hoping for an end to the war and safe return of soldiers. (The second verse—in brackets within the song lyrics—was initially performed, but was subsequently removed due to the painful nature of the lyrics.)

>> View and Download Lyrics Sheet

 

בלדה לחובש

(Baladah L'chovesh, "A Ballad for the Medic")

With so many wounded and dead from the battle, the medics serve a central role in protecting their brothers in arms. This next song—while resonating for all medics—tells the story of an injured soldier Yossi Haguel and the medic who tended to him, Shlomo Epstein.

The story behind the song:

In the video above, Yossi Haguel describes that fateful night:

He tried to calm me by telling me that everything would be ok while treating [my wounds]. Suddenly, we hear shouts from the guys, “They’re bombing us, they’re bombing us!” The bombs began getting closer to where we were – where the wounded were being treated. It was an exposed area, and [our guys] yelled, “Take cover, take cover!” And whoever was able to get up and walk got out of there fast. I was wounded in the legs, so I couldn’t get up. That’s when Shlomo Epstein grabbed me and said, “Come on, let’s be together,” and he dragged me to the concrete wall of the shelter. I said to him, “Go, get out of here. It would be a shame for both of us to get hurt.” But he dragged me over there and lay down on me from the back, putting my face near the wall. A few seconds later, a shell fell a meter and a half away from us…

We flew into the air, and after that, I remember, it was silent. That’s what I remember. And then I hear, “Take him; he’s not in good shape,” [because] I was bleeding profusely…

When they came to get me, I said, “There’s someone else here.” They said, “There is nobody else here; just you.” I said, “I know there’s someone else – the medic who treated me.” …

Written excerpt from Forest Rain's leading blog on Israel, "Inspiration from Zion."

>> View and Download Lyrics Sheet (coming soon)

תפילה

(T'filah, "Prayer")

The song "Prayer" was written by Giora Fisher, who lost his son Marom on April 5, 2002, in Jenin during Operation Defensive Shield. The song is taken from the book of poems, After This, published by Am Oved in 2010.

Sgt. Marom Fisher of the Golani Brigade was laid to rest in the cemetery in Moshav Avigdor where he grew up. Marom left behind his parents, two brothers, and a beloved dog, who is still waiting for him to return. He was 19 when he died. His tombstone is engraved with the words: "know the path, love the trail, and give light.”

Loose Translation

May it be

That I’ll be an old man

Confused.

Then if I ask:

Why didn’t he come to visit?

Do not say:

But he fell

A long time ago.

Say:

He was here yesterday

And he said he would come tomorrow.

 

מי יתן

וְאהיה כּבר זקן

מבלְבּל.

אם אז אשאל:

למה הוא לא בא לבקּר?

אל תאמרו:

אבל, הוא נפל

לפני הֲמון זמן.

אמרו:

הוא היה פה אתמול

ואמר שׁיבוא גם מחר

עשרים אלף

(Esrim Eleph, "Twenty Thousand People")

Sgt. Sean Carmeli moved to Israel from Texas and joined the IDF. Sean was among the first soldiers killed in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. Israelis were concerned that Sean, a lone soldier who had no family in Israel, would not have many people to attend his funeral. An unprecedented 20,000 Israelis filled Neve David cemetery in Haifa. This powerful song was written by Ariel Horowitz in tribute.

 

 

עשרים אלף איש ואתה הראשון

עשרים אלף איש אחריך שון

צועדים בשקט עם פרחים

שתי אחיות - עשרים אלף אחים

 

אוהדי הכדורגל שהגיעו עם הצעיפים של הקבוצה

ובחורה עם דגל

שלא ברור למה היא כל כך בוכה

בלי להכיר אותך

 

עשרים אלף איש ואתה הראשון

עשרים אלף איש אחריך שון

צועדים בשקט עם פרחים

שתי אחיות עשרים אלף אחים

 

באו לומר תודה ולהיפרד

להגיד שאין דבר כזה חייל בודד

וגם עם לא לבדד ישכון

כל עוד ישנם בטקסס, בחיפה בגוש עציון

אנשים כמוך שון

 

עשרים אלף איש ואתה הראשון

עשרים אלף איש אחריך שון

צועדים בשקט עם פרחים

שתי אחיות עשרים אלף אחים

 

העושה שלום במרומיו

יעשה שלום עלינו

עם בוא הסתיו שלא תזכה לראות כבר שון

לכן הגיעו הנה מזקן ועד קטון

מחיפה, מגוש עציון

 

עשרים אלף איש

ואתה ראשון

עשרים אלף איש אחריך שון

צועדים בשקט עם פרחים

שתי אחיות עשרים אלף אחים

Loose Translation

Twenty thousand people, and you are the first.

Twenty thousand people following you, Sean.

Marching in silence with flowers,

Two sisters, 20,000 brothers

Football fans who came with the team scarves

And a woman with the flag

Why did she cry so much without ever knowing you

Twenty thousand people .....

Came to say thank you and to say goodbye

To say that there's no such thing as a 'lone soldier'

Neither is there "a people that dwells alone"

As long as there are in Texas, in Haifa, and in Gush Etzion

People like you, Sean

Twenty thousand people .....

The Maker of peace above

Make peace for us with the coming of autumn

No longer being seen anymore, Sean

This is why they all came here, the elderly and the young,

From Haifa and Gush Etzion

Twenty thousand people .....

Twenty thousand brothers.

פתח ליבך

(Patach Libcha, "Open Up Your Hearts")

On June 12, 2014, three high school friends, Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel, and Gilad Sha’ar, were kidnapped and killed near Gush Etzion in the West Bank. Their disappearance captured the attention of the entire world. Singer David D’or connected with the boys’ families and friends, and composed this song:

Excerpts from United with Israel

Loose Translation

Open Your heart with mercy upon Your children

May their voices be heard for generations.

In the Heavens, Your words are etched for all eternity.

And Here on Earth, grant us consolation.

 

It’s wonderous how the three became one.

And in their death commanded us to live.

They alighted in innocence as a ram bound in sacrifice.

Upon an altar of sons

The heavens cried out over Gilad

And the earth trembled.

from the depths of the quivering heart

Beamed the picture of the smiling trio.

 

(Chorus)

 

And in the season of suffering, as evil drew near,

From the smokescreen of dust were revealed

The falsehoods lurking in tunnels,

Sinister plans launched afar,

A breath of fresh yet ancient air

Drew together distant hearts

And with awesome conviction demanded

That even when we cannot comprehend, we dare not fall.

 

(Chorus)

 

And amidst the madness

Between the pursuit and the pursued

A cry does ascend

Yearning for peace

And the nation, grown so weary

Of senseless hate

Will unite as one, in a brotherly embrace

 

(Chorus)

 

פתח ליבך ברחמים על בניך

קולם לדורות ישמע

בשמים ניצבים לעד דבריך

ובארץ המצא לנו נחמה

 

איכה היו השלושה לאחד

וציוו לנו חיים

עלו לתומם כאייל נעקד

על מזבח הבנים

שמים בכו מעל לגלעד

והארץ רעשה

מתוך נפתולי הלב שרעד

חייכו בתמונה השלושה

 

פתח ליבך…

 

ובין מייצרים בקרוב עלי מרעים

התגלו במסך האבק

שקרים שבתוך מנהרות מסתתרים

מזימות שנורו למרחק

הרוח נשבה ישנה חדשה

וקרבה לבבות רחוקים

מתוך תעצומות הנפש ביקשה

לא ליפול גם כשלא מבינים

 

פתח ליבך…

 

ובתוך הטירוף בין מרדף לנרדף

תעלה זעקה לשלום הנכסף

והעם שעייף משנאת החינם

יתאחד בחיבוק אחים

 

פתח ליבך...