Inclusive HatikvaInclusive Hatikva

An Israeli soul still yearns?

Singer edits lyrics of national anthem to be inclusive of non-Jewish population

Neshama Carlebach, singer and daughter of the Jewish singer-songwriter Shlomo Carlebach, released a new version of the Israeli national anthem Hatikva this week, with lyrics intended to embrace non-Jewish citizens of Israel who feel they are excluded by the Jewish-specific anthem’s lyrics.

Carlebach recorded the song at the invitation of The Forward, an American Jewish newspaper, which published a column in late March making the case for a revised version of Hatikva.

“The successful integration of Israeli Arabs into Israeli life, on which the country’s future depends, has to have its symbolic expression, too. It’s unacceptable to have an anthem that can’t be sung by 20% of a population. Permitting it to stand mutely while others sing is no solution,” read the column.

The rewritten anthem reads:

As long as the heart within
An Israeli [Jewish] soul still yearns
And onward, towards the East
An eye still gazes towards our country [Zion]
We have still not lost our hope
our ancient [2000 year] hope
To be a free people in the land of our fathers [our land]
in the city in which David, in which David encamped [land of Zion and Jerusalem]
To be a free people in our land
In the land of Zion and Jerusalem

The national anthem was adapted from a poem written in 1878 by Naphtali Hertz Imber, who moved to Israel in the early 1880s. The song’s words express the ancient hope of the Jewish people to return to their ancestral homeland of Israel. It was adopted as the unofficial anthem when the State of Israel was established in 1948, but did not officially become the national anthem until November 2004.

At the end of February, newly-appointed Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran drew fire from right-wing critics after keeping silent during the singing of Hatikva during an official ceremony, reopening debate about the relevance of the anthem’s lyrics to non-Jewish Israelis.

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