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The Schmooze

Naomi Shemer’s Archive Reveals a Softer Side

Crossposted from Haaretz

The 17 cartons that held Naomi Shemer’s private archive contained a small black telephone book and tucked in its pages was a note in which the popular songwriter jotted down an extra stanza to “Jerusalem of Gold” at the end of the Six Day War: Just four lines in all, plus numerous erasures and doubts. The first line was changed from “The wells are ours” to “are ours” and added “We returned to.” This very tiny adjustment, just one word in Hebrew, still reflects the national (and individual ) mood of the time.

Shemer in 1967. Image by Yaakov Agur

There is no mention of Shemer’s use of a Basque song, a theft that came to light only years later, and there is none in the archive, or at least none the family agreed to publicize.

The note is just an appetizer. Shemer’s archive, recently moved to the National Library in Jerusalem, contains hundreds of recordings, drafts and personal letters, which reveal her character as far more complex than the tough image she liked to project.


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