“Soundtrack for Generations”: Artists and Ministers bid farewell to Yoram Taherlev

Many mourners gathered at Tel Aviv’s Habima National Theater Friday morning to offer their final greetings to Israeli poet and poet Yoram Taharlev, who died the day before at his home at the age of 83.

Taharlev wrote more than 1,000 songs, including 100 works for the army’s musical entertainment troupes, such as “Yishnan Banut” (“There were girls”) and “Givat Hathmushit” (“Ammonition Hill”).

Visitors, including artists and several politicians, paid their respects while some of Taharlev’s most prominent songs played in the background. Hundreds of people accompanied him as he was buried later that day in Kibbutz Yagor, where he was born.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that only six months ago he went to one of Taharlev’s shows. “I rejoice in every moment…I let a little hoarseness, and most of all happiness and contentment.”

“With a wonderful mixture of humor and seriousness, I composed the Army soundtrack, which has accompanied us soldiers for decades and still accompanies us and will continue to do so in the future,” Gantz said.

Transport Minister Merav Michaeli said, “Taharlev’s soundtrack is a unique blend of patriotism and patriotism. [fellow] Someone who is romantic, painstaking and always with a sense of humor. This human voice is needed in Israel today more than ever, and it will always accompany us.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on the heels of songwriter and poet Yoram Taherlev before his funeral in Tel Aviv, January 7, 2022 (Elad Malka/Defense Ministry)

Culture and Sports Minister “Taharlev wrote too many words and communicates with countless Israelis in moments of love and death, joy and sorrow, on a trip in the country, in meetings, in moments of longing, and in various life experiences.” Chile Trooper said.

“Not many succeed in being the soundtrack to many generations of grandparents, fathers, and children. It has succeeded. You are not anymore, but your spirit and your words go on with us. Rest in peace,” Trooper added.

Poet Yoram Taharlev died Thursday, January 6, 2022, the author of more than 1,000 songs that are part of Israeli culture. (Courtesy Yoram Taharlev website)

On Thursday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, upon hearing of Taharlev’s death, said: “His songs have accompanied the country for years – in sorrow and joy, in times of war and peace. He died but his work will be with us forever.”

Taharlev was born in 1938 on Kibbutz Yagor, where his parents lived in a small room with no indoor plumbing, running water or “the slightest trace of privacy,” he later wrote on his website.

His parents, Chaim Taherlev (formerly Tarlovsky) and Yaffa Itzikovic, came from Lithuania to build a new state and met in Yagor.

Taharlev remained on the kibbutz until he was 26, working there—”he was not usually successful,” he said—in various jobs, including beekeeping, fruit picking, and gardening.

His career as a lyricist took off when he moved to Tel Aviv. His songs, recorded by major groups and singers in Israel, were constantly played on the radio – then the heyday of local pop culture.

“Of course, not every song I wrote was an instant hit,” Taharlev wrote on his website. “Some of my songs were put in a drawer, and I never saw the light of day until this site was set up. Others were recorded, but for one reason or another, they couldn’t.”

Taharlev ended up posting songs that were never produced on his site believing they should be given a second chance. He invited young singers and composers to take a look and “see if something caught their eye.”

He began his career as a lyricist when he was about seven years old, he wrote, when his parents bought a special notebook for writing and kept in their house – though he slept in a “children’s house” with other kibbutz children, as was the custom then – in The bottom drawer of the closet.

On Saturday, June 29, 1946, known as Black Saturday, Yagor besieged British forces searching for illegal weapons and paramilitaries.

The adults from the kibbutz, including Taharlev’s parents, were taken to prison for four months. British forces excavated floors and basements and found caches of weapons, including under the children’s house. They threw away their personal belongings, including Taharlev’s private notebook, which was hidden in his parents’ house.

“For days I’ve been chasing every leaf I saw blown in the wind hoping I could get even one page out of the notebook, but I’ve never found it, and to this day I haven’t been able to recreate my first poem,” he wrote.

He has since sworn that he will copy everything he has written and learn it by heart, “so that no one can take it from me again.”

Taharlev filled numerous notebooks with hundreds of songs and poems during his decades as a lyricist, and published collections of his songs, poetry volumes, books with Jewish and Israeli themes, and children’s books, totaling more than 70 books.

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