Tikvah in the Hebrew language means hope. The title of the state of Israel national anthem is ‘ Ha’Tikvah’ – which mans, ‘The Hope’.
The text of Ha’Tikvah was written in 1878, in Zolochiv, Galicia, a historical region in Eastern Europe, by the Jewish poet Naphtali Herz Imber.
Originally it was a nine-stanza poem named Tikvateynu, meaning ‘Our Hope’. Imber’s poem describes his thoughts and feelings in the wake of the establishment of Petach Tikvah, one of the first Jewish settlements in Ottoman Palestine.
Subsequently, the poem was adopted as the anthem of Chovevei Zion, considered the forerunners and foundation-builders of modern Zionism. It was later known as the Zionist Movement at the First Zionist Congress in 1897. Also, it served as the anthem of several Jewish settlements in the 1880s.
The origin of Ha’Tikvah’s melody is disputed. It is either based on a common European folk tune, La Mantovana, ‘Gasparo Zannetti – La Mantovana’: , or, a Romanian folk-song tune ‘Carul cu boi’, . It was finally arranged by Samuel Cohen, an immigrant from Bessarabia, a historical region in Eastern Europe bounded by the Dniester River on the east and the Prut River on the west.
On May 14, 1948 – 5 Iyar, 5708, at 16:00 PM, David Ben-Gurion opened the State of Israel Independence Declaration ceremony by banging his gavel on the table, prompting a spontaneous rendition of Ha’Tikvah, not yet, officially proclaimed as the national anthem, sang by the 250 guests. Though was known to be the national anthem, only in November 2004, when the Israeli Parliament Knesset sanctioned it in an amendment to the Flag and Coat-of-Arms Law, now renamed, the Flag, Coat-of-Arms, and National Anthem Law, Ha’Tikvah became the State of Israel official national anthem.
Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook was the Chief Rabbi before Israel was re-established. As a world renown poet and philosopher, in the early 20th century he wrote the poem, Ha’Emunah, The Faith, as an alternative anthem to Ha’Tikvah. Though he respected secular Zionists and their work, Rabbi Kook was in the opinion that Ha’Tikvah was lacking the name of the Creator. Ha’Emunah, the Faith, refers to the three Jewish pilgrimage festivals – Passover, Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Tabernacles) during which, when the Holy Temples stood, Jews came to Jerusalem to celebrate. Rabbi Cook’s alternate national anthem for the State of Israel places the Torah as the central component of the Jewish People’s returning to their Land of Israel, and sees this process as a bigger step for the redemption of Israel, and by extension, the world.
In its modern rendition, the official text of the anthem, Ha’Tikvah, incorporates only the first stanza of the poem. The predominant theme in the remaining stanzas is the establishment of a sovereign and free nation in the Land of Israel, a hope that was fulfilled with the founding of the State of Israel.
The emphasis is the anthem is twofold: ‘To be a free people in our land,’ and ‘The land of Zion and Jerusalem.’
This year I was invited to attend Israel’s independence Day celebration party given by the Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles, California.
Though it was an elegant party, as for me, it was not Israeli enough, it had no national tune to it. The multiculturalism atmosphere was profound.
What bothered and irked me greatly was that we did not sing our Ha’Tikvah; strangers sang our anthem for us.
Usually and especially during Israel’s Independence Day celebrations, the gathered celebrating crowd signs Ha’Tikvah. Not this time. It was sung by a talented, but funky, group of American, not even Jewish, kids, who had no connection to the song nor did they understand the deep meaning of its words to the Jewish people. For them it was merely a performance, lacking all Israeli nationalistic posture.
A nation’s anthem and flag are the icons that unite its People into one. No matter where the ceremony takes place and to what country it relates, when the subject nation’s national flag is displayed and the national anthem is sung, the citizens of that country become emotional along their signing of their anthem. More so Israelis, their Jewish nation has struggled for 2000 to get its Homeland back. More so for Israelis who are still fighting for full independence and everlasting peace.
The State of Israel is the only country on earth its legitimacy is questioned and challenged and its citizens are, collectively, the target of anti-Semitism, in the form of boycotts, divestment, sanctions, dehumanization, demonization and delegitimization. The Arabs and their enablers are out to demolish the Zionist enterprise.
When, the Consul General of the Jewish State of Israel farms out the singing of the national anthem, Ha’Tikvah, to non-Israelis who do not even speak Hebrew, he has made the first step to relinquish Israel’s sovereignty, even as a symbolic gesture. And Israel’s enemies are waiting at the door for such gesture.
Over five million Israelis and many Israel’s supporters around the world are on alert, from morning to night, to make sure the state of Israel is protected and defended. I am one of them.
I do not want to ever be part of any celebration in which our anthem is sung by anyone other than us. And when it is sung I want to see the sparkle of the tears of joy in each person singing, eyes.
Ha’Tikvah is the hope, the expectation, the anticipation, the wish and optimism each and every Israeli and Israel’s supporter has. To have an ever lasting peace so that the state of Israel can fulfill its mission to be light unto all other nations and the guiding force in the full redemption of Israel, and by extension, the world.
Ha’Tikvah versions renditions in order of favoritism:
Hatikva at Bergen-Belsen as WWII ended:
Hatikva-The National Anthem of Israel
Hatikva the Brazilian Way
Heavy metal Marty Friedman -“Hatikva”