In 1929, 86 years ago, for the Holiday of Shavuot-Pentecost, Levin Kipnis wrote the early Hebrew song ‘Baskets on our shoulders,’ an Israeli children’s song that is sung to date.
Yedidya Admon wrote the tune to the song and many artists recorded it, among them the singer Yaffa Yarkoni.
The poet’s song version is as follows:
Baskets on our heads,
Our heads are decorated,
From all corners of the land we arrived,
We brought the first fruits.
From Yehuda-Judea, Yehuda, from Shomron-Samaria,
From the valley, from the Gallil-Galilee –
Clear the road for us,
Our first fruits with us,
Bang, bang the drum and bang the flute!
About Levin Kipnis
Levin Kipnis, who lived between 1894-1990, was an Israeli children’s story writer and a poet, who wrote mostly in Hebrew and also in Yiddish, and in 1978 became Israel’s Prize Laureate for children’s literature.
Kipnis was born in a flimsy shack to Pesach Kipnis and Rachel Broizman, a family of 10 children, in the small town Ushomir, in the Volhynian Governorate, in the Jewish area of the Russian Empire, now in Ukraine, Russia. His father, a shliach tzibbur – a prayer leader, sent Levin to study in a Cheder – Jewish religious learning centre, which he did not like because of the strict discipline. From a young age, Levin showed passion for the arts, painting and woodcarving. In 1913, Kipnis moved to the Land of Israel and studied arts at the School for the Arts, Bezalel.
Levin Kipnis’ Songs
Plight for content for kindergarten children in the Land of Israel led him to write songs to fit the young educational needs of the time and his first song was “A beautiful menorah”:
A beautiful menorah
Gives us light.
Tells me, sings for me
About freedom and liberty.
The song ‘Baskets on our shoulders,’ was written by Levin Kipnis following a decision by the Ministry of Education, the National Committee and the Jewish National Fund looking to resume the custom of bringing first fruits during the Shavuot-Shavuot Holiday.
The song originally consisted of one verse, but later Kipnis added two more verses.
The song was inspired by the words from the Mishnah dealing with Bikkurim – first fruit, Chapter 3: sub-chapter 2-4.
Although the song seems innocent, it was written as part of a political struggle that took place in the Land of Israel during the twenties and thirties!
What bothers me about the song is the line: “From Yehuda-Judea, from Judea and Shomron-Samaria.” In 1954, I was only seven years old and Judea and Samaria were beyond the wire of the armistice line between Israel and Jordan, the illegal conqueror of the land. I already then knew that Judea and Samaria were part of the State of Israel. Levin Kipnis knew this in 1929, before the State of Israel grew flesh, tendons and skin.
In 2015, in the eyes of many in Israel and abroad, the land of Judea and Samaria is considered to be “occupied,” and is still called “West Bank,” area. In the eyes of too many, its ownership is disputed.
The Jewish communities there are considered “illegal settlements” and we, Jews, are told that we are illegally living on this ancient Jewish land, land that may have not yet been included under Israel’s sovereignty but is part of the Land of Israel in ancient and modern history.
Until we, Jews, start believing in what is ours, and disallow the world to steal from us what belongs to us, Judea and Samaria will remain a song that had deep and profound meaning to real Zionists, not to the 21 century Tel-Avivians, not to the politically incorrect and adversary Jewish media and not even to the clueless Israelis politicians.
Remember the saying, “who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” ~actual quote from George Orwell’s “1984.”
Bad history telling is a powerful instrument for gaining political power. Nowhere is the abuse of history is more rampant than when it comes to the history of the Jews in the Land of Israel.
By all rights as the victor, in 1967 Israel could have, as it SHOULD HAVE, incorporated into the state of Israel what was named by Jordan “West Bank,” which is the ancient land of Judea and Samaria, on the very same eternal wages of war that led to the American Southwest being incorporated into the United States, after the 1846-1848 war with Mexico, or of Prussian’ Germany incorporated into Poland after World War II.
Israelis, keep on singing the lovely song, ‘Baskets on our shoulders,’ it may inspire you to exchange your wrong with what is right.