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HA-TIKVAH (Heb. הַתִּקְוָה; "The Hope"), anthem of the Zionist movement, and national anthem of the State of Israel. The poem was written by Naphtali Herz *Imber , probably in Jassy in 1878, and first published as "Tikvatenu" ("Our Hope") in his Barkai, 1886 (with the misleading note "Jerusalem 1884"). Its inspiration seems to have been the news of the founding of *Petaḥ Tikvah ; the themes of the poem, together with those of Imber's "Mishmar ha-Yarden" ("Guarding the Jordan"), show the influence of the German "Die Wacht am Rhein" and "Der Deutsche Rhein" (the "River" and "As long as" motives) and the Polish patriots' song which became the national anthem of the Polish republic ("Poland is not lost yet, while we still live"). In 1882 Imber read the poem to the farmers of *Rishon le-Zion , who received it with enthusiasm. Soon afterward – probably in the same year - Samuel Cohen, who had come to Palestine from Moldavia in 1878 and settled in Rishon le-Zion, set the poem to a melody which he consciously based on a Moldavian-Romanian folk song, "Carul cu Boi" ("Cart and Oxen"). In an atmosphere in which new songs and adaptations became folk songs almost overnight because folk songs were needed, and at a time when no one thought of copyright, the melody became anonymous in an astonishingly swift process of collective amnesia. Thus even Abraham Zvi *Idelsohn , who settled in Jerusalem in 1906, approached it as a purely folkloric phenomenon; in his Thesaurus (vol. 4, 1923) he published the first of his comparative analyses of the melody, which have been widely accepted and copied since, not always with the proper credit. The true history of "Ha-Tikvah" was rediscovered independently by Menashe *Ravina and by an Israel amateur musicologist, Eliahu Hacohen. The Moldavian "Carul cu Boi" is itself only one of the innumerable incarnations of a certain well known melodic type (or pattern) found throughout Europe in both major and minor scale versions. Probably the earliest printed version of "Ha-Tikvah" with its melody is found in S.T. Friedland, Vier Lieder mit Benutzung syrischer Melodien… (Breslau, 1895).

Many, but not all, of the changes which intervened between the original text and early forms of the melody of "Ha-Tikvah" and the current version can still be retraced through songbooks, memoirs, etc. Some of these arose spontaneously; others were made on purpose, either to modify the text according to contemporary opinion or literary criteria, or to achieve the Sephardi syllable-stress instead of the old-fashioned Ashkenazi stress of the original. The standard harmonization is the one established in 1948 by the Italian conductor Bernardino Molinari, who orchestrated "Ha-Tikvah" for the *Israel Philharmonic Orchestra; another orchestration by Paul *Ben-Haim is also current. The first English translation of the poem was made by Israel *Zangwill , the first German one by Heinrich *Loewe . In religious Zionist families there is a tradition of singing Psalm 126 (Be-Shuv Adonai et Shivat-Ẓiyyon) with the *zemirot to the melody of "Ha-Tikvah." The words can be found in several of the traditional collections of religious poetry published in Near Eastern communities during the past 50 years, and "Ha-Tikvah" was therefore entered by Israel *Davidson in his Oẓar.

Two competitions for a Zionist anthem, the first proclaimed in Die Welt in 1898 and the second by the Fourth Zionist Congress in 1900, came to nothing because of the unsatisfactory quality of the songs composed or suggested. At the Fifth Zionist Congress in Basle in 1901 one of the sessions concluded with the singing of what was still called "Tikvatenu." During the Sixth Zionist Congress (Basle, 1903), it was sung by dissenting factions. The Seventh Zionist Congress (Basle, 1905) ended with an "enormously moving singing of 'Ha-Tikvah' by all present," a moment which can be said to have confirmed its status. Although already proposed by David *Wolffsohn , the formal declaration of "Ha-Tikvah" as the Zionist anthem was only made at the 18th Zionist Congress in Prague in 1933. Under the Mandate, "Ha-Tikvah" was the unofficial anthem of Jewish Palestine. At the Declaration of the State on May 14th, 1948, it was sung by the assembly at the opening of the ceremony and played by members of the Palestine Symphony Orchestra at its conclusion. However, "Ha-Tikvah" has not been given official status as a national anthem by a proclamation of the Knesset.


JC (Jan. 3, 1902), 32; (Aug. 28, 1903), viii and passim; (Aug. 4, 1905), 24; (Aug. 11, 1905), 19; Idelsohn, Melodien, 4 (1923), 116; 9 (1932), xix; Idelsohn, Music, 222–3; E. Hacohen, in: Gittit, no. 37 (June 1968), 4–5; M. Ravina, Ha-Tikvah (Heb., 1969), incl. bibl.; Goell, Bibliography, 895–900.

[Bathja Bayer]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.