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Israel National Symbols: National Anthem (Hatikvah)

Naftali Herz Imber

The title of the Israeli national anthem is Hatikvah, which means “The Hope” in Hebrew. It was written in Palestine in the early 1880s by Naftali Herz Imber, a Galician Jew, and then set to music. Though used as an anthem, it did not officially become the national song until a vote by the Knesset on November 10, 2004.

Hatikva is about the undying hope of the Jewish people, through the long years of exile, that they would someday return to independence in their homeland.

In 70 C.E., Titus led his Roman soldiers in their destruction of Jerusalem. Most of the Jews were carried away as captives and scattered across the lands of the world.

During the two thousand years of exile, the Jewish people always kept a heartfelt prayer in their hearts for return to Israel. They said special daily prayers for return and they celebrated the holidays according to Israeli seasons and calendar. This is the message of the Hatikvah’s first stanza. Zion is another name for Israel and Jerusalem. When the Jewish people pray their eyes, hearts, and prayers are directed toward Israel and Jerusalem. For many long painful years, the land of Israel was in the hands of foreigners. The Jews who lived in Palestine were not free. Yet their hope for freedom and independence never died.

The second stanza of the Hatikva recalls the undying hope of Jews through the generation, Jews who lived in other countries and Jews who had remained in Palestine.

When Hatikva is sung together, we are making a promise that we will never forget the undying Jewish hope for independence and that we will do all within our power to help the State of Israel prosper.

In the Jewish heart
A Jewish spirit still sings,

And the eyes look east
Toward Zion.

Our hope is not lost,
Our hope of two thousand years,

To be a free nation in our land,
In the land of Zion and Jerusalem

Kol ode balevav P'nimah -
Nefesh Yehudi homiyah

Ulfa'atey mizrach kadimah
Ayin l'tzion tzofiyah.

Ode lo avdah tikvatenu
Hatikvah bat shnot alpayim:

L'hiyot am chofshi b'artzenu
Eretz Tzion v'Yerushalayim


Sources: Joint Authority for Jewish Zionist Education in the Diaspora in Canada.
Hatikvah Officially Declared National Anthem, Center for Israel Education.

Photo: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.