Israeli Love Songs on Stamps

On Mar-21, 2017, the Israeli Post issued a series of 12 stamps commemorating popular Israeli love songs. The songs included were composed as early as the 1920’s and as late as the early 1990’s and are Israeli evergreens, being sung oftentimes in song contests and at weddings. Many of them have been covered by more than one artist, contributing therefore to their already ‘classical’ status.

The 12 stamps were issued in a sheet format that was not novel for the Israeli post. Three other similar sheets were issued in the past, commemorating Israeli singers, songs for children, and music albums. The structure of the sheet contains a central vignette and 12 stamps set out clockwise on all four sides of the sheet. Each stamp features an illustration and a text in print or handwriting Hebrew. The text represents either the first stanza of the song, or the chorus.

עטור מצחך זהב שחור – Your Forehead, Bedecked in Gold and Black

[in transliteration: Atur Mitzchech Zahav Shachor] Lyrics: Avraham Chalfi, Melody: Yoni Rechter; first sung by Arik Einstein in 1977. The text represents the first stanza of the song:

עטור מצחך זהב שחור
אינני זוכר אם כתבו כך בשיר

Your forehead, bedecked in gold and black / I don’t remember if that’s what they wrote in the song …

ברית עולם – A Covenant with the World

[in transliteration: Brit Olam] Lyrics: Ehud Manor, Melody: Matti Caspi, first sung by Matti Caspi in 1975. The text represents the first stanza of the song:

עוד מעט, כמעט
אנו גוף אחד –
את ידך נתת
בידי שלי – לעד

Just a little more, almost / We are just one body / You gave in your hands / into my hands / for eternity….

לכל אחד יש – Everyone Has

[in transliteration: Le-khol ekhad yesh] Lyrics and Melody: Uzi Chitman, its best known version is sung in duet by Shlomi Shabat and Lior Narkis. The text represents the beginning of the chorus:

ואת הנשמה המתוקה שלי
היחידה שמדליקה אותי

And you, the sweet heart of mine / the friend who lit a fire in me… 

זמר נוגה – A Sad Song

[in transliteration: Zemer Nugeh] Lyrics: Rachel, Melody: Mordechai Zaira, Shmuel Kraus, Zohar Levy, Yosef Moustaki. Its best known version has been interpreted by singer Ofra Haza. The song got a lot more popular attention when Rona Ramon sent it to her husband Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut, who died in the Columbia space shuttle. You can read about some Ilan Ramon stamps in my article A Moon Landscape. An Inspiring Story of Stamps. The text represents the first verse of the first stanza:

התשמע קולי
רחוקי שלי
התשמע קולי
באשר הנך

You shall hear my voice / when you are away from me / and you shall hear my voice / wherever you are…

היו לילות – And There Were Nights

[in transliteration: Hayu Leylot] Lyrics: Yaakov Orland, Melody: Mordechai Zeira. First sung by Esther Ofarim. The text represents the opening verse of the song:

היו לילות, אני אותם זוכרת
אני אותם עד סוף ימי אשא

And there were nights, I will always remember those nights / I will travel through them until the end of my days …

סליחות – Forgiveness

[in transliteration: Slikhot] Lyrics: Leah Goldberg, Melody: Oded Lerer, first sung by Yehudit Ravitz in 1980. The text represents the opening verse:

באת אלי את עיני לפקוח,
וגופך לי מבט וחלון וראי

You came to me, to open my eyes / For me, your body was a view, a window, and a mirror …

הפרח בגני – A Flower in My Garden

[in transliteration: Ha-perakh ba-gani] Lyrics and Melody: Avihu Medina, first performed in 1982 by Zohar Argov. The text represents the end of the chorus:

את בדמי ברוחי ולבבי
את הניחוח המתוק
הפרח בגני

And you are in my blood, in my breath, and in my heart / And you are the sweet fragrance / The flower in my garden…

כשאור דולק בחלונך – As Light Reflects in Your Window

[in transliteration: Kshe’or dolek ba-khalonekh] Lyrics: Amos Ettinger, Melody: Alexander Argov, first sung by the trio Gesher ha Yarkon in 1964. The text represents the chorus:

הן יש לך שם דברים רבים לומר לי בלבך
כשאור דולק, דולק בחלונך

Because you have important things you wish to tell me in your heart / When the light reflects, reflects in your window …

תפוחים ותמרים – Apples and Dates

[in transliteration: T’pukhim ve-tmarim] Lyrics: Eitan Glass, Melody: Rami Kleinstein, first sung by the couple Rami & Rita Kleinstein in 1995. The song is the most recent song from the entire stamp compilation. The text gives the beginning verse of the chorus:

קחי לך תפוחים ותמרים
המתיקי את יומך

Buy for yourself apples and dates / make your days sweeter this way …

רוזה רוזה – Rosa, Rosa

[in transliteration: Roza, Roza] Lyrics: Haim Hefer, Melody: Dubi Seltzer, played in the 1960’s by several artists. The text gives the chorus:

רוזה רוזה רוזה רוזה
את אהובה שלי
כמה שירים עוד לך אחרוזה
עד שתהיי אשתי

Rosa, Rosa, Rosa, Rosa / You are my real love / How many songs sung to you you will gather / Until you are my wife…

פגישה לעין קץ – Meeting in Eternity

[in transliteration: Pgisha le-eyn-ketz] Lyrics: Natan Alterman, Melody: Naomi Shemer, first sung by the Shlosharim trio in 1969. The text gives the opening lines of the song:

כי סערת עלי, לנצח אנגנך
שוא חומה אצור לך, שוא אציב דלתיים

As storm gets me, I will conquer your anchor / In vain the wall hides you, in vain it hides the door…

הכניסיני תחת כנפך – Take Me under Your Wing

[in transliteration: Hekhnisini takhat knafekh] Lyrics: H.N. Bialik, Melody: Alexander Krane, Shmuel Alman, Paul Ben Haim, Menachen Avidom, Nurit Hirsch, Miki Gavrielov. This song is an exemplary evergreen, its text having been composed in 1905 by the poet Hayim Nahman Bialik. Its most known interpretation is attributed to Arik Einstein. The text gives the opening lines of the song:

הכניסיני תחת כנפך
והיי לי אם ואחות
ויהי חיקך מקלט ראשי
קן תפילותי הנידחות

Take me under your wing / Be a mother, be a sister to me / And be a safe place for my head to rest / Be a vessel for my most intimate prayers …

Stamps featured in post: 12; Period: contemporary (2017); Pricing: moderate; Availability: still available to purchase at the time of publication of this article.

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