by Gila Ansell Brauner


Interactive Hatikvah website
Do Hatikvah at your pace!
Live Hatikvah renditions and downloadable transliterations with multilingual translations now available from our 
Hatikvah Project website.

I. Points to Ponder

1. What are the different sources for Hatikvah [Note #6] and how do the sentiments compare with Psalm #126?[Note #5]

2. Reading about the different anthems and ideas for anthems [Note #5], what does Hatikvah have going for it?

3. What does it mean to people you know? What does it mean to you?

4. Do you think it needed to be legislated as Israel's National Anthem? If so, why? [Note #5] 
See also Section #6 Activity Ideas, below.

5. Is Hatikvah outdated? With what would you suggest it be replaced?

6. Write another verse of your own!

For more discussion ideas, and articles, please see below / our Hatikvah Resource page.

2. Overview

Hatikvah - The Hope
by Dulcy Leibler

A young man from Galicia, named Naphtali Herz Imber [1], inspired by the founding of Petah Tikvah in 1878, wrote a poem about his feelings.

A farmer from Rishon LeZion heard the poem and enjoyed it so much that he promptly set it to music.

The song, originally called "Tikvatenu" [2] (Our Hope), later became "Hatikvah," the national anthem of the State of Israel, lifting the spirits of Zionists around the world for over a century.

Naphtali Herz Imber was born in 1856 into a Hasidic family. He received a traditional education, and left home at an early age to wander around the world. He came to Palestine in 1882 and stayed for six years writing essays, poetry and articles for Hebrew periodicals.

Tikvatenu, one of Imber’s most popular poems, was first published in 1886, although it had initially been read in public as early as 1882 to a group of farmers in Rishon LeZion who received it enthusiastically. Among them was Samuel Cohen [3] who was born in Moldavia. He decided to set the poem to a traditional Moldavian-Rumanian folksong [4] called "Carul cu Boi" (Cart and Oxen).

During the 1880’s in Palestine, many tunes and adaptations became folksongs, no one thinking of copyrights. The "Tikvatenu" melody thus quickly became anonymous, and Imber’s association with it, all but forgotten.

"Hatikvah" was sung at the conclusion of the Sixth Zionist Congress in Basle in 1903, the last congress presided over by Theodor Herzl, who died tragically the following year. The anthem [5] was sung at all subsequent Zionist Congresses, and at the 18th Congress, held in Prague in 1933, it was officially confirmed as the Zionist anthem.

In 1892, the poet Imber settled in America, where he was married for a brief time. It was here that his second volume of poetry appeared in 1900 together with Talmudic literature translated into English. In spite of these intellectual achievements, however, he found it impossible to make a decent living in New York City, and in 1909, he died in poverty.

His poem lived on, becoming the unofficial anthem of Jewish Palestine under the British mandate. At the Declaration of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, "Hatikvah" was sung by the assembly at its opening ceremony.

The words of "Hatikvah" have a timeless relevance [6] for Jews everywhere, reinforced by both good and bad experiences - reinforced by wars and peace treaties alike. Naphtali Herz Imber’s words are as old as the Jewish people itself, yet they are also as young as the State of Israel, which took them to its heart.

Text by Dulcy Leibler is reproduced from the World Zionist Press Service, 
of the former WZO./JAFI © Department of Information

3. Transliterated Hatikvah

Hatikvah Guitar Chords

Kol od baleivav p’nima

Bm Em Bm
Kol od balevav pnima

Nefesh yehudi homia
Em Bm C#7 F#7 Bm
nefesh yehudi homiya
U-lfa'atei mizrach kadimah
Em A7 D
ulfa atey mizrakh kadima
Ayin letzion tzofia
Em Bm C#7 F#7 Bm
ayin leTzion tzofiya
Od lo avda tikvateinu
G A7 D
Od lo avda tikvatenu
Hatikvah bat shnot alpayim
G A7 D
hatikva bat shnot alpayim

Lih'yot am chofshi be'artzeinu

A(2-Em) D(2-Bm) Em A7 D
lih'yot am khofshi be artzenu
Eretz Tzion viY'rushalayim
Em Bm C#7 F#7 Bm
eretz Tzion viY'rushalayim.


4. Notes & Resource Links

Note [1] 
Naftali Herz Imber 1856-1909, born in Zloczow, Poland, lived for a relatively short time in Eretz Yisrael, but moved to England, then America, and died in New York on Simchat Torah. In 1953, his body was reinterred in the Givat Shaul Cemetery in Jerusalem.

Short biography and literary notes
Other biographies:

Note [2] 
The poem, "Tikvateinu" originally had nine verses and there was a first print version in 1895, although it was not published. It was adapted in 1897, when it was also sung at the First Zionist Congress in Basle, and it was adopted as the Congress hymn in 1933.

Hatikvah text version: 
- MFA: English, Hebrew, with sheet music and audio file

Original Tikvateinu (English)


All the competing songs for the Zionist Anthem and the Israeli National Anthem (except Shir HaMa'alot!), Hebrew only:

Note [3] 
There is a dispute as to whether the composer was Samuel Cohen or Nissan Belzer, but most sources give Samuel Cohen; this is authenticated by researchers Nakdimon Rogel, Cecil Bloom and others, as well as the late Professor Zvia Ganor .

Note [4] The origin of the melody is also under dispute, but this is easily clarified, pick the one you prefer! 
When Smetana composed Moldau/Ma Vlast (My Country) on the basis of a Moldavian folk tune, he was using an authentic source that was a popular folk tune in a number of European countries - he also had knowledge of Jewish music; Samuel Cohen was from Moldavia and the Moldavian tunes were commonly used.
There were apparently other Jewish liturgical sources, such as the Sephardi Hallel (17th century) and Tefillat Tal, the Prayer for Rain. There is also a source in early 17th Catholic liturgical music, which may have been the original for all of these. 
See also

In either case, there would consequently have been no copyright infringement - not thatSamuel Cohen ever received any fee for his composition, either!

Hatikvah - audio & video:

The Knesset:
3 different orchestrated/keyboard midi files, Windows Media, fast download; transliteration of Hebrew 
Sheet music file 
Guitar chords, with transliteration, from Bekol Ram (C) WZO/JAFI 
4 renditions by Israeli artistes, streamed video,7340,L-3388617,00.html

Note [5] Another candidate for Zionist anthem in 1897 was Psalm #126, the "Shir Hama'alot" before Birkat Hamazon (Grace after Meals), which speaks of the Return to Zion and sung by the famous Chazan (Cantor) Yossele Rosenblatt. Indeed, it was more popular in the early years, and both were often sung, even after adoption of Hatikvah.

Note [6] 
Hatikvah also carries echoes of lines from the Prophet Ezekiel 37:11 [ Our hope] . See also exercise in [5] above.

5.  Activity Ideas

Try out our new Interactive Hatikvah website

Hatikvah Legislation 
A law was passed by the Knesset, formalizing Hatikvah's status as Israel's National Anthem in November 2004. 
Please read the attached article from early 2005 about the 2004 Hatikvah law, in pdf formatFAQ Q#4

Hatikvah Status
Discuss the impact and importance of having the Israeli anthem sung at public and international events. See Discussion Articles below.

More Activities from our Website: 

1. Ben Gurion & the Symbols of State
Jerusalem Journeys, by Steve Israel. 

2. Reflections on Hatikvah

A. Explore the meaning of Hatikvah and its sources [incl. Yehudah HaLevi]. 
Now compare how it is written with the somewhat longer[!] Ma'oz Tzur.
To whom is each written? 
Is there any similarity of message or style?


B. Review how relevant - or otherwise - the messages seem today, both in Israel and the Diaspora.

C. Would you change or supplement the wording of HATIKVAH - and how - in view of: 
- any particular event in modern Jewish or Israeli history; 
- the existence of ethnic minorities [large and small] in the modern State of Israel? 

Reproduced from:

Best of the Web
Pre-2004 discussion of Hatikvah and its position as Israel's National Anthem: [Source: Jerusalem Post, Carl Schrag]

Comparative exercise
 and [6] below.

Clarification activity on personal connections to Hatikvah

Study of Hatikvah and Ha'emunah, another anthem candidate, with article by Rav Kook, worksheet  

Discussion Articles- Current Issues:

Hagshama, WZO:
Don't Sing but Show Respect, by Shlomo Avineri

Majadele refuses to sing national anthem, Amnon Meranda, 17th March 2007,7340,L-3377681,00.html

New York Times:
New Lyrics for Israel, Adam LeBor, 18th June 2007  
'Soul' of an anthem, Jewish or Israeli? [Response], 20th June 2007 

6. Text, Audio & Video Resources

The Knesset

MFA [Israel Ministry for Foreign Affairs]
audio file [384KB], mini-sheet music, Hebrew, English 

Ingeb Folk Songs
3 different orchestrated/keyboard midi files, Windows Media, fast download; transliteration of Hebrew

4 renditions by Israeli artistes, streamed video,7340,L-3388617,00.html

Sheet Music

With transliteration and vocalized Hebrew

National Anthems Net
Sheet music file


BBC Radio 
Liberation of Bergen Belsen concentration camp, 1945: Holocaust survivors sing Hatikvah (FW to 1:20 min; singing begins at 2:58 min). Unofficial copy. Movie contains disturbing images. Not suitable for under 14.

Google Video
Young children singing Hatikvah in Munkacz, Hungary, March1933 (FW to 2:50 min)

Israel Olympics Educational Website [Hebrew]
Athens 2004: Hatikvah after award of gold medal to Gal Fridman for windsurfing. 
Munich 2002 European Championship: Hatikvah after award of gold medal to Alex Averbuch for pole vaulting.

7. Hebrew Resources & Hatikvah Presentations

Large font, vocalized Hebrew, transliteration, translation

If you want to try some easy interactive exercises on Hatikvah in Hebrew , go to this website 

For further questions, assignments and discussion in Hebrew, at a more advanced level, try

Reactions, other anthems, clarication activity on Your/My Hatikvah in Hebrew [1998], for older participants

Assignments on Imber, Hatikvah, Shoah, in Hebrew

Symbols of Israel, background and images,1,Slide 1
Symbols of Israel,1,Slide1
Symbols Project, positions for discussion,1,Slide 1





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30 Apr 2015 / 11 Iyar 5775 0