Haim Hefer one of Israel’s unquestionable cultural icons, and Israel Prize laureate, died yesterday in Tel Aviv at the age of 86.
His coffin will be in public view in The New Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv from 13:00 today, before it is buried this evening in the artists village of Ein Hod.
Born in the Polish town of Sosnowice in 1925, Hefer’s family moved to Myslowice that Hefer described as a very important town for the Jews as “Bilaik lived and wrote there for at least a year.”
Even if you think you don’t know his work, you might be wrong. If you know some of the “good old songs of Eretz Yisrael”, then you probably know some of Hefer’s work. His songs can be found throughout the sound track of the State of Israel. “The Red Rock”, “Yes, It’s Possible” and “In Those Days” are just a few of his iconic creations.
At the age of 11 he came on aliyah to Mandatory Palestine with the Machanot Ha’Olim youth movement, and by the age of 17 he was already a fighter in the Palmach.
When he first arrived, Hefer was speaking classical Hebrew, and used Hebrew expressions of a previous age as a result of the Hebrew classes he took before coming on aliyah. At first his classmates from Raanana would give him a hard time for his Ivrit, but very quickly he managed to integrate. In a Haaretz interview from a few years ago, talking about his early days in Palestine, he is reported as saying “I never denied my origins, but I knew Hebrew. That’s the whole deal.”
Here Harel Skat interviews him for Channel 2 (no English translation)
Here is a Channel 1 clip in which Achinoam Nini sings just to Hefer. At the end he says “I have never heard such a beautiful rendition in my life”
Another Channel 1 clip of a collection of his songs is here
Hefer made it clear that he doesn’t want Kaddish or El Maaleh Rachamim recited at his funeral, but rather “I’d prefer a little Sacha Argov.”