Monday, December 26, 2011

Ofra Haza: Yerushalayim Shel Zahav

Ofra Haza performs (Hebrew: ירושלים של זהב‎), Yerushalayim Shel Zahav ("Jerusalem of Gold"), which Naomi Shemer [1930-2004] composed in 1967.


Ofra Haza [1957-2000], the Israeli-born singer of international fame, has been described as a mezzo-soprano of near-perfect tonality, which is clear in this heartfelt performance of the song at Pa'amonei Hayovel ("Bells of the Jubilee"), Israel's 50th anniversary celebration in 1998.

Haza's story as a singer and what she represents to Israelis is poetically summed up here in The Jerusalem Post tribute to her in 2000: "Raised as the youngest of nine children to a traditional Yemenite family in the Hatikva neighborhood of Tel Aviv, Haza's fairy-tale climb to fame and fortune has become the stuff of local legend."

Ofra Haza died of Aids-related pneumonia on February 23, 2000. She was 42. Her beautifully inspiring voice, ringing clearly like a bell, will be missed. She was a singer for all people.