Hebrew songbook on the web

Ehud Manor: "HebrewSongs.com penetrates my soul and my veins. This is my home."

September 7, 2006 11:30
2 minute read.
music note 88

music note 88. (photo credit: )


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Name 25 Israeli singers or 25 Hebrew songs that remain popular regardless of the passage of time. The answers lie within a couple of non-Israeli linked Web sites designed in Australia by Aura Levin Lipski. A singer/guitarist, songwriter and communications trainer, Lipski's original intent was to preserve the text of an old songbook. The oldest of three siblings, she had grown up listening to Hebrew songs. A professional cabaret, concert hall, radio and television performer whose repertoire obviously extended beyond such songs, Lipski (who performed at the first Jewish concerts in the Soviet Union after glasnost and perestroika) downscaled her musical career after her marriage to take care of her babies and an ailing stepfather. The dual responsibilities took their toll, and a friend persuaded her that she needed a feel-good outlet. She had always loved to dance, so she joined an Israeli folk-dancing group that met once a week. One of the women in the group had an Israeli songbook and printed up the lyrics so the dancers could know the meaning of their dances. "We used to sit around after class, sing the songs and have a marvelous time," recalls Lipski, who was recently in Israel. The group eventually dispersed, but a couple of years later, when cleaning out her closets, Lipski came across the songbook and decided the texts shouldn't go to waste. She published them in Hebrew, in transliteration and translation, and that's how Hebrew Songs.com was born. Every song was typed manually, every link was thoroughly researched, "and the labor of love that would take over my life began," said Levin Lipski. The venture became multi-directional as people from around the world began to send her songs, as well as requests for the lyrics of songs to which they only knew the tunes. Today the site includes more than 3,500 songs, including some in Yiddish. The major thrust of requests has been for songs related to Israeli dances. People asking for the lyrics in translation and transliteration want to know the meaning behind these dances. As the Israeli dance world became a worldwide industry, the internet became a means of connectivity between practitioners, with organizers of dance camps worldwide e-mailing Israeli Dances.com. Lipski never ceases to be amazed by the number of groups and individuals - most of them not Jewish - that contact her. Through some of these e-mails she has made both personal friends and friends for Israel. The links are wonderfully informative, with A-Z access to Israeli and Jewish singers, songwriters, composers, musicians and poets, the songs they sing, the lyricists and composers and also the translators and transliterators, with the e-mail addresses of the latter. There is information about dance festivals and workshops - and whoever wants to be well versed on the Israeli hit parade has an instant link to Reshet Gimmel. There are also transliterations of the entire Book of Psalms, from which so many Hebrew songs have been taken. When the late Ehud Manor and his son visited Australia, Lipski invited them to her home and told them about the site. When they expressed interest in seeing it, she thought they were just being polite, but she sat them down at the computer and proceeded to explain. They quickly got the hang of it, she recalls, and spent two hours browsing. Afterward, she asked Manor for a dedication. A couple of days later he handed her a sheet of paper: "HebrewSongs.com penetrates my soul and my veins. This is my home."

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