Carlebach voices new ‘Hatikva’ at ‘Post’ Conference

Neshama Carlebach hopes her controversial new version of “Hatikva” will “inspire a a process of healing.”

April 29, 2012 01:00
3 minute read.

NESHAMA CARLEBACH 370 . (photo credit: Courtesy:


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NEW YORK – Although many of the more than 1,000 people expected to attend The Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York on Sunday will come to hear the likes of newsmakers Ehud Olmert, Gabi Ashkenazi, Meir Dagan, Ron Prosor and Alan Dershowitz, the highlight for some might just be the concluding concert of Jewish soul singer Neshama Carlebach.

Never one to shy away from telling the truth as she sees it, Carlebach hopes her controversial new version of “Hatikva” recorded for Israel’s 64th Independence Day, will “inspire a a process of healing.”

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“I’m very excited about my performance,” Carlebach – the daughter of the late singer/songwriter Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach – told The Jerusalem Post during a rehearsal with the Green Pastures Baptist Choir on Friday. “To be invited to an event of this stature is a very great honor. It’s amazing that it’s in New York, where I have my whole team, so it’s a perfect place.”

Carlebach said that she would perform some new arrangements of her father’s work, and the new version of “Hatikva,” which rewrites the national anthem to allow both Jews and Arabs to relate to the words.

The Forward in New York wanted to create a more inclusive version of ‘Hatikva,’ and I think it was a very controversial move, because to change the lyrics to a precious song like ‘Hatikva’ is a very big statement,” Carlebach said. “They called me and we spoke about it at length and I was very honored to have been asked to sing it.”

The new ‘Hatikva,’ which features some of the original lyrics and some new lyrics, was released for Independence Day. The singer said her new anthem, which she aims to be more inclusive, has sparked debate.

“It’s not about leaving the world we were in behind; it’s about opening our doors wider. I feel that if the world sees, in my own humble opinion, that Israel is not just a small exclusive group that they can’t touch, but a larger entity that’s willing to wrap our arms around the whole of humanity or even change our anthem, we’re opening our doors, and maybe the press would be better.”

Rather than singing “A Jewish soul still yearns” in the anthem, Carlebach sings, “An Israeli soul still yearns,” and instead of “An eye still gazes toward Zion,” she sings “An eye still gazes toward our country.”

The singer said the time has come for Israelis to show themselves to the world, to be the “leading peaceful country that it needs to be,” and for the world to accept and love it.

“Fighting is not working, the arguments are not working, and everyone was upset, so this is a song with that in mind,” she said. “I know it’s offensive to some people but my prayer is that it inspires a new day.”

Asked about her personal feelings on Israel and the future of the Jewish people, Carlebach said she felt that “there’s a healing that has to happen.

“When I think about Israel... and I think about the children who are fighting in the army and I think about my family there, all I can do is pray that God now gives us a chance to have a healing,” she said.

As Carlebach has been traveling with an African-American choir, building bridges with people all over the world, she said she senses the world is ready for this awakening.

“Israel is absolutely the center of all spirituality. We have to learn from each other and we have to open doors for each other,” she said.

“My father had it right. My father said that when faced with adversity, we have to love more. When people are cold, we have to love more. When people are fearful, we have to hug them harder, because that’s the only way to break down the walls between human beings. There’s too much anger; there’s too much intellectual conversation that’s not getting us anywhere. So maybe the answer is to sing and to love.”

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