Hebrew Language Blog

She’vet Achim Ve’achayot: A New Israeli Song Became a Hit Posted by on Nov 11, 2019 in Uncategorized

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A new Israeli song, called שֵׁבֶט אָחִים וַאֲחַיּוֹת (A Tribe of Brothers and Sisters) was released in April this year and immediately became a huge hit.

The song (שִׁיר) was produced through the initiative of the popular Galgalatz radio station (תַּחֲנַת רַדְיוֹ) operated by Israel Defense Forces Radio, in an appeal to encourage unity and consolidation. The producers gathered together 35 famous singers (זַמָּרׅים) of various musical styles. David Broza, for example, who usually sings rock; the rapper Subliminal; and Nasreen Qadri who sings oriental music, are among the singers. The song ends with the contribution of the president of Israel, who recites the refrain that closes the song.

The text is a love song for Israel. כָּאן זֶה בַּיִת, כָּאן זֶה לֵב, וְאוֺתָךְ אֲנׅי לֺא עוֺזֵב (this is home, this is heart, and Im not leaving you) as the first line of the refrain goes. The song opens with a number: שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה (seventy years), referring to the age of the state of Israel, but emphasizes the historical connection to the land with many references to the bible and other Hebrew texts. אֵיךְ נַפְשׁׅי עוֺד הוֹמִיָּה (how my soul inside still yearns), for example, implies to the national anthem; אָדָם הוּא נוֺף מוֹלַדְתוֹ (a man reflects his homeland’s view) refers to a poem by the famous Hebrew poet Shaul Tchernichovsky (1875-1943). The title of the song itself references a well-known verse from the bible: שֶׁבֶת אַחִים גַּם יָחַד (brethren to dwell together in unity) [Book of Psalms chapter 133 verse 1].

The lyrics:

שֵׁבֶט אָחִים וַאֲחַיּוֹת

שִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה בַּמְּכוֹנִית
אֲנׅי נוֺסֵעַ וּמַבִּיט
עַל מָה הָיָה וּמָה נִהְיָה
וְאֵיךְ נַפְשׁׅי עוֺד הוֹמִיָּה

מֵהַמְּצָדָה שֶׁל הַזְּרִיחוֹת
יְרוּשָׁלַיִם בַּסְּלִיחוֹת
מֵחוֹף כִּנֶּרֶת וְאַכְזִיב
מֵהַמְּסִיבּוֹת שֶׁל תֵּל אָבִיב

אֲבִי חָלַם וְהִתְפַּלֵּל
לִחְיוֹת בְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל
הַיּוֹם יַלְדִּי אוֹתִי שׁוֺאֵל
מָה הַסִיפּוּר שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל

כָּאן זֶה בַּיִת, כָּאן זֶה לֵב
וְאוֺתָךְ אֲנׅי לֺא עוֺזֵב
אֲבוֹתֵינוּ – שׁוֺרָשִׁים
וַאֲנַחְנוּ הַפְּרָחִים, הַמַנְגִּינוֹת
שֵׁבֶט אַחִים וַאֲחָיוֹת

אוֹתָהּ שְׁכוּנָה, אוֹתוֹ רְחוֹב
תְּרֵיסָר בָּנִים שֶׁל יַעֲקֹב
אוֹסְפִים בְּיַחַד נְדוּדִים
בְּתוֹךְ תַּרְמִיל גַּעְגּוּעִים

אָדָם הוּא נוֺף מוֹלַדְתו
חוֹרֵט קָווׅים בְּכַף יָדוֹ
בֵּין הַתְּפִילּוֹת לַנְּדָרִים
רֵיחוֹת פַּרְדֵּס שֶׁל הֲדָרִים

וּבְעֵינֶיהָ שֶׁל אׅימׅי
תָּמִיד אֶמְצָא אֶת מְקוֺמׅי
עַל הַגִּיטָרָה מׅתְנַגֵּן
נִיגוּן עַתִּיק שֶׁמְּכַוֵּן

כָּאן זֶה בַּיִת…

מׅבְּרֵאשִׁית הַכֹּול תָּפוּר
טְלַאׅים, טְלַאׅים שֶׁל הַסִיפּוּר
כְּמוֹ שְׁתֵי מׅילׅים- לְהִתְחַבֵּר
בְּחוּט זָהָב שֶׁל מְשׁוֹרֵר

אֲנׅי מׅכָּאן, אֲנׅי שַׁייָּךְ
וְכָל חָבֵר שֶׁלׅי כְּמוֹ אָח
אַתְּ הַפּוֹעֶמֶת בִּלְבָבִי
אֲנׅי מִזְרָח- מַעֲרָבִי

Five famous places are mentioned in the song: Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, the Sea of Galilee, Masada, and Achziv. But more sites are filmed in the video (סִרְטוֹן וִידֵאוֹ). The clip is composed of selfie videos of the singers. The artists (אָמָּנׅים) were allowed to choose their own locations, and each singer took a selfie video in a place with special personal meaning. Together they created a collage of more than 30 places around Israel.

Watch the video clip:

The song’s success was immediate and great. It became very popular in schools and even among kindergarten kids. Different versions (גִּרְסָאוֺת) of the song appeared in less than two months. One of my favorite is the video clip the Israel Police filmed:

An English version of the song was produced (הוּפַק) by Birthright Israel (a non-profit educational organization which aims to connect Diaspora Jewish young adults to Israel). Nearly 30 sites in Israel were featured in the video, performed by over a hundred young Jews who visited Israel as part of Birthright Israel project. The translation is fairly accurate to the Hebrew source, and keeps the key line שֵׁבֶט אַחִים וַאֲחָיוֹת untranslated: She’vet Achim Ve’achayot.

Text vocabulary

Song = שִׁיר

Radio station = תַּחֲנַת רַדְיוֹ

Singer = זַמָּר

Video clip = סִרְטוֹן וִידֵאוֹ

Artist = אָמָּן

Version = גִּרְסָה

Versions = גִּרְסָאוֺת

To produce = לְהָפׅיק

Heart = לֵב

Home = בַּיִת

Homeland = מוֹלֶדֶת

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  1. Johnny Gutierrez:

    Since I’ve heard it I have wanted to learn what TaNaKh refers to as “A Pure Language” (שפה תהורה) !