Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Had Gadya

If my sources are correct, Angelo Branduardi based this song on the Italian-Jewish melody for a traditional song that Jews all over the world sing at the end of the Pesach Seder. Twenty years ago, just before I first came to Israel, Hava Alberstein, one of my favorite Israeli artists, used the same melody and turned Had Gadya into a very biting, powerful - and beautiful - protest song that was boycoted by Israeli radio. It appears on Alberstein's album 'London', the first Israeli album that I ever bought ( on cassette, in music store in the Be'er Sheva mall, in the summer of 1991, when I spent a month as a volunteer on kibbutz Kissufim, which one year later would become my home for a year and a half ). In 1991 I did not understand the lyrics yet, although I did notice that part of the song was in Aramaic. Here are some of the 'problematic' lines, which unfortunately are still relevant in more than one way. They appear towards the end of the song, the first part follows the traditional pattern: עד מתי יימשך מעגל האימה רודף ונרדף מכה ומוכה מתי ייגמר הטירוף הזה [...] הייתי פעם כבש וגדי שליו היום אני נמר וזאב טורף הייתי כבר יונה והייתי צבי היום איני יודעת מי אני Till when will the circle of horror continue Persecutor and persecuted Beater and beaten When will this madness end [...] I once was a tranquil sheep and young goat Today I am a tiger and a wolf of prey I already was a dove and a deer Today I don't know who I am

No comments: