Haim Hefer

Haim Hefer (Hebrew: חיים חפר‎‎ 29 October 1925 – 18 September 2012) was a Polish-born Israeli songwriter, poet and writer. He wrote for numerous composers and musical artists, as well as for military bands. Several of his songs, including "Hafinjan" and "Hayu Zmanim", are considered Israeli classics. He was awarded the Israel Prize in 1983 as recognition for his contributions to Israeli music.

Haim Hefer
Haim Hefer, 1983
Haim Hefer, 1983
BornHaim Feiner
(1925-10-29)29 October 1925
Sosnowiec, Poland
Died18 September 2012(2012-09-18) (aged 86)
Tel Aviv, Israel
OccupationSongwriter, poet, writer
  • war
  • peace
  • politics
  • current affairs
Notable works
  • Hafinjan (The Billy Kettle)
  • Hayu Zmanim (In Those Days)
  • Hamilkhama Ha'achrona (The Last War)
Notable awards1983 Israel Prize
SpouseRuti Haramati


Haim Feiner (later Hefer) was born in Sosnowiec, Poland in 1925 to Jewish parents Issachar Feiner, a chocolate salesman, and Rivka Herzberg, a housewife. He had a private Hebrew tutor. His family immigrated to Palestine in 1936 and settled in Raanana. He began writing at the age of 13, as part of a national contest. He never finished high school and joined the Palmach in 1943.[1] He took part in smuggling illegal immigrants through Syria and Lebanon. During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, he was one of the founders of the Chizbatron, the Palmach army troupe, and was its chief songwriter.[2]

Hefer owned a house in Ein Hod,[3] but resided in Tel Aviv. He was married to Ruti Haramati, with whom he had a daughter, Mimi.[1][4] In 1975–1978 Hefer was a cultural attaché at the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles.[4][5]

On 18 September 2012 (the second day of Rosh Hashanah, 5773), Hefer died at Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv, after a long illness.[6]

Music careerEdit

In the 1950s, Hefer and Dahn Ben-Amotz wrote A Bag of Fibs, a collection of tall tales made up in the Palmach, and founded the "Hamam" club in Jaffa. During that time, he founded "Revi'iat Moadon HaTeatron" (Theater Club Quartet). He wrote a weekly column for Yediot Aharonot, which included maqamas on current affairs.[2] A Bag of Fibs achieved cult status in Israel.[7] He was later made a cultural attache to the Israeli consul in Los Angeles.[8]

He wrote for dozens of composers, including Sasha Argov, Moshe Wilensky and Dubi Seltzer. Artists who performed his songs include Arik Lavie, Yehoram Gaon, Shoshana Damari and Yafa Yarkoni, as well as The High Windows and most Israeli military bands.[2] He wrote lyrics for musicals, including Kazablan and I Like Mike. Many of his songs, such as "Hafinjan" (The Billy Kettle), "Hayu Zmanim" (In Those Days) and "Hamilkhama Ha'achrona" (The Last War) are considered Israeli classics. He also published several collections of his verses. Shortly before the 1948 war, he wrote a song titled "Between the Borders", about immigration. It included the words "We are here, a defensive shield". In 2002, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched an operation in the West Bank and named it Operation Defensive Shield.[9]


In 2002, Hefer described Moroccan Jewish culture as inferior to that of the Polish Jews. He called Aviv Geffen a phony and criticized Yaffa Yarkoni for badmouthing the IDF.[10] His remarks were condemned as racist and criticized by then President of Israel, Moshe Katsav, members of the Moroccan community, and representatives of the Shas Party,[11] as well as Mizrahi musicians such as Margalit Tzan'ani.[10] Hefer made a public apology and wrote a song for singer Zehava Ben.[12]


In 1983, Hefer was awarded the Israel Prize, for Hebrew song (words),[13] for his contribution to the Music of Israel.[14]

In 2008 in Poland was published a book, "Chaim Chefer—Memorable Days"("Chaim Chefer – Pamiętne Dni"), the development of the graphic made by Pawel Slota under the artistic supervision of Agnieszka Tyrman. The book was out of admiration and respect for the work of Chaim Chefer in the jubilee year the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel.[15]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Avrahami, Avner (28 July 2005). יש שורות שהייתי מוחק [There are lines I'd erase]. Haaretz (in Hebrew). Retrieved 17 October 2008.
  2. ^ a b c Yudilovitch, Merav (14 November 2005). "Celebrating Haim Hefer's 80th birthday at Tzavta". Ynet (in Hebrew). Retrieved 17 October 2008.
  3. ^ "Ein-Hod Articles". ein-hod.israel.net. Retrieved 17 October 2008.
  4. ^ a b Kershner, Isabel (20 September 2012). "Haim Hefer, Israeli Songwriter and Poet, Dies at 86". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  5. ^ Haim Hefer Archived 4 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine at the Hebrew Writers Lexicon (in Hebrew)
  6. ^ Cashman, Greer Fay (18 September 2012). "National culture icon Haim Hefer dies at 86". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
  7. ^ Rubinstein, Danny (12 June 2007). ירושלמי נכנס למסעדה בהודו ומזמין כוס תה [A Jerusalemite enters a restaurant in India and orders a cup of tea]. Haaretz (in Hebrew). Retrieved 5 September 2008.
  8. ^ Eichner, Itamar (23 June 2003). "Moti Reif's appointment as cultural attache approved". Ynet (in Hebrew). Retrieved 17 October 2008.
  9. ^ Palti, Michal (15 April 2002). "Song of peace, song of war". Haaretz. Retrieved 17 October 2008.
  10. ^ a b Yudilovitch, Merav; Ari Katorza (7 June 2002). "Haim Hefer: The Moroccans – Undeveloped". Ynet (in Hebrew). Retrieved 17 October 2008.
  11. ^ "Hefer's remarks condemned as racist". The Jerusalem Post. 9 June 2002. Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2008.
  12. ^ Yudilovitch, Merav (16 June 2003). "Haim Hefer to write for Zehava Ben". Ynet (in Hebrew). Retrieved 17 October 2008.
  13. ^ "Israel Prize Official Site – Recipients in 1983 (in Hebrew)".
  14. ^ "Hefer, Chaim (1925 – )". Jewish Agency. Archived from the original on 16 May 2008. Retrieved 17 October 2008.
  15. ^ "Chaim Chefer – Pamiętne Dni" [Chaim Chefer—Memorable Days] (in Polish). ISSUU. Retrieved 12 August 2014.

External linksEdit