Bat-Sheva Ofra Haza (Hebrew: בת-שבע עפרה חזה; 19 November 1957 – 23 February 2000), known professionally as Ofra Haza (עפרה חזה), was an Israeli singer, actress, and Grammy Award-nominated recording artist commonly known in the Western world as "The Israeli Madonna",[1] or "Madonna of the East".[2] Her voice has been described as a "tender" mezzo-soprano.[3]

Ofra Haza
Ofra Haza 1981 (עפרה חזה 1981).jpg
Haza in 1981
Bat-Sheva Ofra Haza

(1957-11-19)19 November 1957
Died23 February 2000(2000-02-23) (aged 42)
Cause of deathAIDS
Resting placeYarkon Cemetery
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • actress
Years active1969–2000
Doron Ashkenazi
(m. 1997)
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • piano

Of Mizrahi Jewish (Yemenite-Jewish) descent, Haza's music is known as a mixture of traditional and commercial singing styles, fusing elements of Eastern and Western instrumentation, orchestration and dance-beat. She became successful in Europe and the Americas; during her singing career, she earned many platinum and gold discs. In Israel, Haza was an influential cultural figure who helped to popularize Mizrahi culture.[4]

Early lifeEdit

Bat-Sheva Ofra Haza was born in Tel Aviv, Israel,[5] to Mizrahi Jewish parents from Yemen who immigrated to Israel.[4][6] She was the youngest of nine children[7] (six sisters and two brothers) to Yefet and Shoshana Haza. They were raised in a Masorti household[citation needed] in the Hatikva Quarter, then an impoverished neighborhood of Tel Aviv.[6][8][7]

At the age of 12, Haza joined a local theater troupe,[4] and manager Bezalel Aloni noticed her singing talent. He spotlighted her in many of his productions, and later became her manager and mentor. At 19, she was Israel's foremost pop star, and news articles have retrospectively described her as "the Madonna of the East".[9][10]

Haza served two years in the Israel Defense Forces.[6]

International artistEdit

She represented Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest 1983, with the song "Hi", finishing second with 136 points. Her major international breakthrough came in the wake of the album Shirei Teiman ("Yemenite songs"), which she recorded in 1984. The album consisted of songs that Haza had heard in childhood, using arrangements that combined authentic Middle Eastern percussion with classical instruments.[11] Further recognition came with the single "Im Nin'alu", taken from the album Shaday (1988), which won the New Music Award for Best International Album of the Year.[12] The song topped the Eurochart for two weeks in June that year and was on heavy rotation on MTV channels across the continent. In the annals of classical hip-hop this song would be extensively re-released, re-mixed and sampled, for example on Coldcut's remix of Eric B. & Rakim's "Paid in Full". The single made only a brief appearance in the UK top 40 singles chart, but became a dance floor favorite across Europe and the US, topping the German charts for nine weeks. Subsequent singles were also given the dance-beat / MTV-style video treatment, most notably, Galbi, Daw Da Hiya and Mata Hari, but none quite matched the runaway success of her first hit. Im Nin'alu would go on to be featured on an in-game radio playlist of the video game Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, released in 2005 and featured on Panjabi MC's album "Indian Timing" in 2009.[citation needed]

Haza also received critical acclaim for the albums Fifty Gates of Wisdom (1984), Desert Wind (1989), Kirya (1992) and Ofra Haza (1997).[citation needed]

In 1992, Kirya (co-produced by Don Was) received a Grammy nomination.[12]

In 1994, Haza released her first Hebrew album in seven years, Kol Haneshama ("The Whole Soul"). Though not an initial chart success, the album produced one of her biggest hits to date, Le'orech Hayam ("Along The Sea"), written by Ayala Asherov. The song did not have any substantial chart success upon its release to radio but became an anthem after Haza performed it on the assembly in memorial to deceased Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, a week after he was assassinated. Radio stations around the country began to play it. Its lyrics became even more symbolic following Haza's own death in 2000.[citation needed]

Collaborations and performancesEdit

A memorial to Ofra Haza in the Hatikva Quarter garden, Tel Aviv
Memorial plaque in memory of Ofra Haza at her childhood home in 39 Boaz Street, Tel Aviv.

Her collaborative work with internationally established acts included the single "Temple of Love (Touched by the Hand of Ofra Haza)", recorded with The Sisters of Mercy in 1992. Thomas Dolby co-produced Yemenite Songs and Desert Wind, on which he was also a guest musician. Haza guested on Dolby's album Astronauts And Heretics (1992), singing on the track "That's Why People Fall in Love". She recorded "My Love Is for Real" with Paula Abdul in 1995 and on Sarah Brightman's album Harem, Haza's vocals were included on "Mysterious Days", thanks to an idea by Brightman's partner Frank Peterson (ex-Enigma), who produced both Harem (2003) and the album Ofra Haza (1997). Haza also sang backing vocals on the song "Friend of Stars" by the German electro-pop band And One, from the Spot (1993) album.

For the Kirya album, Iggy Pop, a friend of Don Was, performed the narration on "Daw Da Hiya" and Haza joined him and a host of other stars for the video and single release "Give Peace A Chance" in 1991. She also sang on the soundtracks of Colors (1988), Dick Tracy (1990), Wild Orchid (1990), Queen Margot (1994) and The Prince of Egypt (1998).

Haza in 1997

In The Prince of Egypt, she voiced the small role of Yocheved, singing "Deliver Us." When Hans Zimmer, who was working with Haza on the music for The Prince of Egypt, introduced her to the artists, they thought that she was so beautiful that they drew Yocheved to look like the singer. For the film's soundtracks, Haza sang the song "Deliver Us" in 19 languages, about half of which were sung phonetically, including:

  • Czech — "Tak vyveď nás"
  • Dutch — "Verlos ons, Heer"
  • English — "Deliver Us"
  • Finnish — "Johdata"
  • French — "Délivre nous"
  • German — "Erlöse uns"
  • Greek — "Eleftheri"
  • Hebrew — "Hoshia Na"
  • Hungarian — "Szabadíts"
  • Italian — "Ascoltaci"
  • Norwegian — "Befri Oss"
  • Polish — "Uwolnij nas"
  • Portuguese (Brazilian and European) — "Liberte-nos"
  • Romanian - "Izbăvește-ne"
  • Slovak - ???
  • Spanish (Latin and Castilian) — "Libéranos"
  • Swedish — "Befria Oss"

On the soundtrack of The Governess (1998), Haza is the featured singer on seven of the twelve tracks and worked closely with film music composer Edward Shearmur. In 1999, she performed (together with late Pakistani artist Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) the track "Forgiveness", on the contemporary symphony album The Prayer Cycle by Jonathan Elias. As a featured background vocalist, Haza's voice has been recorded, re-mixed or sampled for Black Dog's "Babylon" single, Eric B and Rakim's "Paid in Full (Coldcut Remix)", "Temple of Love (1992)" by The Sisters of Mercy, and for the M/A/R/R/S hit "Pump Up The Volume". The single "Love Song" has been re-mixed by DJs many times, its powerful vocal performance and comparatively sparse musical arrangement making it the perfect vehicle for a dance-rhythm accompaniment.

Covers of songs by other artists included the Carole King/James Taylor song "You've Got a Friend", Madonna's "Open Your Heart", Gary Moore's "Separate Ways", and Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir".

There were many live performances and Haza spoke with fond memories of her visits to Japan and Turkey. She performed at the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, where she appeared alongside Irish singer Sinéad O'Connor. "Paint Box" was written specially for the event. Her 1990 live recording, Ofra Haza at Montreux Jazz Festival was released in 1998.

Haza shared duets and concert performances with Glykeria, Yehudit Ravitz, Paul Anka, Paula Abdul, Michael Jackson, Iggy Pop, Hoite, Buddha Bar, Ishtar, Gidi Gov, Whitney Houston, Tzvika Pick, Khaled, Prachim Yerushalaim, The Sisters of Mercy, Thomas Dolby, Stefan Waggershausen, Eric B and Rakim, Gila Miniha, Hans Zimmer, Hagashash Hachiver, Yaffa Yarkoni, Dana International, Shoshana Damari and posthumously with Sarah Brightman.

In late 1999, Haza recorded new material for a new album that she worked on with Ron Aviv, a music producer from Petah Tikva. At the time, she also worked with the Finnish violinist Linda Brava, who released a previously unreleased track called Tarab on her MySpace page on 14 May 2010. On the track, Haza sings in English, Arabic and Hebrew, while Brava plays the electric violin. The track is possibly Haza's last recording.[13]

In the summer of 2021, the British-Belgian EDM band Gravity Noir created a completely new music arrangement for Im Nin'alu. Ofra Haza's original vocals were retained for this, and Ofra Haza also features in their Music video as a special tribute. Gravity Noir featuring Ofra Haza - Im Nin Alu 2021, was officially released on July 14, 2021.[14][15] The feature film ANKH was subsequently released in 2022, in which Ofra Haza can be seen and heard several times in archive footage.[16]


On 15 July 1997, Haza married businessman Doron Ashkenazi. The couple had no children, but Ashkenazi had an adopted son, Shai, and a biological daughter from his first marriage.[17][18]


Ofra Haza's grave in Yarkon Cemetery

Ofra Haza died on 23 February 2000, at the age of 42, of AIDS. While the fact that she was HIV-positive is now generally known, the decision by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz to report it shortly after her death was controversial in Israel.[19]

After Haza's death was announced, Israeli radio stations played non-stop retrospectives of her music. Then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak praised her work as a cultural emissary, commenting that she also represented the Israeli success story — "Ofra emerged from the Hatikvah slums to reach the peak of Israeli culture. She has left a mark on us all."

Haza's death from an AIDS-related illness added another layer to the public mourning. The revelation of Haza's illness caused much surprise among fans, along with debate about whether the media invaded her privacy by reporting it. There was also speculation about how she had acquired the virus. Immediately after her death, the media placed blame on her husband, Tel Aviv businessman Doron Ashkenazi, for infecting her with the disease.[20] Haza's manager Bezalel Aloni supported this belief, writing in his book that Haza acquired AIDS through sex with her husband.[21] Later, it was revealed that her husband believed Haza became infected because of a blood transfusion she received in a hospital following a miscarriage. Ashkenazi himself died of a drug overdose roughly one year later on 7 April 2001, leaving a daughter from a prior marriage and a 14-year-old adopted son, Shai Ashkenazi.[22]

Haza is buried in the Artists section of Yarkon Cemetery in Petah Tikva near Tel Aviv.


Bezalel Aloni, Haza's manager and producer of 28 years, published a book Michtavim L'Ofra (Letters to Ofra) in 2007. The book is partly Aloni's autobiography and partly a biography of Haza, and includes letters written by Aloni.[21]

On 22 March 2007, on the seventh anniversary of her death, the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality and the Tel Aviv Development Fund renamed part of the public park in the Hatikva Quarter Gan Ofra (Ofra's Park) in her honor. The park is placed at the end of Bo'az street, in which Haza's childhood home stood. The park features a children's playground, symbolizing her love for children and the old quarter she grew up in and always came back to.

On 19 November 2014, Google celebrated her 57th birthday with a Google Doodle.[23] Pakistani blogger Sarmad Iqbal who is known for his pro-peace stance, praised Ofra Haza enthusiastically in his blog post titled A Pakistani’s love letter to Israeli pop music and cinema for The Times of Israel in 2017. Sarmad wrote "She was more than just a cultural icon of Israel as she also tried to bridge the wide gap between Israel and her Arab neighbors as her songs spread to a wider Middle-Eastern audience defying all the barriers to peace and friendship between Arabs and Israel.".[24]

In the videogame Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories, her track "Im Nin'Alu" is featured in a fictional radio station which plays Middle Eastern and Indian Music.

  • Touched By the Hand of Ofra Haza Fanzine (2008–09) was a tribute fanzine.
  • Sharim Ofra (Singing Ofra) 2002 – A tribute concert to commemorate the life of Ofra Haza where Israeli singers sang Haza's songs.
  • Fulfilled Wish is a digital EP by Russian ambient- and downtempo duo Koan, released in 2007.
  • Life & Death of Ofra Haza 2002 – Aired on the Israeli channel 2, 29 January 2002. This documentary in Hebrew focuses on Haza's entire life and career until her death.
  • Sodot (Secrets) 2005 – Aired on Israeli channel YES, this documentary in Hebrew and partly English is about Haza's life and attempts to answer questions surrounding her death.
  • Dokoceleb Ofra Haza 2007 – Aired on the Israeli entertainment station HOT, 22 February 2007. This documentary in Hebrew focuses on Haza's career, achievements and marriage.
  • Lost Treasure of Ofra Haza 2010 – Aired on the Israeli channel 10, 22 February 2010. This documentary in Hebrew and partly English focuses on Haza's legacy.



Studio albums
  • 1974: Ahava RishonaFirst Love (with Shechunat Hatikvah Workshop Theatre)
  • 1976: Vehutz Mizeh Hakol BesederApart from that All Is OK (with Shechunat Hatikvah Workshop Theatre)
  • 1977: Atik NoshanAncient Old (with Shechunat Hatikvah Workshop Theatre)
  • 1977: Shir HaShirim Besha'ashu'imThe Song of Songs (with Fun)
  • 1980: Al Ahavot ShelanuAbout Our Loves
  • 1981: Bo NedaberLet's Talk
  • 1982: PituyimTemptations
  • 1982: Li-yeladimSongs for Children (children's album)
  • 1983: HaiAlive
  • 1983: Shirey MoledetHomeland Songs
  • 1984: Bayt HamA Place for Me
  • 1984: Yemenite SongsShiri Teyman (aka Fifty Gates of Wisdom)
  • 1985: AdamahEarth
  • 1985: Shirey Moledet 2Homeland Songs 2
  • 1986: Yamim NishbarimBroken Days
  • 1987: Shirey Moledet 3Homeland Songs 3
  • 1988: Shaday
  • 1989: Desert Wind
  • 1992: Kirya
  • 1994: Kol HaneshamaMy Soul
  • 1997: Ofra Haza
Live albums
  • 1983: Selected Hits (with Shechunat Hatikvah Workshop Theatre)
  • 1986: Album HaZahavGolden Album
  • 2000: Manginat Halev Vol. 1Melody of the Heart Vol. 1
  • 2004: Manginat Halev Vol. 2Melody of the Heart Vol. 2
  • 2008: Forever Ofra Haza (remix album)


Year Single Peak positions Album
1988 "Galbi" Shaday
"Im Nin'alu" 15 16 29 14 6 23 1 2 1 2 1 15
"Galbi" (reissue) 18 20 19 21
1989 "Eshal" (ITA only) 43
"Wish Me Luck" 22 Desert Wind
"I Want to Fly" (JAP only)
1990 "Ya Ba Ye" 20
1991 "Today I'll Pray (Oggi Un Dio Non Ho)" (from Sanremo – ITA only) single only
1992 "Daw Da Hiya" Kirya
"Innocent – A Requiem for Refugees"
1994 "Elo Hi" La Reine Margot OST
1995 "Mata Hari" singles only
1996 "Love Song"
1997 "Show Me" Ofra Haza
1998 "Give Me a Sign"
2021 "Im Nin Alu" Gravity Noir featuring Ofra Haza 7 32 ANKH
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Israeli Madonna". BBC Four. 2010. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  2. ^ "Ofra Haza, Madonna of the East". Archived from the original on 26 February 2015. Retrieved 8 April 2015.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  3. ^ Pareles, Jon (24 February 2000). "Ofra Haza, 41, Israeli Pop Singer Who Crossed Cultural Bounds". The New York Times. New York. Retrieved 28 July 2011.
  4. ^ a b c Joffe, Lawrence (25 February 2000). "Ofra Haza". the Guardian. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  5. ^ "Ofra Haza". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  6. ^ a b c "Ofra Haza |". Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Death Of A Diva". POZ. 1 June 2000. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  8. ^ "Paying tribute to a Mizrahi legend". The Jerusalem Post | Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  9. ^ "A-Wa's Unlikely Journey From Rural Israel to Global Fame". The Forward.
  10. ^ "Grapevine". The Jerusalem Post.
  11. ^ Ofra Haza in the "Jewish Women's Archive"
  12. ^ a b "Ofra Haza: From Hatikva to Hollywood". Jerusalem Post online. 24 February 2000. Archived from the original on 13 October 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
  13. ^ "About Me". Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  14. ^ "Im Nin Alu 2021". Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  15. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Gravity Noir - Feat. Ofra Haza - Im Nin Alu אם ננעלו 2021 (Official Music Video)". Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  16. ^ "Ankh (2022) - IMDb". IMDb. 19 April 2022. Archived from the original on 2 May 2022. Retrieved 2 May 2022.
  17. ^ Amit Ben-Aroya. "Ofra Haza's husband found dead, police suspect drug overdose", Haaretz, 7 April 2001
  18. ^ Greer Fay Cashman. "Jerusalem Post Article about Shai Ashkenazi" Archived 24 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine, The Jerusalem Post, 21 October 2007
  19. ^ Sontag, Deborah (29 February 2000). "A Pop Diva, a Case of AIDS and an Israeli Storm". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  20. ^ "Singer's death prompts AIDS debate". London: BBC News. 5 March 2000. Retrieved 24 February 2010.
  21. ^ a b "'Letters to Ofra' – The double life of Ofra Haza". Haaretz. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  22. ^ "Ofra Haza: Madonna of the dark soul". The Guardian. London. 9 December 2010. Retrieved 15 December 2010.
  23. ^ "Ofra Haza's 57th Birthday". Google. 19 November 2014.
  24. ^ "'A Pakistani's love letter to Israeli pop music and cinema'". Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  25. ^ "Official Charts Company: Ofra Haza". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  26. ^ "LGBTQ Music Chart - Week 34 - 2021". Archived from the original on 23 August 2021. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
  27. ^ "Ofra Haza – German Chart". Retrieved 24 April 2014.[dead link]
  28. ^ "Ofra Haza – US Dance Club Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  29. ^ "Turkey iTunes Top 100 Dance Songs Chart, Gravity Noir featuring Ofra Haza - Im Nin Alu, #32". Archived from the original on 26 July 2021. Retrieved 26 July 2021.

External linksEdit

Awards and achievements
Preceded by Israel in the Eurovision Song Contest
Succeeded by