In her fifty-years as one of Israel’s most celebrated singer/songwriters, Chava Alberstein has run the gamut from recording pop hits to reviving Yiddish classics. Raised in Israel, Alberstein debuted at age seventeen in a 1964 Jaffa nightclub performance broadcast live on the radio. During her required military service, she entertained the troops by singing and playing guitar. She released her first three albums in 1967: a self-titled folk album, a children’s album, and an album of Yiddish songs. While she began by performing songs written by others (and still chooses to highlight the work of young songwriters), in the mid-1980s she began writing her own lyrics, and her twenty-eighth album, 1986’s Mehagrim (Immigrants), was entirely her own work. That year, she also wrote the music for Stalin’s Disciples, a movie directed by her husband, Nadav Levitan. In 1989, her version of the traditional tune “Had Gadya” was banned by Israel State Radio for its criticism of Israel’s policies towards Palestinians. As of her most recent release in 2010, she has recorded 63 albums and has been honored with several Kinor David Awards (Israel’s Grammy) and a lifetime achievement award from YIVO for her contributions to Yiddish music.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Chava Alberstein." (Viewed on April 19, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/alberstein-chava>.