Nechama Hendel was beloved for her soulful contributions to Israeli folk music, but when she seemed to betray her Jewish heritage, her fans turned their backs on her. Hendel joined the prestigious Nahal military entertainment unit for her army duty in 1954 and quickly became one of their top vocalists. In 1958 she joined Menachem Eliran to form the duo Ran v’Nama, which appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. After a year in America, Hendel returned to Israel to start a solo career. She studied music theory with composer Yeheskiel Braun, appeared in the 1959 film Pillar of Fire, and began collecting Ladino and Yiddish folk songs. As a commentator and performer on the radio show The Songs of the Nations from 1960–1961, she introduced these forgotten songs to the Israeli public. She also created a beloved album of music with lyrics by the modern poet Hayyim Nahman Bialik. She gained an international following and performed across Europe, but returned to Israel to entertain the troops in 1967 despite the dangers of the Six Day War. But when Hendel married a non-Jew, Leonard Regnier, and settled in West Germany in 1969, Israeli audiences were furious. They panned all her subsequent albums despite her continued devotion to both traditional and modern Jewish folk music.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Nechama Hendel." (Viewed on May 6, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/hendel-nechama>.