Chava Alberstein

Content type

Women in Israeli Music

The arrival in pre- and post-state Israel of Jewish immigrants from Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa resulted in a culturally diverse proliferation of music, much of which involved performance and composition by Jewish women. Jewish women have also contributed significantly to the development of music education and music scholarship, being involved in music studies publications and projects as well as the development of music education institutions.

Jewish Women in Contemporary Popular Music: 1950 to Present

Since 1950, Jewish women musicians have moved with the times, performing with bands, as solo acts, and as songwriters. They have included mainstream pop performers and rock, punk, and Riot Grrrl musicians. Some Israeli artists have reached international audiences, often via the Europvision Song Contest.

Naomi Shemer

Naomi Shemer was a prolific singer and composer who built a unified Israeli cultural consciousness through her beautiful melodies. From the 1950s to the 1990s, Shemer wrote music that was performed throughout the country, including “Jerusalem of Gold” and “Lu Yehi.” In 1983, she was awarded the Israel Prize, and she continued to write new music until her death in 2004.

Music: Palestine and Israel

Music in Israel is a giant mosaic of cultures, styles, and musical traditions from the region and around the world. In every way and at all times, especially since the establishment of the state, women have been active in and have left their mark on the country’s musical life.

Nurit Hirsch

Nurit Hirsch is one of the most prolific and varied writers of contemporary Israeli songs. Hirsch was the first Israeli composer to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest, winning fourth place in 1973. She composed the music for fourteen films, wrote numerous children’s songs, and won third place at the first festival of Hassidic music. Today Hirsch's repertoire contains around 1,600 songs.

Hebrew Song, 1880-2020

Hebrew song as a whole, including songs of Erez Israel and the State of Israel, is a unique socio-cultural phenomenon that has developed over time. The dawning of Hebrew song can be traced to the period between 1880 and 1903, and it has grown to reflect the diverse aspects of Israeli society since then. The contribution of women to Hebrew songs, in general, has risen steadily over the years. 

Chava Alberstein

Chava Alberstein is a singer-songwriter who by the end of 2020 had recorded over 60 albums (including eight albums in Yiddish but not including singles and song collections), more than any other Israeli singer. Alberstein has toured globally and is considered one of the most important female performers of Hebrew music, Yiddish folk songs, and children’s songs.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox