By the time of his death at age 64, Ehud Manor and the thousand songs he wrote were clearly the embodiment of a beautiful Israel. His songs were the concrete representation of an otherwise nebulous concept: Ein li eretz acheret, I have no other country – all the buoyant pride, lacerating pain, disappointments and no holds barred criticism. Like Naomi Shemer, the songster laureate of our homeland, nothing Israeli was foreign to him or to his lyrics. Like her, Manor was awarded the Israel Prize for a ?lifetime contribution to Israeli culture.? Most of his songs are a part of our lives and national psyche in such a way that it?s hard to grasp that one person, true a very personable man, actually sat down and wrote them, that they weren’t always just there, like the trees and the birds and the blue sky. Ehud Manor was our image of the authentic Israel. And yet he was so unlike the overworked image of the brave, dry-eyed, can-do, brash and unpolished sabra.
He was so relaxed and at home with the country and its language that he didn’t have to mimic Eliezer ben Yehuda, the purist father of modern Hebrew who took a monastic oath for his family and himself, never to speak another word of a foreign tongue. He was genuinely relaxed with hutz le’aretz(the outside world). So much so that beside the over 1,250 Hebrew songs he composed, he also translated more than 600 works into Hebrew including such Broadway hits as Cabaret and Les Miserables. Even peace songs like BaShanah HaBaah (Next Year) ? ?Next Year we will sit on the porch/ counting migratory birds/ children on vacation will play tag/ between the fields and houses/ Just wait and you’ll see/ how good it will be/ on the very next year? had none of the Judy Garland myopia of “somewhere over the rainbow”.
What an unremarkable identity he had. His parents made Aliya before World War II. They had a small house in Binyamina where his mother was a teacher and his father was a farmer. Later his mother became head of Moetzet Hapoalot (Working Mothers Council now Na’amat) in town. Ehud Manor wasn’t born on a kibbutz nor did he study at the Kibbutz Teacher College.
He was just an extraordinary example of a common man; the result of the Zionist revolution. And his song won first place for Israel at the 1978 Eurovision Competition. He followed that in 1978, 1983, 1992, 2004 and 2005 when he composed the Israeli entries.
We liked him, a lot.