During these unprecedented times, music helps us heal and hope and express. If you are home with little ones, music of all kinds can both soothe and celebrate life.
With “Al Kol Eleh,” a song by Naomi Shemer, we can simply listen. Or we can use the song as a springboard for discussion. And we can even embrace it more deeply by learning how to play it on an instrument or memorize the lyrics to sing it.
In our family, we used to sing this song as a special Rosh Hashanah treat, because of the concept. The first verse reads:
Al hadevash v’al ha-oketz – over the honey and the (bee) sting
Al ha-mar ve’ha-matok – over the bitter and the sweet
Al bitenu hatinoket – over our baby daughter
Shmor Eli hatov – please guard my good Lord
When our grands were little, we regularly paraded around the house, in time to the music blaring, with or without kiddie instruments. This powerful song by Naomi Shemer can work for parading. Or viewing together. Or simply snuggling.
People of all ages can drink in this experience as they see:
- Young people playing instruments and singing
- Crowds joining in with an echo of key words
- And the magnificent spectacle of hundreds of people of all ages raising their voices and their spirits together
And then, if your kids are ready for it, you can carve out some words for a beautiful Hebrew lesson. Here’s a link to the words in English and Hebrew.
For transliteration, click here: (I don’t like the translation here at all, though, so I recommend the version above for the meaning.)
Starter words to consider;
- d’vash – honey
- matok – sweet
- mayim – water
- bayit – house
- tikva – hope
Springboard for Discussion
Again, depending on the ages of the children, the lyrics lead to questions that you can make more or less complex:
- What are you grateful for today? Or what makes you happy today?
- What do you hope will happen soon?
- What do you like best about our house / our yard / our food?
Music You Create
And then you can play the song on guitar or piano. Here is a link to the guitar chords. Remember that it’s for Capo 3, which I forgot the first time I tried
Enjoy! Be well.