יורם טהרלב

Yoram Taharlev

I was born on Kibbutz Yagur in 1938. My parents lived in a small room, no more than 10’ x 10’ without indoor plumbing, running water or the slightest vestige of privacy. Their room was part of a long wooden hut containing six or eight similar rooms, with only a thin piece of wood separating them. 

My parents, Haim Taharlev (formerly Tarlovsky) and Yaffa Yitzikovitz, both pioneers from the Halutz movement, came from Lithuania to build a new country in Israel. Haim, who came to Israel at age 19, began writing poems and plays as a boy in Lithuania, where he would go from place to place giving readings from his work in Hebrew and Yiddish to fellow youth movement members. Yaffa left her home at age 16 to study to become a seamstress, then a much-needed profession in her soon-to-be home in Israel. They met on Kibbutz Yagur and I was born a year later.

I grew up on the kibbutz, where I remained until age 26, working (not usually very successfully) at many jobs, including beekeeper, fruit-picker and gardener. Once I came to Tel Aviv, my career as a lyricist took off and many of my songs quickly became standard fare on stage, radio and TV.

I have written about 1000 songs which have been recorded by Israel’s top groups and vocalists.  These include more than 130 songs for the Israeli Army Entertainment Troupes, who, in their heyday, were at the forefront of Israeli pop culture.

My songs continue to be played on the radio and on TV and are included in countless collections. Some of them, written over four decades ago, are receiving renewed attention as they are being revived by young bands and individual vocalists.

Of course, not each and every song I wrote became an instant hit. Some of my songs were tucked into a drawer, never to see the light of day until this site was created.  Others were recorded, but for one reason or another, just didn’t make it.  Looking at these songs as objectively as possible, I have come to the conclusion that some of them should be given a second chance.  Therefore, I have put them up on my site, and invite young singers and composers to take a look and see if something catches their fancy. These songs can be found here.

A large collection of my best-loved songs, including Givat HaTachmoshet (Ammunition Hill), Od Lo Tamu Col Plaich (Your Wonders Never Cease) and Kum ve Hitalech BaAretz (Go Walk the Land) appear in the Songs section of this site.  Even if you don't understand Hebrew, you can listen to some of them.

My First Poem (excerpt from Hebrew autobiography)

Black Sabbath was a traumatic event in my life, particularly as it relates to the very first poem I ever wrote, at age 7½. When I showed my masterpiece to my parents, they were very proud – so much so that they went to the big city (Haifa) and bought me a very special gift – a beautiful notebook, giving me very specific instructions for its use: Copy your poem into this notebook and if you write others, copy them here as well.

My parents arranged for a special place for me to keep the notebook – in the bottom drawer of their cupboard in their tiny kibbutz room. They told me to come and get it (in those days, we children did not live with our parents; we lived in children’s houses as part of the socialist ideal) whenever I felt I wanted to write. They said to be sure to put it back into the drawer when I was done. I did just that and it didn’t take long for the notebook to be filled with what were, at least in my parents’ eyes – amazing literary works.

One Saturday, at about 4:00 a.m., the kibbutz alarm bell rang out. Our nannies hurried to the children’s house where we were sleeping.  They woke us and took us, half-asleep, into one of the bedrooms and gave us the astounding news that  we wouldn’t be going to see our parents that day, but would remain in the children’s house. They explained that during the night, British soldiers had surrounded the kibbutz and were likely to try and “take it over” in the coming hours.

We were led into the kitchen where we were shown that during the night the nannies had stocked food and water in case we found ourselves under siege. Having passed on this valuable information to our group of seven-year-olds, they then told us that we could either go back to sleep or go to the playroom. The one thing that we were told not to do, however, under any circumstances, was to get anywhere near the windows, for fear that the British soldiers might fire their guns. So, naturally, each and every one of us made a beeline for the windows.

We looked outside and saw that right behind the fence that encircled the kibbutz, armed British soldiers had amassed. From time to time, one of them would try and scale the fence or cut it, but the kibbutznicks somehow stopped them. Then, at 7:00, we heard a loud noise coming from the direction of the main road. We again ran to the windows and saw a convoy of tanks advancing toward the kibbutz gate.

The tanks pushed through the gate and the soldiers stormed into the kibbutz. The kibbutzniks were no match for the tanks, but they bravely used their rakes and pitchforks to try and prevent the foot soldiers from entering their home. These men and women – our parents – were stopped in their tracks by tear gas and the soldiers streamed into the kibbutz. Unvanquished, the kibbutzniks regrouped in the center of the kibbutz and decided to barricade themselves in the communal dining room. The soldiers quickly fired tear gas into the dining room and grabbed their "enemies" as they raced out the door to escape the choking fumes.  They were loaded onto lorries and taken to a prison camp in Rafiach. We would not see our parents again for four months and would remain on the kibbutz with our nannies.

After arresting all of the people who could possibly muster any resistance, the British began their search for “illegal” weapons, rifling every corner of the kibbutz.  Guided by sophisticated equipment, they dug up the floors of the houses, the stairwells, the gardens and the yards intent on finding hidden weapon caches.

The soldiers also came into our children’s house, dragging with them a huge jackhammer. They went down to the basement and began to dig. We children could never have imagined that an entire arsenal was hidden under the place we called home.

The search went on for a full week. From time to time we were allowed to go outside, but under the watchful eyes of our nannies, we had to remain close.

At the end of the week, the British displayed a huge cache of arms for the press in order to prove their claim that the Jews were in fact amassing illegal weaponry. Then they left and finally, we children were allowed to leave the children’s house and go to see for ourselves just what had taken place over the past week.

Of course, I ran straight to my parents’ room where I found total devastation. All of the floor tiles had been dug up. Many of my parents meager possessions were gone. The cupboard had been turned upside down in the middle of the room. I crawled over to it to retrieve my notebook of poems, but it was nowhere to be found. I searched high and low – to no avail.

For days I would chase every slip of paper I saw blowing in the wind in the hope that I could recover even one page of the notebook, but I never found it and to this day have not been able to recreate my first poem.

I swore to myself that from that day on, not only would I copy everything I wrote into a notebook, but I would also learn it by heart so that no one could ever take it away from me again.

Since that day, I have filled many, many notebooks with hundreds of songs and poems and have written over 70 books.  I have published collections of my songs, volumes of poetry, books with Jewish and Israeli themes and books for children and youth.


One of my books, I’ll Take You There, a collection of magnificent photographs of Israeli panoramas by top Israeli photographer Hannan Getride, accompanied by love songs I wrote. You can read this book here.

Selected books (in Hebrew) be read in the Books section of this site.

  1. Matzah Isha Matzah Tov (A Good Woman)
    Nine stories written in verse with Taharlev's characteristic tongue-in-cheek humor tell of the (often naughty) adventures of nine women from the Bible, including Vashti, Yael and others.

  2. VeTaher Libenu (O Purify Our Hearts)
    Taharlev's hilarious interpretation of the ancient work of Jewish ethical literature Shevet Mousar.

  3. Ve Ahavata (And You Shall Love)
    A collection of Jewish wisdom on all aspects of love: love of life, of children, of country and much more.

    Published by The Ministry of Defense Publishing House
    Available in bookstores throughout Israel.
    For large orders, contact us.

  4. Shma Bnee (Hear, My Son)
    Life lessons for our children culled from Jewish wisdom from the past 1000 years.

    Published by The Ministry of Defense Publishing House
    Available in bookstores throughout Israel.
    For large orders, contact us.
    Read the book's forward here.

  5. Ein Kvar Derech Hazara (No Way Back)
    One of Taharlev's most popular and personal books, it contains 100 of his songs and humorous stories about life in Israel culled from his stage performances.

    Published by The Ministry of Defense Publishing House
    Available in bookstores throughout Israel.
    For large orders, contact us.

  6. La Ohavim et Ha Aviv (For Springtime Lovers)
    Volume one of the collection of Taharlev's most loved songs with the sheet music.

  7. Bapardes Lead Hashoket (In the Orange Grove)
    Volume II of Taharlev's song collection. Includes sheet music.

  8. Hagozal (The Baby Bird)
    A touching children's story. Illustrated by Alona Frankel.

  9. Madrich Taharlev le Ketivat Shirim VeMakamot (The Taharlev Guide to Writing Hebrew Verse)
    Tips for writing.

  10. Ekach Otach Le Sham (I'll Take You There)
    Magnificent views of Israel by top Israeli photographer Hannan Getride are accompanied by Taharlev's love poems.

    Published in English by The Ministry of Defense Publishing House
    Available in bookstores throughout Israel.
    For large orders, contact us.

    This book has been translated into English and can be found here.
    To order I'll Take You There in English contact us.

  11. HaNeshika HaRishona / Ha Neshika Ha Shniah
    (The First Kiss and The Second Kiss)
    Runaway bestsellers in their day, The First Kiss and The Second Kiss are collections of short poems about the trials and tribulations of the teen years.

  12. Ahni Barie (The ABC's of Health)
    Taharlev's charming rhymes explain medical terms to children.

  13. Alef Bet Shel Ahava (The ABC's of Love)
    The basics of love are explained to children in rhyme.

  14. Alef Bet LaNahag HaTsair (The ABC's for the Young Driver)
    Safety tips for the new driver are presented in humorous and poignant verse.

  15. Ha Doda Sheli MiRehov HaNeviim (My Aunt from the Street of the Prophets)
    A picture book about the love of children with Taharlev's own illustrations.

    Published by the Am Oved Publishing House
    Available in bookstores throughout Israel.
    For large orders, contact us.

  16. Giveret Acha Me Rehov Bezalel (The Lady From Bezalel Street)
    Taharlev's first children's book. An Israeli classic. Illustrated by Dani Kerman.

  17. Meshek Yagur: Teutah (Kibbutz Yagur: A Rough Draft)
    A critically acclaimed and widely popular volume of poetry about kibbutz life.

  18. She Yishear Benanu (Just Between Us)
    A volume of love poetry.

  19. Soos Eem Ketem Al HaMetzach (The Horse with a Mark on its Forehead)
    A Taharlev song, based on a Hassidic story is turned into a beautifully illustrated children's book.

  20. The Little People Series
    Little Alexander the Great
    Little Mona Lisa
    Little Isaac Newton
    Little Archimedes

    A series of children's books tells about each of these great people when they were children.

  21. Neve HaSlaim by Haim Taharlev
    Selections from an epic poem about kibbutz in the early years life written by Yoram Taharlev's late father.

In recent years, I have brought my work to the stage and forged quite a successful career as a performer – a cross between a magid (storyteller) and a stand-up comic.  With tales of life in Israel, told in a unique style, audiences all over the country laugh and cry and sing their hearts out together with me and singer Dalit Kanana who accompanies me in these performances. I have taken my stage shows to Europe, Canada and the United States giving Israeli audiences what I hope was an an unforgettable experience.

For information about my stage shows, contact us.