Tag Archives: Moses

Jew of the Week: Ofra Haza

Ofra Haza

Ofra Haza

Bat-Sheva Ofra Haza (1957-2000) was born in Tel-Aviv to Yemenite Jewish parents, the youngest of nine children. Her talent was first discovered in her youth when she performed with a small theatre troupe. After her military service was complete, Haza officially began her musical career. Her first album quickly went gold, as did her two follow-up albums. In 1983, she was runner-up at the Eurovision Contest, skyrocketing her fame, and giving her next two albums platinum status. She was voted Israel’s “Female Vocalist of the Year” four times in a row. By the late 80s, her fame had spread internationally, particularly for her ‘Yemenite Songs’ album, and its single “Im Nin’alu” (written by 17th-century Rabbi Shalom Shabazi). Her unique mix of Israeli, Arabic, and traditional Jewish music soon topped the Eurochart, and she was even nominated for a Grammy in 1992. Haza collaborated and performed alongside popular artists like Paula Abdul, Michael Jackson, Sarah Brightman, and Iggy Pop, and many others have done covers of her songs, including Madonna and Led Zeppelin. She also voiced Moses’ mother Yocheved in The Prince of Egypt, and sang the hit song from the movie, ‘Deliver Us’, in 17 languages. (It is said that the film artists were so struck by Haza’s beauty that they decided to sketch the character Yocheved to look like her.) Haza also sang on the soundtracks of at least seven other movies. All in all, she brought forth an incredible 24 solo albums. Sadly, Haza died fifteen years ago this week, at just 42 years of age, while in the midst of working on another album. It was later revealed that the likely cause was AIDS-related, which many believed she contracted from her husband. (Her husband said it was from a blood transfusion during a miscarriage, though he himself was found dead shortly after, possibly from a drug overdose). Beloved by Israelis and fans around the world, her music continues to inspire, and she is still often described as the “Madonna of the East”. Tel-Aviv’s Gan Ofra park is named in her honour.

Words of the Week

I don’t know what I would have done without believing in God. His support gives me power and energy to continue to be optimistic, to smile, not to be depressed. Sometimes, if things are not going so well, I don’t cry. I say maybe it’s meant to be…
– Ofra Haza

Jew of the Week: Yehoshua bin Nun

Holy Warrior

God miraculously causes the sun to stand still, allowing the Israelites under Yehoshua's command to win the battle (painting by John Martin)

God miraculously causes the sun to stand still, allowing the Israelites under Yehoshua’s command to win the battle (painting by John Martin)

Hoshea bin Nun (c. 1355-1245 BCE) was born in Egypt during the time of the Israelite slavery. Upon the return of Moses, Hoshea became his trusted servant and right-hand man. He was the only one allowed to approach Mt. Sinai other than Moses himself, and is one of the few people in the Torah described as being filled with a Godly spirit. In the wilderness, he became the chief military commander of the Israelite army, leading them to multiple victories. When the Israelites originally reached the Holy Land, Hoshea was dispatched as one of the twelve spies. It was then that Moses renamed him Yehoshua (more commonly known as Joshua), to give him strength for his mission. He was the only one, along with Caleb, to bring back a positive report, and for this was rewarded with permission to enter the land of Israel, while the rest of the generation was condemned to perish in the wilderness over a forty year period. At the end of those forty years, when Moses passed away, Yehoshua took over and led the Jews into Israel, overseeing their successful reclamation and re-settlement of the land with a series of miraculous victories. His work complete, Yehoshua passed away in the Holy Land at the age of 110, having gained a reputation for wisdom, humility, and most of all, being a beloved caretaker of his people. He is believed to be the author of the Biblical book of Joshua. As his origins are obscure, and he alone has the moniker “bin” in his name (as opposed to the standard “ben”, which means son), several legends have come forth regarding his birth. In one of the most enigmatic, it is said that the baby Yehoshua was among those newborns thrown into the Nile River by Pharaoh’s soldiers. However, he was swallowed up by a great fish which was later caught by fishermen; Yehoshua was thereby accidentally rescued from the fish’s belly, hence the name “bin Nun” (nun means “fish” in Aramaic). Yehoshua’s yahrzeit is commemorated on the 26th of Nisan, which this year falls on Saturday.

Words of the Week

The Persian Empire was always against the Muslim Arab Empire, especially against the Sunnis. The threat is from Persia, not from Israel.
– Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal