Shmor al Ha’olam (Yeled) : Watch Over This World (Child)

One of my all-time favorite pieces of music/song. It was sung by famous Israeli singer David D’or in 1993 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_D’Or) and has now become iconic. It has been sung by Arab-Israeli children’s peace groups and other activist groups. It has been sung in mosques and churches and for the then President of the United States Bill Clinton.

It is a lament and lullaby. For centuries certain groups have been through untold suffering and displacement due to bigotry and its use in political assimilation and destruction, and that the World War II holocaust was the most horrific and culmination of that in the most popular global imagination. If you understand this, then this song will make sense to you as as a lullaby sung to the child as they fall to sleep, by a parent who comforts, teaches, cautions.

The song, typically Jewish in its outlook which includes the world in which we live and is not about escaping to a safe planet, is about responsibilities and navigating in a world of trouble. This song touches me deeply. Even as I had heard it for the first time and did not understand Hebrew or other Jewish languages, I cried. The song came across to me strongly without the words’ meanings.  After finding the translation, I cried again.  It confirmed something.  Also, it links to my own life, as my mother sang Ituski no Komoriuta to me as a lullaby, which is a very different song with the same theme of comforting yet inviting and expressing sadness.

Please read, listen carefully.

Imagine that you have been displaced, targeted, ridiculed, used, tormented, imprisoned, murdered, betrayed, century after century. Not just on your own lands, but everywhere you seemed to go.

Even as there may have been peace for awhile, you learned to take care of each other and not to assimilate too much. Then if one of your children did, perhaps you were afraid that the memory and love of that child that you have, would be lost forever to your own child. So you must remember and pass the memory down. The memory of the hard life; legacies that visit us.

As you can imagine with such a song that has relevancy to so many people in the world, especially for the Jewish people, the song has many many versions. I will have other versions to post later.

Here is a version by David D’or. He was the original singer and composer.

Verse 1

Tishmor al ha’olam yeled
yesh dvarim she’asur lir’ot
Tishmor al ha’olam yeled
im tir’eh, tafsik li’chyot
Gibor shel ha’olam yeled,
im chiyuch shel mala’chim
Tishmor al ha’olam yeled
ki anachnu kvar lo matzlichim
Verse 2

Tishmor al ha’olam yeled
al tagzim be’machshavot
Ki kama she’teda yoter yeled
ata rak tavin pachot
u’ve’sha’a me’suyemet
nisgarot kol ha’dlatot
ve’chol ha’ahava nigmeret
rak ata mamshich li’chyot

Watch Over This World (Child)

Verse 1

Watch over the world child,

There are forbidden things to see

Watch over the world child,

If you see, you’ll stop being…

Hero of the world child,

With an angel’s smile

Watch over the world child,

We do not succeed in it anymore…

Verse 2

Watch over the world child,

Don’t think too much

The more you know, child,

The less you understand…

And at certain hours

All doors will slam shut

And all the love will end

Only you will remain, wondering….

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