SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW

The music was written by Harold Arlen, a cantor’s son. His real name was Hyman Arluck and his parents were from Lithuania.

Together, Hochberg and Arluck wrote “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” which was voted the 20th century’s number one song by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

In writing it, the two men reached deep into their immigrant Jewish consciousness – framed by the pogroms of the past and the Holocaust about to happen – and wrote an unforgettable melody set to near prophetic words.

Read the lyrics in their Jewish context and suddenly the words are no longer about wizards and Oz, but about Jewish survival:
*********************
Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high,
There’s a land that I heard of
Once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.
Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me.
Somewhere over the rainbow
Bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.
Why then, oh why can’t I?
If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can’t I?
****************
The Jews of Europe could not fly. They could not escape beyond the rainbow. Harburg was almost prescient when he talked about wanting to fly like a bluebird away from the “chimney tops.” In the post-Auschwitz era, chimney tops have taken on a whole different meaning than the one they had at the beginning of 1939.

Pink’s mom is Judith Kugel. She’s Jewish of Lithuanian background. As Pink was belting the Harburg/Arlen song from the stage at the Academy Awards, I wasn’t thinking about the movie. I was thinking about Europe’s lost Jews and the immigrants to America. I was then struck by the irony that for two thousand years the land that the Jews heard of “once in a lullaby” was not America, but Israel. The remarkable thing would be that less than ten years after “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was first published, the exile was over and the State of Israel was reborn. Perhaps the “dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.”

Submitted by Jerry Weissman

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Posted on August 22, 2015, in 2015, August, Ram's Horn. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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