Renowned Israeli composer Nachum Heiman dies at 82

Nachum (Nahtche) Heiman composed more than 1,000 songs over the years, and also hosted a program on Arutz Sheva radio.

Elad Benari,

Nachum Heiman meets Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Nachum Heiman meets Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Moshe Milner/GPO

Nachum (Nahtche) Heiman, an Israel Prize laureate and one of the country’s most famous composers, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 82.

Heiman, who was born in Latvia in 1934 and moved with his family to Israel at the age of 5, was raised in Tel Aviv, Kibbutz Naan and Kibbutz Kfar Maccabi.

He founded many singing groups over the years, among them the folk singers group Gevatron, and composed thousands of songs, among them “Hofim”, “Anshei Hageshem”, “Kmo Tzemach Bar”, “Od Hozer Hanigun”, and many more.

Heiman once hosted a weekly radio program on Arutz Sheva in which he would play Hebrew songs and tell the stories behind them.

In 2009, he received the Israel Prize in the field of Hebrew song. He also won lifetime achievement awards from the musicians’ organization ACUM, from Bar Ilan University and the Israeli Academy of Film and Television.

Rabbanit Shulamit Melamed, Director of Arutz Sheva, expressed her condolences over Heiman’s death on Wednesday evening, saying, "Nahtche, besides being a great composer, loved the land of Israel and broadcast his program on Arutz Sheva on a regular basis. He loved and respected Arutz Sheva, which gave a place of honor to old Hebrew music.”

She further noted that Heiman once came to perform in Beit El “without thinking about politics and without the fear of what people will think and say.”

Heiman’s daughter Si, a well-known singer and musician herself, said on Wednesday, “Today I say goodbye to my father, a farewell that began long ago, but when the moment came it obviously came too early. Dad lived his life like the thousands of songs he wrote, he became the soundtrack for all of us, but for me he was my father and I miss him already.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed his condolences and said, "Nahtche composed the soundtrack of our lives in Israel and is one of the greatest composers Israel has had. The songs he left behind planted in our hearts the love of the people and of our homeland and will accompany Israel for generations to come.”

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein eulogized Heiman as well and said, "There are not many like Nachum Heiman who left their imprint so deeply in Hebrew music. Nahtche was and will remain the inalienable property of Israel, not only because of his talent but also because of his personality and love for the country and the people which is very evident in his work. May his memory be blessed."

Heiman’s coffin will be placed outside the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday and a ceremony in his memory will start approximately 30 minutes later. He will be laid to rest at 6:00 p.m. in Kfar Saba.