Saving the Home of Israeli Music's First Lady

Naomi Shemer's house was one of the first in Kibbutz Kvutzat Kinneret and later also home of veteran intelligence man Shaul Avigur.

The Society for Preservation of Israeli Heritage Sites has prepared a plan to renovate and preserve the home of the late songwriter and Israel Prize recipient Naomi Shemer at Kvutzat Kinneret. The plan, which would cost 3 million shekels ($780,000,) will be discussed Monday by the Knesset lobby for preservation of heritage sites.

The house is one of the first three to be built in Kibbutz Kvutzat Kinneret, which was founded in 1929. It is believed that Shemer’s classic song “The Eucalyptus Grove,” was written about the complex. “Apart from the legacy of the families, the buildings are architectural constructions which must be preserved,” preservation society officials say.

Kibbutz member Amiram Idelman, who guides legacy tours, told Haaretz that Shemer’s house was “severely neglected and abandoned. Several years ago it was painted, but that was all. For many years now its historical importance has been forgotten.”

Lali Shemer, Naomi’s daughter, recalled that “from the balcony one can see the view that she saw and that inspired Rachel’s poem “Sham Harei Golan,” which was the first song mother composed without writing the lyrics. She identified with every word in the poem and requested that it be sung at her funeral.”

The house was also the home of Shaul Avigur, one of the founders of the Israeli Intelligence Community. Originally Shaul Meirov, he changed his surname to Avigur (father of Gur) after losing his son Gur in 1948. He took part in the defense of Tel-Hai, commanded Mossad Le’aliyah Bet, which smuggled Jews into Palestine, and was David Ben-Gurion’s deputy defense minister during the 1948 war. Meir Sapir, his neighbor and Shemer’s father, replaced him as the commander of Mossad Le’aliyah Bet.

Society director Omri Shalmon said that “there is now an opportunity to preserve the site. One can hope that since it the Shemer and Avigur families lived there, we will soon be able to find the funds for the preservation.”

Yael Rozen