I was commissioned by Elena and Jay Lefkowitz to write this piece in honor of their daughter, Tali. Tali was a Lone Soldier in Israel for a year, something she and her parents can be proud of. By extension, this piece represents our love and our prayers for the safety of the soldiers of Tzahal who put their lives on the line to protect our people and our land.
HaZamir Long Island
As an Israeli living in the United States, one thing that has shaped me as a person and as an individual is my desire to go serve in the Israeli Defense Forces at the end of the year instead of going to college. “T’filah L’Tzahal” holds a special place in my heart. I remember standing on stage with my fellow HaZamirniks, singing this song not only to the Israeli Seniors at the time, but also to myself and the journey I had ahead of me. I remember feeling touched as if all of the members of HaZamir and the HaZamir community were singing to me and to my fellow soon-to-be soldiers. Tears stung my eyes, and I couldn’t help the smile that fell upon my face or the straightening of my spine in pride for my decision.
HaZamir HaSharon (Israel)
“T'filah L'Tzahal” is one of the first songs I learned in Zamir. From the very beginning, I knew that this was my favorite song because I was just in the 10th grade and started my process for being a soldier, and I started to take an interest in what I would do in Tzahal. As one who lives in Israel, the situation is much more difficult when you have friends who are in combat roles in the army.
I've never had such a connection to Israel until I visited it three years ago. I have some family there, but I didn’t really connect to the army or the citizens because I wasn't close to any Israeli. Last year my sister made Aliyah. Now singing “T'filah L'Tzahal” has a different meaning. Not only will I be singing for my friends’ and country's safety, but for my sister's as well.
Jay and Elena Lefkowitz
HaZamir Parents; Commissioners
In the summer of 2011, our very American HaZamirnik enlisted in the IDF as a Lone Soldier. Ever since a cross-cultural backpacking trip in Israel in eighth grade, she had been determined to put her body where her Zionist heart dwelled. HaZamir, and the Israeli friends she made there, only reinforced her determination. After three months of basic training, Tali became an officer in an elite paratrooper unit, Orev Tzanchanim. The only woman in a unit of 85 soldiers, she served as the assistant to the commander, as a den mother to her soldiers, and as a participant in nightly operations. Stationed in Hebron, Netanya, the Golan, Eilat, and on the Gaza border, Tali got to know the land and the people of Israel in a visceral and complex way.
As a Zamir Chorale singer, Elena was intimately familiar with the music of David Burger and understood the power of his music to create Zionist anthems. It seemed like the ideal time to honor our daughter’s service and that of so many courageous Israeli soldiers, and set the Prayer for the IDF to David’s unique and moving compositional style.
Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine that “T’filah L’Tzahal” would capture the hearts and imaginations of our HaZamir community in the way that it has. The connection between America and Israel is never more vivid to us than when we hear HaZamirniks raising their voices and praying that God “preserve and rescue our soldiers…and crown them with victory.”