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  • Foto del escritorJuanpablo Barrantes

A hymn about hope and resilience; and two inspiring true stories

Juanpablo Barrantes 

Leader’s approach 

Have you ever heard of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole? Just think on a sweet ukelele-solo melody played and sung by a man with such a great charisma and tenderness in his voice... It’s called “Somewhere over the rainbow”. In 1988, Israel recorded his own version of this beautiful song that is symbol of life’s hope and resilience: Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high. There’s a land that I’ve 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, high above the chimney tops, that’s where you’ll find me. Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds 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? There are some insightful lessons in both the original music and lyrics and in the subsequent Israel’s version of this song. Story 1: the authors of the song. Starting with the lyrics, its author Yip Harbug, was the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants. His real name was Isidore Hochberg, and he grew up in a Yiddish-speaking, Orthodox Jewish home in New York. The music was written by Harold Arlen, a Jew whose family immigrated from Lithuania. Together they put a song that has won awards and garnered global fame. Among other things they won an Oscar in 1940 for “Best Music, Original Song” for “The Wizard of Oz” and the song was voted the number one song of the 20th century by the Recording Industry Association of America and the National Endowment for the Arts. Many of us can relate to the song; we have all experienced troubles in our lives, but it is when you apply this song to the Jewish people and the Holocaust that the song takes on a whole new meaning. The song was first published in 1939, at a time when the Jews in Europe were coming under increased hostility. Their freedoms were being taken away, their identity being dragged through the dirt, and many of them were feeling isolated. They were trapped, unable to “fly”. The song is about hope, that the bad times will one day be over. It is this feeling of hope within the song that we can all relate to and it is hope that helped the Jewish people through the Holocaust. Yip did not know what the future held for the Jewish people when he wrote this song. The lyrics “chimney tops” take on a harrowing new meaning now that we know the horrors of the Holocaust. I am sure many Jews looked to the skies above Auschwitz’s chimney’s, longing for the day they were free. The many chimney’s at Auschwitz. However, while the Jewish people, and no doubt the whole world, went through some of the darkest days in history, it was less than ten years after the song was written that the most powerful words of the song were fulfilled. There’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby.” The Jews dreamed of a homeland for their people. A dream that was fulfilled in 1948 when the nation of Israel was reborn. Israel is a testament to the Jewish people that the “dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.” It seems that our world is once again on the edge of dark times. This song reminds us that though we face uncertain events, we still have hope, and our hope is in God. Story 2: the best version of the song. Going back again to the most known and popular version of this wonderful song, I have to mention this great, big Hawaiian guy named Israel (IZ) Kamakawiwo’ole (1959 - 1997). He had a particular story while he just recorded the song. It has to be with passion and full inspiration since the original recording of his song happened in just one shot, and not only that, it just required the very first recording shot! No rehearsals needed... That day, IZ insistently called the recording studio, and it was until 3 in the morning that he finally convinced the owner of the studio to let him play the ukelele and sing, one shot and it was over. Just imagine how passionate he was to perform this song in his own version, how authentic and charismatic he was! The song actually became so famous precisely because of his particular inspiring interpretation. This is indeed a bold lesson for anyone who is pursuing a blissful life: —dare to dream, be brave about your purpose, show passion in whatever you do and be the inspiration of others, they may eventually feel encouraged to follow your path—. By Juanpablo Barrantes

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