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Naomi Polani: The grandmother of Israeli music

Today, Naomi Polani passed away at the age of 96. Polani has had a career in music and performing arts for almost 80 years, and has accompanied Israeli culture since the establishment of the state. In 2019, she won the Israel Prize for Theater and Dance, and many of her works have become iconic and major assets in Israeli culture.

Polani was born in 1927 in Tel Aviv, and studied theatre and dance from a young age. In 1945, she joined the Palmach on settlement missions, and with the outbreak of the War of Independence she became one of the founders of the Cheesebatron (Cheesebat (night story) + Theatre), the Palmach’s (and later the IDF’s) entertainment and morale center, which was in practice the first military band, and was responsible for many prominent works that accompanied the young State of Israel.

In the 50s, Polani worked at the Cameri Theater, and at the same time became the principal organizer of the IDF military bands. In 1960, Polani formed the ‘Tarnegolim’ band (the Chickens), which became one of the most important and influential in Israel at the time, and served as its principal director. In the 70s, Polani worked in radio shows, and from the 80s, she lowered her profile to a certain level, which was reflected in her move from Tel Aviv to the Kinneret Moshav, and changing her main focus to teaching and local performances. In the 21st century, she appeared in several films and series, despite her advanced age.

Polanyi was married to Lior Yeinni, one of the most prominent actors and singers in Israel in its first decades, and the couple had two children. Polani personally worked with many of the pillars of Israeli culture, including Shaika Ophir and Haim Hefer, and in a later perspective it can be said without a doubt that she, herself, was quite a significant pillar.

To respond – rxpuyhi@gmail.com

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