Zefira, Brachah

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ZEFIRA, BRACHAH (c. 1911–1990), Israeli singer. Born in Jerusalem of Yemenite parentage, but orphaned early, Brachah Zefira spent her childhood in various foster families and became familiar with the different musical heritages of the Jewish and Arab communities. Educated at the *Me'ir Shefeyah Youth Aliyah Village, she went to Europe at the beginning of the 1930s to study singing and acting. In Berlin she met Nahum *Nardi (to whom she was married for a time) who helped shape her style, and was in turn influenced by her. Returning to Palestine, she met the new immigrant composers such as Paul *Ben-Haim, Oedoen *Partos, Alexander Uriyah *Boscovitch, Marc *Lavry, and Menahem *Avidom, to whom she introduced the musical style of the Orient on which they sought to base their work. They arranged many of her songs, composed songs especially for her, and even used some of her songs in their own compositions. She also influenced some of the younger composers. Through her personal appearances and broadcasts, Brachah Zefira, an alto, became the first national folk singer of the yishuv. The personal style which she created was compounded of Yemenite, Palestinian-Sephardi, and Arabic elements. In the 1950s, Brachah Zefirah took up abstract expressionist painting.

[Avner Bahat]