Ofra Haza in Memoriam
It’s been ten years already. I still remember that day in February 2000 when I entered the cafeteria in the Rothberg building at Hebrew University to buy my morning coffee and noticed the huge portrait set in a thick black frame on the wall. It turned out that the grumpy, quiet macho-man who ran the cafeteria was a huge Ofra Haza fan, and her death crushed him. The portrait remained on the wall until the day I left the university.
Ever since her death, Ofra Haza has been the object of veneration so intense that it probably has kept both Evita Perón and the Virgin Mary spinning in their graves all through the last decade.
Today Ofra Haza is universally loved and praised, but that wasn’t always the case. In the 1980s, a vicious and intense war shook Israel (and no, I don’t refer to that Lebanese adventure). At that time, the fans of Ofra Haza, the daughter of Yemenite immigrants from the poor neighborhood Hatikva in Tel Aviv, fought against the fans of Yardena Arazi – the representative of Ashkenazi bourgeois pop-culture. Yardena might be the sole survivor of the two stars, but ten years after the final battle Ofra is the one that shines the brightest.
A trauma almost as great as the war with Yardena Arazi, was the way in which Ofra Haza died. I can only begin to wonder what went through the head of the macho-man at the university cafeteria when he heard that the decease that claimed Ofra Haza’s life was AIDS. To have the queen of purity die of such a stigmatized illness only added to the shock of her untimely death. A small comfort would be to know that this shock might have done something to break the silence of shame that surrounded AIDS in those days.
יהיה זכרה ברוך
Entry filed under: Arts.