I am wondering if anybody can point me to background information on the Hebrew folksong Hevenu shalom aleichem. (I think of this as an "Israeli folksong", but I am not sure if that is an accurate description.) Specifically: As far as I know there are just three words, and "shalom aleichem" is a stock Jewish greeting. Does the phrase "Hevenu shalom aleichem" appear in a scriptural or liturgical source?

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    @msh210 I'm not sure why this question is any more on-topic now than it was before. Does "hava nagila" appear in scriptural or liturgical sources? What about "God bless America"?
    – Daniel
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 19:29
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    @Daniel, the author says "'shalom aleichem' is a stock Jewish greeting". I'd argue it's a Judaism greeting (not just Jews' greeting); if that's what the author meant (whether it's correct or not), the question is on-topic and well-motivated IMO.
    – msh210
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 19:45

2 Answers 2


According to some research done by the zemereshet website, the song originated in a German cigarette company commercial ("Salam Alaikum" was its name), and performed by a Turkish band (they actually say "we smoke Salam Alaikum", and if you look at the commercial's slides, you're in for a weird experience).

Later, in 1943, the same tune was found in an American songbook for Jewish soldiers. There's some more information in the above link.

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    Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/2405 (consider cross-posting this answer there, too). By the way, "we smoke" in German is "wir rauchen," which matches the number of syllables in "heiveinu."
    – Fred
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 23:44
  • +1 I'm not telling bubby. She wouldn't believe me anyways. But, as interesting as this is, the OP asked for a source for the words, not the melody.
    – user6591
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 0:16
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    @user6591 This information relates to both words and melody. If it is indeed based on a German commercial that sang the motto "we smoke Salam Alaikum", then we have a pretty good idea of how this became hevenu shalom aleichem...
    – Cauthon
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 0:20
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    That's true. Two out of three ain't bad. And then some Gan Morah put in Heveinu and the rest is history.
    – user6591
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 0:22
  • Actually @user6591 in the original question I asked about both the words and the melody, but the latter was deemed off-topic and was edited out. So I appreciate this answer. I wonder, though, if the commercial was possibly a parody of a pre-existing song -- the info on the zemereshet site (as I understand it) does not rule out that possibility.
    – mweiss
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 1:13

According to this book, page 194, many of the "early Israeli" folktunes such as the one you mention were influenced by the culture of the early immigrants. This song comes from roughly the same era as the popular "Hava Nagila". "Heveinu Shalom Aleichem's" tune originated from a Hassidic tune.

The words "Shalom Aleichem" are mentioned most notably as part of Kiddush Levana prayer as well as Friday night song before the meal. They are probably mentioned in the Talmud as well as other places, though, I can't think of it, now.

It's possible that liturgy may have influenced the composer to use these words to this tune, though the addition of the word "Hevienu" I don't think is found in any Biblical or Talmudic source. As the song was meant, in a sense, to convey greetings and friendship, it seems the composer appended this word.

  • Heveinu Shalom Aleichem's" tune originated from a Hassidic tune. Is this your conjecture? Was it stated in the linked book? In a different source?
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 1:10
  • @mevaqesh It comes from the linked source.
    – mweiss
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 1:14
  • @mevaqesh Correct ^^^. Let me know if there is a problem with the link, please.
    – DanF
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 3:54

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