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The Israeli song from 2001 became a hit again

“What a day I had Samuel” by the band of joys is one of the favorite songs of Omar Vankert, who was kidnapped to Gaza – and he even sang it to his friends in captivity to maintain optimism. Now his father, Shay Venkert, tells about his son’s connection to the song and the hope that he will come back and hear it in concert

Yeftah Carmeli Mako | Posted 04/07/24 10:23 | Updated 04/07/24 11:13

The song of the band of joys from 2001 became viral – thanks to the abductee Omar Vankert | Photo: Courtesy of the family

“What a day I had Samuel” by the band of happiness became a TikTok hit, 23 years after it was released – and seemingly for no particular reason. But it turns out that the bitter song of the band of joys is the favorite song of 22-year-old Omar Wenkert, who was kidnapped to Gaza in the Hamas attack on October 7. Little by little, thanks to his family and friends who demanded to hear the song on the radio stations – it became a hit. Now Omar’s father, Shay Venkert, tells in an interview with Mako about his kidnapped son’s composition to the song of the band of happiness.

“I didn’t know the song at first either,” says Shay. “Omer would listen to this song with his friends or his brother, whenever he was traveling in the car. His brother told us how much he loved this song. We put it on the playlist in ‘Echo 99’, and even when they asked the families to dedicate songs on the radio, we dedicated this song Omar really liked parties, and recently one of the DJs remixed the song,” he explains. “I don’t have a direct connection to Israel in Bright from HaShimchut, but I know he is waiting to sing this song to Omar when he returns. People just started hearing it everywhere and we are constantly reciting and singing the song. It has become an anchor for me.”

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@noya_chekoral what day eh #foryou #Noihtsikoral ♬ What a day I had Samuel – Hasmachot

But the song not only strengthened Omar’s family while they wait for their loved one to return – but also Omar himself, and the abductees around him. Omer’s father says that they spoke with Liam Orr, one of the abductees who was released after 54 days, and according to his descriptions Omer would sing the song and with his help try to maintain optimism. “We also met Thais who were in captivity with Omar and Liam, we arrived with a shirt with Omar’s face on it and they pointed and said ‘Samuel, Samuel’. He probably strengthens them a lot there, keeps them optimistic and hopeful,” says Shay.

Shai Venkert, Omar’s father, during a debate in the Knesset Photo: Knesset Channel

In the meantime, Omar received another special dedication related to the song. “Omer loves jewelry, and a designer named Kori designed a special ring for Omer, at Liam’s request,” says Shay. On the ring there is a decoration with the words: “What a day I had Samuel”. “All the friends went and made a necklace, and only Omar is waiting for the ring,” says Shay.

Omar’s optimism in captivity did not surprise his family. “We were surprised by his strength, because this is still a situation that no one has been in – but Omar knows how to create peace and tranquility and be very optimistic and imbued with faith. We are not surprised by this. This song indicates that he has an optimistic nature,” says his father, and hopes that he and all The abductees will soon return.

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