Jerusalem of Gold
Presentation and Performance Outline
Adam Kuphaldt and William Li

History
Naomi Shemer was commissioned by Teddy Kollek, then mayor of Jerusalem, to write a songfor the 1967 Israel Song Contest in the noncompetitive portion. This event was sponsored by the national radio station, Kol Israel–the voice of Israel.
Gil Adema, producer of the event, searched through archives and found that there were less than a few dozen songs about Jerusalem, and so requested that she write about Jerusalem.
Naomi Shemer was hesitant at first, and after all, no one at that time would ever say Jerusalem was of gold; the city was divided by a buffer zone between Israelis and Jordanians filled with land mines and barbed fences, with soldiers guarding the border. She eventually agreed, realizing Jerusalem held a special place in her heart.
Shemer’s song was later found to have been plagiarized off a traditional Navarrese song called Pello Joxepe from the Basque country (in the western Pyrenees between France and Spain along the coast). The song was originally written by Juan Francisco Petriarena Xenpelar back in the nineteenth century, and the version Shemer copied was a cover by Paco Ibanez. Mr. Ibanez later said no harm was done.

Lyrics – Symbolism and Meaning
Though the song traditionally has a very Jewish-centric take, a deeper analysis reveals much more. In fact, the song links together Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
The song gained popularity because it pervaded every facet of Jewish life. Militarily the song was the rallying cry for the Israeli Defense Force when they prepared for war. In regards to spirituality, the song has many religious references and metaphors.

Jerusalem of Gold, today
We were able to find some interesting ways the song is still performed, demonstrating its popularity even nearly fifty years since it debuted:
The Blue Stars Drum and Bugle Corps based in La Crosse, Wisconsin has Yerushalayim Shel Zahav as their corps song, and they play it before every competition.
Jewish musician Sam Glaser realizes that “many of the standards, the absolute birthright of Jewish kids, are being forgotten. Those songs–they include… “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav”– were the great common denominator songs of [his] childhood.”
During President Shimon Peres’ birthday celebration, with a lot of important people from the international community, Mizrahi singer Eyal Golan was asked to perform Yerushalayim Shel Zahav.

About the performance
Adam and William are avid vocalists, drawing experience from 2-A.M.-in-the-morning-shower singing. That, of course, has not stopped them from taking stage at the Magnes. The arrangement is performed in the modified key of C minor. The lyrics are that of Ofra Haza’s original performance.

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