Jerusalem of Gold

Golden Jerusalem

There is a song, written by our dear songwriter, Naomi Shemer, honoring the city of Jerusalem, and written while half the city was still under the occupation of Jordan. The song is called, Jerusalem of Gold. Here is a translation into English. The translator is unknown.

Jerusalem Of Gold
by Naomi Shemer

As clear as wine, the wind is flying
Among the dreamy pines
As evening light is slowly dying
And a lonely bell still chimes,
So many songs, so many stories
The stony hills recall…
Around her heart my city carries
A lonely ancient wall.

Jerusalem all of gold
Jerusalem, bronze and light
Within my heart I shall treasure
Your song and sight.

Alas, the dry wells and fountains,
Forgotten market-day
The sound of horn from Temple’s mountain
No longer calls to pray,
The rocky caves at night are haunted
By sounds of long ago
When we were going to the Jordan
By way of Jericho.

Jerusalem all of gold
Jerusalem, bronze and light
Within my heart I shall treasure
Your song and sight.

But when I come to count your praises
And sing Hallel to you
With pretty rhymes I dare not crown you
As other poets do,
Upon my lips
is always burning

Your name, so dear, so old:
If I forget Jerusalem
Of bronze and light and gold…

Jerusalem all of gold
Jerusalem, bronze and light
Within my heart I shall treasure
Your song and sight.

Back to the wells and to the fountains
Within the ancient walls
The sound of horn from Temple’s mountain
Again so loudly calls,
From rocky caves, this very morning
A thousand suns will glow
As we shall go down to the Jordan
By way of Jericho.

Jerusalem all of gold
Jerusalem, bronze and light
Within my heart I shall treasure
Your song and sight.

The song described the Jewish people’s 2000-year longing to return to Jerusalem, and many of the lyrics refer to traditional Jewish poetry and themes. It became very popular in our town. After the ‘old city’ was liberated, I was commissioned by a member of parliament to produce a picture that he wanted to give the Knesset as a gift. The first sketch I produced did not receive his approval. I then went with my son Jonah to the mount of olives, very early one morning, before the sunrise. The camera was in place, set on a tripod, and I took this picture shortly after the sunrise. I named the picture after the song, and have dedicated it to the songwriter. The picture now hangs in a committee discussion hall in the Knesset.

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73 responses to “Jerusalem of Gold

  1. Impressive picture so its only right that it hangs in such an imposing setting

  2. Beautiful photo, beautiful words, Shimon.

  3. Jerusalem of Gold captured during the golden hour. Perfect Shimon. It’s a beautiful photograph!

    • Thank you very much, Chillbrook. It is because of you, that I thought of publishing this picture now. You had posted a beautiful shot of the bay and St. Ives, and mentioned that it was your first shot at dawn, and I remembered this picture, which I prepared for while it was still dark, and then shot when the light was just the way I wanted it.

  4. It is indeed a beautiful post, and what a magical photo. We have a hymn called ‘Jerusalem the golden’ and I can empathise with the longing expressed in Naomi Shemer’s poem.

    • Yes, aside for my own personal love for Jerusalem, I am always aware of the fact that there are people all over the world who love this city from afar. And I am always grateful for my very good luck to be living here. Thank you for your comment, Gillyk.

  5. 5 x 4 I presume. Nice picture. I will always my one day trip to Jurusalem, walking through the old streets so narrow you could almost touch both sides with oustretched arms in places. And the people! Appearing and vanishing in and out of little alley ways. I stood on the Mount of Olives and saw this view.

    • How wonderful that you had an opportunity to visit here, Bill. What a shame that it was only for one day. There are many faces to Jerusalem; age old buildings, as well as new and modern designs.. narrow alleys and modern freeways as well. I hope you’ll have more opportunities to visit our city. Thank you for your comment.

  6. Shimon, your picture is beautiful, with the morning sun breaking over the city. The post made me want to hear the song (which I then found on youtube.com). Thank you for another glimpse of your beautiful homeland.

  7. Beautiful words and beautiful photographs. I found this song too. Thank you dear Shimon, have a nice weekend, love, nia

  8. What beautiful words, they really tell a story. I must google it and see if I can listen to it on the internet.

    Your picture is brilliant, the city is glowing and looks warm and golden. How wonderful that it still hangs in the committee discussion hall in the Knesset.xxxxx

    • I think I’ll have to organize my photos of Jerusalem, Dina, so that it will be easier for people to get a full picture of this city. But this is definitely one of my favorites. And I love the song too, though I realize there are quite a few different versions. Thank you for your comment.

  9. What an honor and what a tribute to your gifts, Shimon; your photo so perfectly illustrates the dream-like longing for a paradise on earth, which seems to really get down to yearning for home, the source of our original stories. Thank you so much.

    • Oh, I think I can testify that this city is not a paradise on earth. It has its good sides, and those that are less attractive. But there does seem to be a lot of aspiration to holiness here, and there is a lot of love for learning, and for one another, in our city. Thank you so much for your comment, Catherine.

  10. both the song and the picture are things to be very proud of.

  11. Such a stunning photograph and testament… what an honor it must have been to be able to contribute such a gift to such a beautiful nation. 🙂

  12. It’s funny as I read the words I realize that I never really new the English version. I am partial to the Hebrew version. It’s a beautiful song, a beautiful city and a beautiful photograph. Shabbat Shalom Shimon.

    • Like yourself, I too am partial to the Hebrew version. After people commented that they had heard the song on youtube, I tried it myself, and was sorry that I hadn’t put a link in to the version by Shuli Natan. But I suppose everyone sees and feels things in a slightly different way… Thank you for your comment, and shavuah tov, Edith.

  13. Beautiful poem Shimon!!

  14. Very nice photo. I love the three simple zones created by the light. Beautiful song even after translation. What an honor to be selected to create an image for such a great gift.

  15. That is an exquisite image Shimon – what an honor to you, and a treasure to those who see it, hanging in such a privileged spot! And what a lovely song – (I marvel at how a translator can not only translate the words but communicate the original beauty of a piece.)

    • Unfortunately, a poem or a song almost always loses something in translation, and this case is no exception. I am very aware of this problem because I’ve done some translating myself. But still, we want to share sometimes, out of our own culture. Thank you so much for your comment, Spree.

  16. It made me wonder if it rhymed in Hebrew as well. Yes, I marveled too.

  17. I’m still with you and your wonderful blog posts, Shimon, always will … Love, cat.

  18. A beautiful photo of a beautiful city Shimon.

  19. A most wonderful photograph of a beautiful city. I’m going to google the song and see if I can hear it.

  20. In the photo, Jerusalem looks like a city of gold. What a honor to have it hang in the Knesset.

    • Yes, I only thought of the gold because of the song. Though I love Jerusalem with all my heart, it isn’t associated with gold in my mind (most of the time). Rather, with books and learning, and prayer and some spiritual values that are even harder to portray in a photograph. Thank you, yearstricken, for your comment.

  21. I am very happy to see Jerusalem is golden again.

  22. Beautiful picture and poem – and they fit very well together.

  23. Such a wonderful picture with a broad perspective of the city! It fits the verses of the song very well. Excellent job, I love the way you use the camera’s eye!

  24. Good match of poem and picture … Hi Shimon!

  25. It’s a fantastic picture, Shimon, and fits the poem’s spirit very well.

  26. So resplendent in its veil of gold gossamer. We saw Jerusalem one time like this and were transfixed. Thanks for the treat and re-awakening the memory, Shimon.

    The words of the song; it is the first time I have seen them. I have not heard them sung, yet, as I read through those words and phrases a flow of sound followed my reading. It’s all very special.

    • Thank you, menhir. I’m so happy that you had the opportunity to visit our city. The song was so popular for a while, that it became sort of a second anthem for our country. Glad you liked it.

  27. this is so beautiful; both picture and song. There’s nothing I can say without it sounding too simple I think!


  28. I listened to both this version and the 1967 version. I like the 1967 version better, I think, because the guitar sounds softer and more melodic.
    It’s a beautiful song. A ballad.

    Yes, people the world over regard Jerusalem as their city. When I was growing up, many people talked of the “trip of a lifetime” after having visited Jerusalem. It was always spoken of as a transformative spiritual experience. Groups of church members joined together for trips back then. It was a big deal.

    The photograph is inspired, Shimon. I love it, and I love the image of you waiting on the hill for the sunrise. You are indeed fortunate to live in the Holy City.

    Shalom, my friend.

    • Thank you very much, George. I am well aware of the widespread love for Jerusalem, and often meet tourists who have come to experience the city. Very glad that you enjoyed this picture. It is one of many I have taken here, but it is especially loved.

  29. Oh, I didn’t realize the link would actually insert the player into the comment. Of course. I apologize for that. 🙂

    • You don’t have to apologize for inserting that link. I really like it. I love to hear the song in Hebrew. I heard one version that I didn’t care for recently, but this one is beautiful. It stays. And thank you, George.

  30. Your picture is truly amazing. Is it for sale?
    I have to admit that Shuli Natan’s voice did not do it for me. I actually love other songs about Jerusalem. The words, though, are beautiful, as is Jerusalem. 2013 is a year for a visit ( Im ir’tzeh ha’shem).

  31. This photo is so beautiful, Jerusalem truly is a city of gold x

  32. Shimon – today has been an interesting day in my world. I met a young man, and we got to talking about one thing, and that pointed us in the direction of something else altogether, and that led me to grab a pen and give him my email address, which ended up creating an opportunity for me to send him a link to your blog, which then led me to visit your blog myself today, which took me to your post about your Jerusalem of Gold photograph, (which is breathtakingly lovely to view), which led me to youtube to listen to the Shuli Natan version of the song, which led me back to where I began. Looking for one thing, and finding another.

    This young man and I began a conversation about home buying and woodwork workmanship, and ended up in the direction of spirituality and Judaism, and I can’t help but take notice that what began as one thing, became another. When I first met you in the blogging world, I had one idea, and now my eyes have been opened to a wider view, thanks to you.

    Thank you for sharing a part of your world, and for sharing this beautiful example of your craft, and especially for taking the time to be patient, and kind, with someone who has questions. So many questions. Your photo, in one respect or another, is one of the answers. Thank you.

    • I love the way you write… it’s a comment, but it’s like a letter, and one really gets to taste a bit of your experience. Yes, meeting someone new is a lot like finding yourself in a strange city… you don’t know where you’re going to get, and what you’re going to learn. You can still make choices, but you don’t really know where those choices will lead. I’m glad you liked the picture. The other night, I came home and sat in my dining corner, and looked at one of my pictures that I made many years ago. I thought of the many pictures I’ve made, and how some were like intimate friends… and some like work… and some a story, a parable, or a metaphor to illustrate the human living experience. I looked at the picture I’d chosen to hang on the wall many years ago, and it had stayed there. It was for me, the story of my relationship to photography… but I don’t know if anyone else would be able to guess that, looking at it. Some pictures have so many very fine details in them, that when you publish them on the internet, people don’t see what is unique about the picture. But maybe they see something else, and get the message, even though the beauty isn’t the same that I admire. That happens with people too, sometimes in writing or blogging, they come across differently than we know them… but are still loved… even though their most fantastic qualities don’t really come across. How sweet of you to write. Thank you.

  33. Truly a golden experience to see your work.As a beginner I am pretty ignorant but I can guess at the work involved

    • Thank you very much Mary. When you know the work, it’s not at all hard. It is a source of great pleasure… and what matters is finding a way to transfer your vision to the paper or the screen.

  34. The picture causes me to tremble. It is other-worldly…it is only as I have imagined in my mind’s eye. The fact that you have seen this place, at that hour, as it is…amazes me. I treasure that I know you, even within this medium.

    • Thank you very much for your comment, painter lady. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to live my life in this very special city. There are so many faces to the city… and all of them very interesting… all of them moving to those who love the city, but this picture is somewhat iconic. I am very happy that you enjoyed it.

  35. The Skyline itself expresses half of your words! Lovely read. Thanks for sharing this post!

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