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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Yerushalayim Shel Zahav
(Jerusalem of Gold)

 

This page contains a translation into English of the lyrics to the beautiful Israeli song "Yerushalayim Shel Zahav". Also included is a transliteration of the Hebrew lyrics into the Roman alphabet so you can sing along if you like.

The song was composed in 1967 for the Israel Song Festival. The song has attracted controversy because of its references to the fact that the city of Jerusalem was (at the time it was composed) a divided city. A month after the song was performed at the festival, Israeli forces captured the Old City. The song has taken on a great deal of importance for the Israeli people. Some even regard it as the second national anthem, after "ha-Tikvah".

This song has appeared on at least one music album recorded by musicians popular with belly dancers, under the song titles "Orshilim" and "Jerusalem of Gold". Dancers are advised to use extreme caution when deciding whether to dance to this song, because of its political nature and its iconic status with the Israeli people. I have included this translation here on my web site as a warning for dancers who may find it on a CD and feel tempted to use it without knowing what the lyrics are about.

Song lyrics are provided for educational purposes. If you like the song, please purchase either the album or a download from an authorized source.

Lyrics and Music: Naomi Shemer

Naomi Shemer

 

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Listen to MP3 Clips of This Song

Note

Performed on harp by Rachel Van Voorhees

 

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Lyrics

Hebrew Lyrics

English Translation

Verse 1:

Verse 1:

Avir harim tzalul kayayinvvere'ach oranim Mountain air as clear as wine, and the scent of pine
Nisa baru-ach ha'arbayim im kol pa-amonim Borne on the evening wind with the sound of bells
Uvtardemat ilan va'even shvuya bacholomah And in the slumber of trees and stone, imprisoned in her dream
Ha'eer asher badad yoshevet uviliba chomah Is the city which dwells alone, a wall within her heart
   

Chorus:

Chorus:

Yerushalayim shel zahav, veshel nechoset veshel ohr Jerusalim of Gold, of bronze and light
Halo lechal shirayich ani kinor I am the violin for all your songs
   

Verse 2:

Verse 2:

Eykha yavhsu borot hamayim How have the cisterns dried out
Kikar hashuk reyka. The market square is empty.
Ve'eyn poked et Har habayit b'eer ha'atika And no one goes up to the Temple Mount in the Old City
Uvamarot asher basela meyalelot rukhot Through the caves in the rocks, the winds howl
Ve'eyn yored et Yam Hamelech bederech Yericho And no one goes down to the Dead Sea by the way of Jericho
   

Repeat Chorus

Repeat Chorus

   

Verse 3:

Verse 3:

Ach bavo'i hayom lashir lach But when I come today to sing to you
Velach likshur ketarim And to bind garlands for you
Katanti mitzeer banayich I become smaller than the youngest of your sons
Um 'acharon hamshorerim And the least of your poets
   

Repeat Chorus

Repeat Chorus

   

Verse 4:

Verse 4:

Ki shmech tzorev et hasfatayim For your name burns the lips
Kinishika saraf Like the kiss of an angel
Eem eshkakech Yerushalayim Let me not forget thee, O Jerusalem
Asher kala zahav That all of Gold
   

Repeat Chorus

Repeat Chorus

   

Verse 5:

Verse 5:

Hazarnu el borot hamayim lashuk velakikar We have returned to the market, the cistern, and the square.
Shofar koreh behar habayit b'eer ha'atika The shofar calls on the Temple Mount in the Old City
Uvamarot asher basela alfei shmashot zorchot And from the caves in the rocks, 1,000 suns glow again
Veshuv naded el yam hamelech baderech Yericho We will go down to the Dead Sea by way of Jericho

 

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Where to Get Recordings of this Song

Jewish Favorites CD Cover

Note

Listen to Clip

Artist: Rachel Van Voorhees
CD Title: Jewish Favorites

 

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About the Translator

Many thanks to Shoshana for providing this translation for this web site!!

 

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