Yerushalayim Shel Zahav

Originally Performed ByNaomi Shemer
Original AlbumJerusalem of Gold (1967)
Appears On
Music/LyricsNaomi Shemer
Phish Debut1993-07-16
Last Played1994-12-31
Current Gap1145
Recommended Versions1993-07-24, 1994-06-26, 1994-07-08, 1994-12-31
HistorianSaul Wertheimer


Next time you find yourself in Jerusalem, stand on King George Street in the center of town, and each time another hour passes, you will hear a familiar tune coming from the clock tower. That tune is “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav,” written by Israeli composer and folksinger Naomi Shemer, popularized on a compilation album called Jerusalem of Gold.

Shortly before the Six-Day War in 1967, Shemer was commissioned by the Israel Broadcasting Authority to write a song for the annual summer song festival. Her composition was an instant hit, and became the theme song of the war. Her beautiful poetry and the romantic, haunting melody have touched hearts across the world. Although the translation of the title of the song is easy – “Jerusalem of Gold” – the body of the song is largely metaphoric, and thus fairly hard to translate from the original Hebrew. The chorus can be translated as follows: 

“Jerusalem of gold, and of copper, and of light,
For all your songs, I am a violin.”

Turn your Hoist liner notes upside-down, and you will see the chorus written in Hebrew. Phish performed this tune a handful of times, primarily in the summer of ‘94, and you can also hear it at the end of the “Demand”-encased “SOAM” jam at the back end of Hoist.

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