In May 1967, the world heard the song Yerushalayim Shel Zahav, Jerusalem of Gold, for the first time as Shuli Nathan stood on stage and sang the words written by Naomi Shemer. At the time, the Old City of Jerusalem was still under control of the Jordanians, and the Jewish people were banned from the city, unable to visit The Kotel, the holiest site in Judaism.
Three weeks after the May festival, Israeli paratroopers liberated the city during the Six-Day War, and when they finally reached The Kotel, what did they do? They sang Yerushalayim Shel Zahav. Since then, the song has become the unofficial anthem of the Jewish people. But, what about the other version of the song, titled Yerushalayim Shel Barzel, Jerusalem of Iron, telling the tales of war and darkness? Mishy Harman and the Israel Story crew told this story, among others, to a packed audience at Waterside last month.
Sponsored by the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and the Virginia Arts Festival, Israel Story, an English-speaking Israeli podcast focusing on stories of the average Israeli person, came to Tidewater to premier its new show, Mixtape—The Stories Behind Israel’s Ultimate Playlist, celebrating Israel’s 70th anniversary. For a couple of hours, the show explored the stories of seven popular Israeli songs, including Yerushalayim Shel Zahav, with live music, video, and animations from artist Hanoch Piven.
“The Virginia Arts Festival was very honored to partner with the United Jewish Federation on this amazing production. The stories were so powerful and the music and animation brought them to life,” says Rob Cross, Virginia Arts Festival’s executive director. “What a great way to wrap up the opening weekend of our 2018 season.”
– Melissa Eichelbaum