Incredible versions of Yerushalayim shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold)

by Uri Gobey

The song Yerushalayim shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold) was written by the late Naomi Shemer.

Below is a bit of background for those who may not know.

I will start with Ofra Haza’s famous version which she performed at Israel’s 50th Anniversary celebration in 1998. This one is truly mind-blowing and the best. I have located the highest quality version that exists out there.

Noami was a famous Israeli songwriter & musician who was known to be the “first lady of Israeli song and poetry.” This specific song was written in 1967 and it became an unofficial second anthem after Israel won the 6-Day War. The war that reunited Jerusalem. She was known as a right wing Israeli poet who also served in the IDF, in the 1950s. This song was contrasted with the official Israeli anthem known as Hatikva as the original song described the Jewish people’s 2000 year longing to return to Jerusalem. Naomi added a final verse after the 6-Day War to celebrate Jerusalem’s re-unification. The part she added was Im Eshkachech Yerushalayim from Psalms 137. She passed away in 2004.

Her song was performed by many people, famous and unknown over the years and I picked out some of the best I have found so far for you to enjoy.

When the hairs on your arms stop standing, let me know. For those who don’t know about this song or about Ofra, read on. Ofra was an Israeli Yemenite Jewish singer, actress and Grammy Award-nominee recording artist. She became successful in Europe and the Americas; during her singing career, she earned many platinum and gold discs. In Israel, Haza was an influential cultural figure that helped to popularize Mizrahi culture. She was the youngest of nine children who were all raised in a Masorti (traditional) home. She also served 2 years in the IDF. She passed away on 23rd February 2000. May her and Naomi’s memories be a blessing and their music and voices bring us joy and tears for centuries to come.

The next version is sung A cappella by an Israeli street singer named Moshe Shabtai. He is a Jew of Afghani descent and his voice is just phenomenal. He was noticed by a famous Israeli singer named Yishai Levy who invited him to sing with him on stage at a live concert at the Zappa.

I wish I had a voice like that.

The next version was released recently by the municipality of Jerusalem after they invited some famous Israeli artists including HaYehudim, Raviv Kenner, Guy Mazig to sing along with 400 other musicians in Jerusalem and in honor of Jerusalem Day. This is a version like you have probably never heard before.

The last version is by Tal Vaknin & DJ Niv Edri and they have called this the 2.0 version.

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