Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Tonight Jews all over the world, and especially in Israel, begin the celebration of Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day), an Israeli national holiday commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem and the establishment of Israeli control over the Old City in June 1967.
The Chief Rabbinate of Israel declared Jerusalem Day a minor religious holiday to thank God for victory in the Six-Day War and for answering the 2,000-year-old prayer of "Next Year in Jerusalem."
The informal anthem of the day is Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold), the song written in 1967 by Naomi Shemer and first performed by Shuly Natan, who was then a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces teaching Hebrew to new immigrants from Morocco in Israel's Negev desert.
Most people think the song was written to commemorate Israel's victory in the Six Day War, but it actually was written shortly before war broke out. It was commissioned by Teddy Kollek, mayor of Jerusalem at the time, as a background song to be sung while the votes were counted for a radio song competition, similar to today's American Idol. It has grown in popularity over the years and is now second only to Hatikvah as Israel's national anthem.
We know the story because Shuly Natan told it to a Jewish National Fund national conference in 2010. We think you'd like to hear her tell the story herself, so we're sharing a video of her speech at the conference.
But before this story video, here's a beautiful rendition of Shuly Natan singing the original version of the song, which has since been covered by Ofra Haza and many other singers.
The music video is an exceptional piece of editing by Brian Vinik, who describes himself as a college student with a passion for video editing. It is a montage of video clips of Natan singing the song from 1967 to the present day, without losing the synchronization of video and audio.
Enjoy, and best wishes to the State of Israel on Yom Yerushalayim!
(A SPECIAL NOTE FOR NEW EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS: THE VIDEO MAY NOT BE VIEWABLE DIRECTLY FROM THE EMAIL THAT YOU GET EACH DAY ON SOME COMPUTERS AND TABLETS. YOU MUST CLICK ON THE TITLE AT THE TOP OF THE EMAIL TO REACH THE JEWISH HUMOR CENTRAL WEBSITE, FROM WHICH YOU CLICK ON THE PLAY BUTTON IN THE VIDEO IMAGE TO START THE VIDEO.)