Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Yerushalayim shel zahav - Jerusalem of Gold

Jerusalem is often called the golden city. Originally the expression came from an engraving found on an ancient jewel unearthed in one of city's many excavations, but these days it usually refers to a song made famous in the late 60's. Nowadays the song, Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold), is practically the unofficial national anthem.

Its lyrics do ring true: whereas turquoise was Akko's colour and green that of Nazareth, Jerusalem is definitely golden.

It shines in the religious artifacts that the souvenir shops of the Old City are full of - from menorahs to kiddush cups for sanctifying the Shabbat wine...

... to rosaries...

...and, well, just about anything made of the local olive wood.

It sparkles in the jewellery of Souk Al Khawajat, blingy enough to keep even Mr T happy for a while.

The colour is also reproduced by the dried fruit at the market stalls of Mahane Yehuda...

...and the intoxicating spice bazaars.

Gold is also the colour of challah, the bread which people queue at the bakeries on Friday afternoon, rushing back home to welcome Shabbat...

...though just about The Most Impressive Example of the golden nature of Jerusalem is this: a huge glimmering menorah situated in the Old City's Jewish Quarter; constructed after the one that used to be located in the Temple. 

Weight: 45 kilos. Material: Solid 24-carat gold. Value: estimated at millions of dollars.

And then there's the Dome of the Rock, glistening in the sun.

But for me it's that glow that descends on the Old City and illuminates her alleyways at night, after the city has already gone to sleep. That's the real magic.

* Blasting off my iPod right now: Ofra Haza: Yerushalayim shel Zahav




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