This evening I had the problematic pleasure to hear a really nice concert.
Yerushalayim Shel Zahav [Jerusalem of Gold]. Just a couple of years after living in Jerusalem I was part of a group that ran a Jewish educational program for teenagers where music played an important part of what we did. Songs like Yerushalayim Shel Zahav were at the heart of our groups' sense of who, as American Jews, we were and what we were connected to. Both the words ["Jerusalem of Gold, of bronze and of light"] and the underlying message [the rebirth of our Jewish homeland, the center of our religious identity] were inspiring, comforting and a sign of God's love and eternal commitment to us. For me personally it evoked the many hours I spent soaking up the grandeur of the Old City from the outside and the enormous sense of comforting spirituality I felt when meandering through the maze of narrow streets inside. I can remember, even decades later, passing the reassuring mixed salad of people: Orthodox Christians in their long black robes and high hats, Orthodox Jews and Hasidim in their black suits and hats and a variety of Arab types in the homes and shops that were packed into to such a physically limiting space. I remember the feeling of comfort I derived from all of these disparate peoples sharing this palpably holy place. A place I thought of as Ir Shalom, the City of Peace.
"Jerusalem Jerusalem." The double title reflects his sense of a city that is the most fully holy place on earth [shalom comes from a root meaning "whole-ness"] and, simultaneously the place that has engendered some of the disharmony between peoples.
Strange how symbols change over the years.