Jerusalem of Gold, of Pain, Fear and Hope.

Jerusalem of Gold, by Naomi Shemer/

Jerusalem of Pain, Fear and Hope by Rabbi Sharon L Sobel

The mountain air is clear as wine

The city air is thick as smoke

And the scent of pines

And the scent of blood and terror

Is carried on the breeze of twilight

Is carried on the lips of those at dawn

With the sound of the bells.

With the wails of the sirens and the cries of the innocent.

And in the slumber of tree and stone

No tree can slumber, no stone remain silent while the river of blood spills forth on the ground.

Captured in her dream

She remains captured – but no longer in a dream. She is captured in a cycle of violence with no end in sight.

The city that sits solitary

Because the world remains silent: is not Jewish blood red? Is not Druze blood red? 

And in its midst is a wall.

A wall of hatred, a wall of suffering, a wall of injustice, a wall of violence, a wall of terror.

And yet..we are a people of hope. Jerusalem means “Iyr shel Shalom – City of Peace”. So hope must prevail.

Jerusalem of gold, and of bronze, and of light.

Behold I am a violin for all your songs.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, may those who love you be at peace. May there be well-being within your ramparts, peace in your citadels. (Psalm 122:6-7)

A Prayer for Peace

As we watch the escalation of events unfold in Israel and Gaza this week, we pray for an end to the barrage of missile attacks on Israel, an end to the violence on both sides.

We pray for a time of peace and harmony. When neighbours do not hate, do not kill, do not treat each other as “less than”.

We pray for a time when Jerusalem can live up to the meaning of its name: City of Peace – Iyr Shalom.

The notion of “Jerusalem” is a metaphor. In our tradition, we have a concept of two Jerusalems: Y’rushalayim shel lamala – the heavenly Jerusalem, and Y’rushalayim shel lamata – the earthly Jerusalem.

The heavenly Jerusalem is the ideal to which we aspire. The earthly Jerusalem is the daily reality of our lives as they exist now.

Thus “Jerusalem” is more of a concept rather than simply a city – it represents a time when all the inhabitants of Israel will live together in peace, when justice will prevail and all will be in harmony. “Jerusalem” is our ideal version of what life should be.

As the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 122:2-4; 6-9

“Our feet our standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.

The built-up Jerusalem is like a city that was joined together within itself.

There ascended the tribes, the tribes of God, testimony to Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Eternal…

Request the welfare of Jerusalem; may those who love you enjoy tranquility.

May there peace in your walls, tranquility in your palaces.

For the sake of my brothers and my companions, I shall now speak of peace in you.

For the sake of the House of the Eternal our God, I shall beg for goodness for you.”

May the peace of Shabbat bring peace to all: in Jerusalem, Israel and all the world. Amen.