David Herman
David Herman

‘Jerusalem Rock’: The rock song about Jerusalem

Everybody knows Naomi Shemer’s beautiful song tribute to Jerusalem Yerushalayim Shel Zahav “Jerusalem of Gold” and its historic association with the Six Day War and the Reunification of Jerusalem in 1967 when sung so beautifully by Shuli Nathan. It has gone on since then to become perhaps the most popular Hebrew song anthem rivalling Hatikva, the official anthem of the State of Israel.

What is not so generally well-known however is that there exists another song tribute to Jerusalem which may one day rival the popularity of Yerushalaim Shel Zahav, and, what’s more, it is in English as well as being the only rock-soul song ever written in honor of Jerusalem.

I am referring to the song called “Jerusalem Rock” written and sung by the little-known and self-effacing London-born, Cambridge-educated, singer-songwriter David Ben Reuven who made Aliya in 1966 and settled in Jerusalem where he has remained to this day. In the intervening years, Ben Reuven has written no fewer than 250 songs, in Hebrew, English, French, Spanish and Ladino, many of which are on Youtube, and yet he remains largely unknown to the general public and totally ignored by Israel radio. In fact, they constitute a veritable treasury of potential hit songs.

Jerusalem Rock is also the theme song of Ben Reuven’s one-man show tribute to Jerusalem called “Sing Jerusalem 3000” which contains no fewer than 15 memorably impressive songs about Jerusalem in all its glory and variety. A CD of the show is also available.

Jerusalem Rock is a song with a powerful message that reaches out to lovers of Jerusalem of all faiths and hues and inspires them to sing and dance for Jerusalem. This song can also be a powerful force for  Aliya for Jews throughout the Diaspora by awakening their spirits to the magical calls of Jerusalem and Israel. This is something the Jewish Agency might well bear in mind.

And here now is the link to hear Ben Reuven’s rendition:

This year, in addition to Jerusalem Rock, Ben Reuven is also planning to record his unique song tribute to Naomi Shemer z”l called “Naomi Shel Zahav”, inspired by the original song and melody with a Hebrew lyric that strikingly evokes all that she achieved so magnificently and inspiringly in her lifetime. And he hopes that it will be ready in good time for the June 26 anniversary of her passing.

And here now is a concise English translation of the original Hebrew lyric of Ben Reuven’s “Naomi Shel Zahav”.

Everyone sings your songs, sweet as wine, from the Kinneret to Jerusalem they resound. We grew up with your songs, within us they play, so many of your songs we have learned, each one a wonder.

Naomi of Gold, of nature, land and light, on the wings of your songs, we shall journey from generation to generation.

The Land of Israel you have revealed to us, in all its great beauty, a land of landscape, tree and nature, flowing with milk and honey. All the festivals of our nation, as well as all it wishes for. Your songs we shall sing forever, for they are an eternal asset.

Now you reside in Heaven above, among all the poets, and for sure up in Heaven, they are all singing your songs. Because your songs and your lyrics within our veins they flow, all of your life’s works, like the blood in our veins.

There in the Kvutzat Kinneret, opposite the Golan Heights, next to Rachel Hameshoreret, beyond the reach of  pain and time. Four songs they sang for you, beside your fresh grave, in honor of Naomi Shemer, the Queen of Hebrew song.

About the Author
London-born David Herman came on aliyah in 1966 after graduating from Cambridge University. In the 1960s, he founded the Good Times Publishing Company specializing in publishing newspapers in simplified English, French and Arabic for the Israeli school system. David currenty works as a translator, and is also very active in the field of songwriting and performing under the musical name, David Ben Reuven.
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