>  Places to visit in Northern Israel   >  Kinneret Cemetery

kinneret-cemetery-naomi-shemerSet in a tranquil shaded hillside by the Sea of Galilee, the cemetery of Kinneret Farm is the resting place of some of the leading figures in the Zionist movement.

Yet, most Israelis visiting the cemetery gather around the tombs of ‘Rachel’ (Rachel Bluwstein; 1890-1931), and Naomi Shemer (1930-2004). These two gifted women, who both lived in the Kinneret, contributed so much to Israeli song and music culture. “Sham Harei Golan”, “Jerusalem of Gold”, and many more of their creations are classics, known to every Israeli.

Perhaps
Perhaps it was never so.
Perhaps
I never woke early and went to the fields
To labor in the sweat of my brow Nor in the long blazing days
Of harvest
On top of the wagon laden with sheaves,
Made my voice ring with song Nor bathed myself clean in the calm
Blue water
Of my Kinneret. O, my Kinneret,
Were you there or did I only dream? 

 

Rachel, 1927

Jerusalem of Gold

 

The mountain air is clear as wine
And the scent of pines
Is carried on the breeze of twilight
With the sound of bells.

And in the slumber of tree and stone
Captured in her dream
The city that sits solitary
And in its midst is a wall.

Chorus:
Jerusalem of gold
And of copper, and of light
Behold I am a violin for all your songs.

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How the cisterns have dried
The market-place is empty
And no one frequents the Temple Mount
In the Old City.

And in the caves in the mountain
Winds are howling
And no one descends to the Dead Sea
By way of Jericho.

Chorus:

But as I come to sing to you today,
And to adorn crowns to you (i.e. to tell your praise)
I am the smallest of the youngest of your children (i.e. the least worthy of doing so)
And of the last poet (i.e. of all the poets born).

For your name scorches the lips
Like the kiss of a seraph
If I forget thee, Jerusalem,
Which is all gold…

Chorus:

We have returned to the cisterns
To the market and to the market-place
A ram’s horn calls out on the Temple Mount
In the Old City.

And in the caves in the mountain
Thousands of suns shine –
We will once again descend to the Dead Sea
By way of Jericho!

Naomi Shemer, 1967

A visit to Kinneret Cemetery can be combined with a guided day tour of the Galilee.

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