Ruchama Ronen

Ronen had always loved to sing, and she sang to the wounded in the hospital to ease their pain

During the Six-Day War, Ruchama Ronen was eighteen years old, studying nursing at Bikur Holim Hospital and living in the school dormitory that was close to the Old City. Nothing she had learned in nursing school had prepared her for war, and the hospital suddenly became a military hospital at the front, with more and more wounded coming in. The nurses worked twelve hour shifts, and since there was no real bomb shelter in the hospital, they slept in their rooms under their beds in the faint hope that this would provide them some protection. At night, they heard the sounds of the explosions all around them and saw the light of the exploding bombs and shells and tried to cheer each other up. When a safer place in the hospital was found for them, they were relieved – until it was hit directly by a bomb shell.

Everyone in the hospital was glued to their transistor radios, listening to the news. These radios broadcast the voices announcing the conquest of the Temple Mount and the liberation of the Western Wall, and when the news came, everyone in the hospital was silent. Ronen and the others burst into tears of joy and relief, and they went out into the streets and found that everyone felt the same, people were crying tears of happiness over the exciting news. In the following days, still finding it difficult to believe, Ronen went to the Western Wall over and over again.

Ronen had always loved to sing, and she sang to the wounded in the hospital to ease their pain. A few days after the war, Naomi Shemer added a new verse to the song “Jerusalem of Gold,” and the complete song was published in the newspaper. That day, after her shift, Ruhama Ronen took the newspaper, went to the big hall where many of the wounded lay and began to sing the song with its new ending. One by one, wounded and hospital staff alike, were drawn to Ronen’s singing from all over the hospital. She sang from her heart, from the bottom of her soul, and all the listeners heard her emotions in her singing, and found in it an echo of their own feelings.