I see Jerusalem — Kids capture city in poetry and art

In the minds of many local children, Jerusalem is a city of beaming sun and splashes of bright color.

It is also a unique and somewhat mysterious city — at once scary, joyous and amazing.

During the last several months, children from religious schools and Jewish day schools throughout the Bay Area expressed these perceptions of Jerusalem through art and creative writing.

Their works, solicited by the S.F.-based Bureau of Jewish Education, will be on display Sunday, June 9 at a community Jerusalem 3000 celebration at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Gardens.

More than 250 works by students from kindergarten through 12th grade were submitted to the BJE. Though the majority of the submissions are art, some, such as Alicia Silverstein's poem "Farmer's Day," express feelings about the City of Gold through carefully chosen words. Writes Silverstein, a fourth-grade religious school student at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco:

I see Jerusalem, Old and new With oranges in the air. Green forests. Animals grazing in the pasture. Vast hot deserts. Trees growing slowly and quietly.

A number of children took the word "Jerusalem" and assigned nouns or adjectives to each of its letters to describe the city. Samantha White, a fifth-grade student at Emanu-El, for example, chose the following words to correspond with each letter: Jewish, ethics, religious, unique, synagogues, ancient, large, excellent, many people.

In the drawing that accompanied her writing, White used watercolors, crayons and felt pens to draw a golden dome and the walls of the Old City under purple and pink clouds and a red sun. Works by many of the other students are equally colorful, relying on construction paper, colored foil and clay to reconstruct the Western Wall or Yemin Moshe windmill and to create trees, flowers, Stars of David and Torahs.

A number of students use their creations to express the hope that the residents of the city will find peace and happiness. Peace signs and smiling faces appear in some.

In her drawing, third-grader Susanna Myrseth included a take on a biblical passage calling for an end to war. "You shall beat your swords into plowshares and your spears into pruning hooks and never make war," writes Myrseth, a student at Or Shalom Jewish Community in San Francisco.

Above those words, Myrseth draws a circle, inside of which she places stick figures surrounded by hearts. Above the circle is the headline "Jews and Palestinians." Another circle, filled with stick figures aiming weapons at one another, has a red slash drawn through it.

Mieke Vander Borght, an eighth-grader at Or Shalom, presents a similar message that war must be overcome:

Dove flutters her wings.and falters in struggling flight Jerusalem lives.