If I forget you, O Jerusalem/Shabbat Shalom (3)

If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither; let my tongue stick to my palate if I cease to think of you, if I do not keep Jerusalem in memory even at my happiest hour. (Psalms 139: 5-6)

If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem

If I forget thee, Jerusalem,

Then let my right be forgotten.                                                                                                                                                                                        Let my right be forgotten, and my left remember.                                                                                                                                                    Let my left remember, and your right close                                                                                                                                                                And your mouth open near the gate.

I shall remember Jerusalem                                                                                                                                                                                         And forget the forest — my love will remember,                                                                                                                                                       Will open her hair, will close my window,                                                                                                                                                              Will forget my right,                                                                                                                                                                                                      Will forget my left.

If the west wind does not come                                                                                                                                                                                     I’ll never forgive the walls,                                                                                                                                                                                             Or the sea, or myself.                                                                                                                                                                                                 Should my right forget,                                                                                                                                                                                                    My left shall forgive,                                                                                                                                                                                                            I shall forget all water,                                                                                                                                                                                                         I shall forget my mother.

If I forget thee, Jerusalem,                                                                                                                                                                                               Let my blood be forgotten.                                                                                                                                                                                                   I shall touch your forehead,                                                                                                                                                                                       Forget my own,                                                                                                                                                                                                                 My voice change                                                                                                                                                                                                                For the second and last time                                                                                                                                                                                            To the most terrible of voices —                                                                                                                                                                                      Or silence.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   (Yehuda Amichai, Poems of Jerusalem)


Chaim and I walked a new way to the Mahane Yehuda market/shuk this morning. We came upon the following memorial to the great Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai: “Jerusalem is a port city on the shore of eternity.” Like the poem I inserted above, that line comes from a poem in his book Poems of Jerusalem, which is one of only a few books that I ultimately packed when we came to Jerusalem.

I’ve been called to poetry on this trip. I already spoke about the T. Carmi book of poetry I bought, and the other day I picked up another book of poetry by Yaakov Avitzuk, unknown to me until now, but the poetry (from what I’ve been able to translate so far) is about kibbutz life in a very spiritual, prayerful way.

I haven’t read any fiction except for one short story from The New Yorker. This is quite rare for me, since I usually read several books a week when on vacation. I have been reading the articles that Chaim clips for me. But this trip feels too short to spend my time in a book. I want to be out there experiencing.

Things are heating up here for the election on Tuesday. A lot of electioneering is going on outside on the streets. Today is the last day that polls can be performed, and the news today is looking a little better for Meretz, the left-leaning party that we would favor. Chaim realizes that had he brought his Israeli identity card, he would have been able to vote in this election. Alas, he did not think to do so and is kicking himself.

On our way back from the shuk, Chaim saw a group of Meretz folks across the street, so while I went to pick up a few more things in the supermarket, he went across the street to speak with them. He met Rabbi Ehud Bandel, former president of the Conservative movement in Israel, who is listed as #13 on the Meretz slate. It’s very unlikely that Meretz will get enough votes for #13 to get into the Knesset, but Chaim was glad to see that a liberal religious Jew was actively part of Meretz, since it’s been known as a secular party. In fact, the lines shouldn’t be so firmly drawn between religious and secular. If you would like to understand how the election system in Israel works, I got a great link that will help. Go to http://www.isrealli.org/the-nuts-and-bolts-of-israels-upcoming-election/

I very much wanted to get a picture in Mahane Yehuda today, but it was SO crowded, it was impossible to stop anywhere without being jostled along in the sea of shoppers. Therefore I am posting a photo from our visit yesterday to the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv. Imagine this scene with about 50 people crowded into the spot where those two men are standing (and about 200 in the space between them and the people you see further in front of them), and you’ll have a sense of Mahane Yehuda on a Friday before Shabbat.
Yes, I still have more than a week left of this trip, but I am getting really sad about leaving next Saturday night. I asked Chaim if he saw us coming again in the near future, and he said yes, but that we should stay in another city. “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,” I wanted to say to him. How could that be? “Well, what if we stayed in Jerusalem for a week of it, at least?” I asked. Should my right forget, my left shall forgive… 
Maybe I can get bargain him up to 4 weeks in Jerusalem. Bargaining is the Middle Eastern way…
Shabbat shalom.
7 Shevat/January 18, 2013

2 thoughts on “If I forget you, O Jerusalem/Shabbat Shalom (3)

  1. Oh, Pam-e-la! (like Oh Canada anthem starts!} I can’t help wonder what next year will bring for us, possible the Armets (Helene reads ur blog daily), and others who are being influenced, captivated, and mesmerized by your posts. I, we, do so very much want to go; now more than ever. Hope ….. can’t imagine not …. you will share on your return, and put together a presentation that also attempts to put together a trip. More on that after you “return” to Billsville! Shalom, David and Joey

  2. Sounds like you and Chaim would make wonderful guides through Israel. Please give some thought to it. I think Lisa and would consider the possibility.

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