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/