Appendix 2: Poems

Written in the same Yiddish handwriting and translated

Sand and Stars

 

The moon is shining and the stars are scintillating

The night clothes the mountains and valleys

The old little book

Is lying open before me

I read and read

 I read it a thousand times

I read the clear holy words

I swear I can hear a voice

My people – you shall be like the stars in heaven

As the sand at the edge of the sea

 

 

Prayer

 

Lord of the Universe – nothing gets lost

Not a simple word of your promise

Your  Holy wish must be fulfilled.

Everything comes in its proper time and place

One thing has already materialised

I feel it, I know it for sure

We  have become as sand, free for all

E very body is trampling it underfoot –

Yes God, it is true –

We are spread out like sand and like stars

And dispersed – to be humiliated and laughed at.

The stars are clearly alight

 The stars, where are they God?

 

RETURN TO ZION

Stanza 1

 

What do I see through the window?

They fly like doves!

My Joseph and my Benjamin

Are knocking at my door.

Oh God, this is wonderful,

I see again my children,

My dearest and most precious are returning to me,

Many years have passed

I thought I was lost

A deserted widow, alone at her table

How did you get on?

Since you were captured?

How is Yehuda and Ephraim?

Give me a greeting.

Don't complain to God.

It is all a divine wonder.

The darkness grows deeper before dawn.

At the first sign of redemption

It was a worthwhile achievement

The burden becomes heavier as Moses is complaining,

If God is harsh it is to our benefit

 

Stanza 2

 

Nobody is forcing to build your centre

The prophets would not chase you.

If you want to remain in your Bund and Nationalists –

You can surely remain there.

Our enemies are laughing.

How does it look? if a few little Jews are treading in my fall

Can they be trusted:

Are they going to build, my new dwelling as it was once.

No, you must compare it to the big rivers –

Which start as a tiny stream,

From a small source.

All the streams come together,

Until its name becomes great.

And her masts and boughs are shining –

All those years are returning. I’m young again.

I discard my sadness,

I dress again in my silken garments –

As they are worthy of my house.

 

Stanza 3

 

My heart is uplifted

My children are returning in happiness

I cry with joy.

Let me kiss you

My bones are calling out,

You, the guests of my heart,

You will receive from me all the pleasures

You won’t have to eat at foreign tables

You will board with your mother

These few people the world will bless

They have left their homes and property

As well educated people, highly civilised

Are prepared to sacrifice themselves for all Israel

They are determined to survive all hardships and difficulties

 To clean away all the stones

 On the road of our great troubles

As in the days of Moses

 And their name remains as Ezra’s in the last days

© Kaplan Centre
Letters courtesy of Phil Kretzmar