Yom HaZikaron

I would not redo high school for a billion dollars. I’m pretty sure the damage done by my four years in Orthodox day school will follow me for the rest of my life. However, I will begrudgingly grant that there are a few things these schools do well, and one of them is assemblies. We didn’t have them all that often, and when we did they were highly effective, especially the ones related to Israel, because so many of us had already or were shortly going to be spending a lot of time in Israel. I always cried during the Israeli Memorial Day Assembly, and usually it was during or immediately after the reading of these two poems:silver_platter.jpgThe Silver Platter
by Nathan Alterman
Translated from the Hebrew by David P. Stern

…And the land will grow still
Crimson skies dimming, misting
Slowly paling again
Over smoking frontiers

As the nation stands up
Torn at heart but existing
To receive its first wonder
In two thousand years

As the moment draws near
It will rise, darkness facing
Stand straight in the moonlight
In terror and joy

…When across from it step out
Towards it slowly pacing
In plain sight of all
A young girl and a boy

Dressed in battle gear, dirty
Shoes heavy with grime
On the path they will climb up
While their lips remain sealed

To change garb, to wipe brow
They have not yet found time
Still bone weary from days
And from nights in the field

Full of endless fatigue
And all drained of emotion
Yet the dew of their youth
Is still seen on their head

Thus like statues they stand
Stiff and still with no motion
And no sign that will show
If they live or are dead

Then a nation in tears
And amazed at this matter
Will ask: who are you?
And the two will then say

With soft voice: We–
Are the silver platter
On which the Jews’ state
Was presented today

Then they fall back in darkness
As the dazed nation looks
And the rest can be found
In the history books.   


Blessed Is the Match
By Hannah Szenes

Blessed is the match, consumed in kindling flame.
Blessed is the flame that burns in the heart’s secret places.
Blessed is the heart that knows, for honor’s sake, to stop its beating.
Blessed is the match, consumed in kindling flame.

Oy. Pass the tissues.

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