The port city of Jerusalem

(Artwork by Daphne Odjig)

Most countries that are not landlocked have their capitals on a coastline. Jerusalem is the rare exception, a capital city that does not flow into an ocean, river or sea. But in a poem created by Yehuda Amichai, Jerusalem is a port city, where the ebb and flow is prayer—the tide between heaven and earth. The flow is vertical, rather than horizontal.

I asked the Canadian literary journal, KI1N, if they could acquire permission to use a painting by Daphne Odjig, a First Nation Canadian artist, to illustrate my English translation of Amichai’s poem. I felt her silkscreen of Jaffa Gate brought to life the nautical spirit that Yehuda Amichai evoked in his poem. When I discovered her art, I learned that El Al had commissioned Odjig to paint Jerusalem from her perspective in 1976.

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Posted by Eva L. Weiss in Essays, Poems
Jerusalem Stone

Jerusalem Stone

God pulsed beneath my fingertips

I loved not His city, but His stones

Cool marble pressed against my forehead

The ancient past rose up to greet me

Silken stones against my cheek

My hands held the memory of a House

Remembered the stories, smelled the smoke,

Heard the baying horn, saw the teeming crowds

I stroked my child’s cheek tonight

He slept beneath my tears. In his skin

I felt the ancient stones once more

Posted by Adina Kopinsky in Poems
Jerusalem in my thoughts

Jerusalem in my thoughts

There is something special about touching old stone structures. I feel their textures and think of the ancient hands that shaped and placed them there. Walking around Jerusalem, where there are no shortage of building stones from bygone days, thoughts swirl and a little imagination turns my head to poetry.

“If I forget thee” was our motto,
For many years words of sorrow.
Now shining golden and full of life,
Jerusalem moments, pleasure and strife.
Her every sight, gladness and delight
Beautiful arches and stones declare her might.
The people’s joy and sighs reverberate,
A million reasons for which we celebrate.
Our beautiful city, may it never be split apart
It is our joy, our strength, our heart.

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Posted by Julie Puchaev in Poems
Meurav Yerushalmi

Meurav Yerushalmi

Meurav Yerushalmi.

What a perfect metaphor for

this city

perpetually spilling its guts

hearts, livers, spleens

only to be pushed around on

somebody else’s platform.


(Image by Peterjerusalem, via Wikimedia Commons.)

Posted by Rachel Stomel in Poems

Five more stars

“Hear O Israel, the Lord is One”
This they whispered, with the rising sun
And the words commanded, were in their hearts
When their silent prayer was torn apart
With a cry to Allah, G-d, by another name
But this with intent to murder and maim
And this house of learning, hope and prayer
Was filled with fear, death and despair
And as sadness descends, reopening scars
Tonight we will see five more stars.

As a nation we mourn for those we never knew
It is strange what you feel for a fellow Jew
Whose life was taken this chilly November
A date that now we will always remember
And our thoughts are now with them, their children and wife
How will they now celebrate life?
Was it written in stone that this was their fate?
To leave this world in bloodshed and hate?
And as we look to heaven, this autumn night
We will count five more stars, shining bright.

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Posted by Paul Mirbach in Poems
Touching the surface

Touching the surface

A crowd gathered in front of the kotel this morning

like a peaceful protest.

God hurled a canister of tear gas at them

but the weeping wailing women did not disperse.

I watched a woman with closed eyes

and open hands

brush her fingers over the ancient stone

as if God were braille

as if you could read him just by touching the surface

But we

had never meant to go blind

on purpose.

(Image by Ohayon Avi, via the Government Press Office.)
Posted by Rachel Stomel in Poems