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Friday, 23 March 2012

Stories Behind The Voices of Israel

 

The voices of Israel are the People of Israel – many fused in one.

This axiom was proven once more on Saturday evening last week  when northern representatives of the Voices Israel poetry society visited Karmiel to share their work and life experiences with members of  ESRA – the English Speaking Residents Association.

One was born a pre-state ‘Palestinian’; another’s family had been expelled from Nasser’s Egypt while a third had been saved on the Czech kindertransport by Sir Nicholas Winton, the ‘British Schindler’.

Most contributors had lived in Israel for many years but two had settled in Karmiel barely three months before.

Those reading their verses included a ‘Zelda’ from the USA. I mention her because her name recalls one of Israel’s most esteemed national poets and I wondered briefly how much  Zelda Schneersohn Mishkowsky - a descendant of the famous Lubavitch dynasty who lived almost entirely in  one tiny house in Jerusalem - would have shared with jolly American Zelda now in northern Israel. As women - and as Jewish poets – everything - of course!

All of which brings me to the following evening at the Karmiel Music Conservatoire where its students appeared  in concert on behalf of the Keren B’Yachad charity group.

The show, which  included  some truly remarkable performances both solo and in ensemble, climaxed with a magnificent piano recital. To reveal that one of the performers was in tears affirms the emotional attachment these gifted musicians of the future devote to their work.

According to its ‘Myspace’ page, the conservatoire is supervised and supported by the Ministry of Education and  was founded in its present form in 1979. It serves as a professional, social, and creative institution for about about 300 students and 36 teachers.

At the end of the ESRA recital I was given a moment to read a poem about  emigration. It is not the work of a Jewish poet, I explained after reading it, but that of a non-Jewish prize-winning writer who is also  a most empathetic friend of the Jewish community.

So I conclude here, first  with Gifts of Fruit For Travellers by Cathy Bryant of Manchester, England, U.K. and then with Everyone Has a Name by Zelda.       

Cathy.Bryant           

Gifts of Fruit for Travellers

(possibly quite appropriate for an emigré!)

My niece hands me some purpling plums
before the last awkward goodbye
as I set off with brothers, mums
to leave; to emigrate; to fly.
And as the plane parts shriek and grind
then settle to a steady hum
I don sunglasses, draw the blind
and so the first tears start to come.
But when I land I find swift peace
though somewhere alien - Other
- for there a girl, much like my niece
gives persimmons to her mother.

Zelda

Everyone Has a Name

(translated by Marcia Falk)

Everyone has a name
that God gives
and one’s father and mother give.

Everyone has a name
that stature and the curve of one’s smile give
and the weave of one’s clothing gives.

Everyone has a name
that the mountains give
and the walls of one’s city give.

Everyone has a name
that the stars give
and one’s neighbours give.

Everyone has a name
that one’s offences give
and one’s longing gives.

Everyone has a name
that enemies give
and love for others gives.

Everyone has a name
birthday celebrations give
and one’s work gives.

Everyone has a name
that the seasons of the year give
and our blindness gives.

Everyone has a name
that the sea gives
and
one’s death gives.

msniw

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