POEMS READ IN CELEBRATION OF YOM HAZTMA'UT 2008,
ISRAEL'S 6Oth ANNIVERSARY

THE PARATROOPERS ARE CRYING
Haim Hefer

This Kotel has heard many prayers
This Kotel has seen many walls fall
This Kotel has felt wailing women's hands and notes pressed between its stones
This Kotel has seen Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi trampled in front of it
This Kotel has seen Caesars rising and falling
But this Kotel has never before seen paratroopers cry.

This Kotel has seen them tired and exhausted
This Kotel has seen them wounded and scratched-up
Running towards it with beating hearts, with cries and with silence
Pouncing out like predators from the alleyways of the Old City
And they're dust-covered and dry-lipped
And they're whispering: if I forget you, if I forget you, O Jerusalem
And they are lighter than eagles and more tenacious then lions
And their tanks are the fiery chariot of Elijah the Prophet
And they pass like lightning
And they pass in fury
And they remember the thousands of terrible years in which we didn't even have a Kotel in front of which we could cry.

And here they are standing in front of it and breathing deeply
And here they are looking at it with the sweet pain
And the tears fall and they look awkwardly at each other
How is it that paratroopers cry?
How is it that they touch the wall with feeling?
How is it that from crying they move to singing?

Maybe it's because these 19-year-olds were born with the birth of Israel

Carrying on their backs - 2000 years.

GOD HAS PITY ON KINDERGARTEN CHILDREN1
Yehuda Amichai

God has pity on kindergarten children,
He pities school children — less.
But adults he pities not at all.

He abandons them,
And sometimes they have to crawl on all fours
In the scorching sand
To reach the dressing station,
Streaming with blood.

But perhaps
He will have pity on those who love truly
And take care of them
And shade them
Like a tree over the sleeper on the public bench,

Perhaps even we will spend on them
Our last pennies of kindness
Inherited from mother

So that their own happiness will protect us
Now and on other days.

WILDPEACE2
Yehuda Amichai

Not the peace of a cease-fire
not even the vision of the wolf and the lamb,
but rather
as in the heart when the excitement is over
and you can talk only about a great weariness.
I know that I know how to kill, that makes me an adult.
And my son plays with a toy gun that knows
how to open and close its eyes and say Mama.
A peace
without the big noise of beating swords into ploughshares,
without words, without
the thud of the heavy rubber stamp: let it be
light, floating, like lazy white foam.
A little rest for the wounds - who speaks of healing?
(And the howl of the orphans is passed from one generation
to the next, as in a relay race:
the baton never falls.)

Let it come
like wildflowers,
suddenly, because the field
must have it: wildpeace.

Translated by Chana Bloch

PRAYER
Shlomit Grossberg, Age 13, Jerusalem

What shall I ask You for. God?
I have everything.
There's nothing I lack.
I ask only for one thing
And not for myself alone;
It's for many mothers, and.children, and fathers —
Not just in this land, but in many lands hostile to each other
I'd like to ask for Peace
Yes, it's Peace I want,
And You, You won't deny the single wish of a girl.
You created the Land of Peace,
Where stands the City of Peace,
Where stood the Temple of Peace,
But where still there Is no Peace

What shall I ask You for; God? I have everything.
Peace is what I ask for
Only peace


1Incorporated by Yitzhak Rabin in his 1994 Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech
2Read by the author at the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony

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