the street where i lived

It’s not an easy street to pronunciate, if you’re not familiar with it. It’s actually not easy to write in Hebrew, either, but I don’t know if it’s difficult in Russian, since I don’t speak the language.

When I was a student after college, learning in Brovender’s, what we referred to as “yeshivah”, although now the proper word is “seminary”, they didn’t have any proper dormitories, so they rented a few apartments all over Jerusalem for us girls. We were in a very nice place on Tchernichovsky Street. I actually know the number, 38. And I just looked via Google maps at it. It was probably much nicer at the time, although I’m sure I still couldn’t afford to buy it today.

My father handed me all kinds of letters that I had sent the family on my many adventures away from home, from summers at camp through early married years (plus one that I sent my mother for Mothers Day, when I was either 13 or 14, not sure.) Two large manila envelopes worth. I thought today I’d scan them.  So I know my address from looking at the letters.

I don’t think I’ll get to them today, not all of them.

But why am I stuck on Tchernichovsky?

Here.

Translation, briefly–this video was made to remember the the siege on Gush Etzion starting on May 12, 1948, resulting in the death of 133 kibbutz members, including 22 women, more than at any other battle in the War of Independence. Most were refugees from the Holocaust; many were the last in their families.

The song is one that I know and don’t know. I could have hummed it to you, but I really never knew the words, so I went hunting.

It’s by Tchernichovsky, the poet. Here’s what an article on HaAretz says about it.

“I Believe” is one of his very early poems, full of the hopes of a young, idealistic writer. In the first two stanzas, the vision is universal and humanistic. In the third, Tchernichovsky envisions liberty and social justice; in the fourth, fraternity; in the fifth universal peace; and in the sixth and seventh the Zionist future in “the land.” In the final stanza the poet – all of 22 years old when he wrote the poem – with some perspicacity imagines his lasting legacy.

And here are the words in English, also from HaAretz. They also provide a link to the Hebrew, and you can also hear multiple versions.

I Believe

Shaul Tchernichovsky

Rejoice, rejoice now in the dreams
I the dreamer am he who speaks
Rejoice, for I’ll have faith in mankind
For in mankind I believe.

For my soul still yearns for freedom
I’ve not sold it to a calf of gold
For I shall yet have faith in mankind
In its spirit great and bold

That will cast off binding chains
Raise us up, hold high our heads
Workers will not die of hunger
For souls – release, for poor folk – bread.

Rejoice for I have faith in friendship
I’ll find a heart – in this I’ve faith –
A heart that shares in all my hopes,
A heart that feels both joy and pain.

And I shall keep faith in the future,
Though the day be yet unseen
Surely it will come when nations
All live in blessed peace.

Then my people too will flourish
And a generation shall arise
In the land, shake off its chains
And see light in every eye.

It shall live, love, accomplish, labor
In the land it is alive
Not in the future, not in heaven –
And its spirit shall henceforth thrive.

A poet shall sing a new anthem,
His heart aware of beauty sublime
For him, that young man, above my tomb
Blossoms in a wreath shall twine.

Written in Odessa in 1892. Translated from Hebrew by Vivian Eden.

On the day when it’s already Yom HaAtzma’ut, Independence Day,  in Israel, but still Yom HaZikaron, Israeli Memorial Day, here in the west, we remember those who gave their lives so that Israel can be free.

And its spirit shall henceforth thrive.

יהי זכרם ברוך

May their memories be blessed.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “the street where i lived

  1. This video, in memory of the women who fell in defence of Gush Etzion, is particularly apt this year, when the “theme” for Yom Ha’Atzma’ut is the contribution of women to the building of Israel, and all the torch bearers at the ceremony at Mt. Herzl this evening were women.

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