Today is September 19, 2017 -

Congregation Sha'arey Israel

A Conservative Jewish Congregation serving the spiritual needs of the Middle Georgia Jewish community since 1904

611 First Street, Macon, GA 31201
Phone: (478) 745-4571
Email: sect@csi.mgacoxmail.com

Between Yom Hashoah and Israeli Independence Day

The Amen Stone

BY YEHUDA AMICHAI

TRANSLATED BY CHANA BLOCH

 

On my desk there is a stone with the word “Amen” on it,

a triangular fragment of stone from a Jewish graveyard destroyed

many generations ago. The other fragments, hundreds upon hundreds,

were scattered helter-skelter, and a great yearning,

a longing without end, fills them all:

first name in search of family name, date of death seeks

dead man’s birthplace, son’s name wishes to locate

name of father, date of birth seeks reunion with soul

that wishes to rest in peace. And until they have found

one another, they will not find a perfect rest.

Only this stone lies calmly on my desk and says “Amen.”

But now the fragments are gathered up in lovingkindness

by a sad good man. He cleanses them of every blemish,

photographs them one by one, arranges them on the floor

in the great hall, makes each gravestone whole again,

one again: fragment to fragment,

like the resurrection of the dead, a mosaic,

a jigsaw puzzle. Child’s play.

 

I want to offer this sacred text as a prophetic accompaniment for this Shabbat between Yom Hashoah יום השואה, Yom Hazikaron יום הזכרון (Israel’s Memorial Day), and Yom Haatzma’ut יום העצמאות (Israeli Independence Day). These holy days are soaked in memory. And there is a sense of desolation — the helter-skelter tombstones could easily be the Valley of the Dry Bones.

 

Amichai’s sad good man is Ezekiel’s Son of Man בן אדם. The pieces — fragments of words, markers of human bonds, markers of time — yearn to join each other. In place of the other-worldly joining of sinew, bone and flesh, the fragmented House of Eternity is mended one modest human gesture at a time. Desolation slowly yields to love and to hope. Amen. אמן May it be so.

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