Sunday, January 31, 2010

Brother-sister reunion

The mystery of siblings, raised by the same parents, who are different yet the same fascinates me. I observe my own grandchildren, raised by my son and daughter in law here in Jerusalem, and wonder at how different each is, although they share the same way of life and values.

The variations between myself and my brother, ten years my senior, may be easier to understand. His formative years were during the Depression when my parents were new Americans not long arrived from Palestine, having previously escaped from the turmoil of Eastern Europe before the Nazis initiated their crusade against the Jewish people and the world. Wandering Jews. I was raised in a home spiritually rich and economically struggling, but the refrigerator was always full.

After the First World War, my mother and father joined my gentle and kind grandfather in Brooklyn, a Grand Rabbi of Hassidim [I will explain this term in future entries] who had escaped Petlyura's gangs rampaging pogroms in the Ukraine during the Communist uprisings. My brother was privileged to know him well. My memories of our "zeida" are dimmer.

Born into the first elevator house in the Bronx, as soon as I knew myself my dream was to share in the adventure of the new Jewish State of Israel. The return of my people to our ancestral home. As a child, I sensed that the centuries of not belonging, of wandering and suffering had happened to me personally.

So I have built my life in Israel as my brother has in the United States. Two weeks ago I returned home to Israel from a long awaited visit with him and his family in Miami, and will share with you the thoughts that will arise in me as I digest this adventure.

Still the same but different, my handsome and funny brother and his family are the taste to me of our long departed parents.

And best of all, I gained a new friendship with a neice who also offered me an additional gift.

This blog for me to write my thoughts and poems to you.
So long and Lehit'

Thursday, January 28, 2010

To Jerusalem - Opal

OPAL: Song to Jerusalem by Shira Twersky-Cassel

They call you Gold
I name you Opal,

I sing of tattered shadow and light
which consummates on nights of haloed moon,

I speak of ebony blackbird and swift
that come to roost like jewels set in opal stone.

And we shall gather tremors in sanctuary ruins
your crystal eyes to weep no more.

And once again the loyal caper-tree
will climb your Templed-Mount,

© sole copywrite
Shira Twersky-Cassel

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Blackbird of Israel - Inspiration for my poetry

ABOUT MY LOGO: Blackbird emerging from an inkwell

The blackbird - shachrur in Hebrew - was my first bird-love in Israel. Blackbird is the title of my first book of Hebrew poetry which won the prestigious Haim Hazaz poetry prize.

Although the local nightingale is the thrush identified with the Land of Israel in the Bible, within Israel's current borders we rarely enjoy a visit from the multi-songed nightingale whose habitat today is in TransJordan among the rushes of the Jordan river. So the blackbird our chief thrush.

It is with excitement that I await the season of the blackbird's unique song, which begins in the Hebrew month of Shvat - December-January for everybody else "out there." Shvat is the month of my own birthday so I feel personally serenaded when my courtyard jet black beauty with golden beak and throat begins his seasonal mating song from within the branches of the Jerusalem pine in my yard.

When the Beatles sang, "Blackbird singing in the dead of night," they approximated the truth. The blackbird begins his song in darkess one hour before sunrise, thus playing Orpheaus.

The source of the bird's name, shachrur in Hebrew, is "shachar", - sunrise - and "shachor" means black. Typically, in the Hebrew language, one word carries many meanings. This is reflected the writings of the Bible and the centuries of rich Jewish scholarship when Hebrew was a language of prayer and learning and was not spoken every day.

The rebirth of the Hebrew tongue is one of the miracles of modern Israel. I longed to write poetry in Hebrew in order to tap into the rich history of my people.

After publishing three volumes of Hebrew poetry, I enjoy writing again in English and have begun translating many of my Hebrew poems.

I hope to print some of these poems on my new site.

And as we say in Hebrew, Lehitraot, see you soon.

or in short