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The Old Synagogue


[Page 67]

A Fire

by Avraham Farber

Translated by Mira Eckhaus

The old prayer house
goes up in flames, hit by plumes of smoke,
shooting angry sparks.

The glory of the ancients.  A bright tradition of grace
fading slowly.
In the tangle of a fire full of smoke,

The fire eats everything, cuts the boards,
the engravings falling,
gloomy, black-faced.

An ancient house of prayer, full of moans of contemplation,
you have come to your end,
the vision of redemption was closed.

Because your focus is our focus, we, the burnt ones,
wonder here about the land.
Beaten and embarrassed.

Call the institutions of heaven, ask for our justice,
light our way,
a robbed house of prayer.

I will swim with spread out palms, in front of your ruins I will be speechless,
I will sit sad on the ground
saying lamentations.

We don't have the strength to fight, we don't have the dagger,
only He, the One sitting in heaven,
He will avenge you – the Almighty.

An old prayer house
passing by like a dream
in flames.

(The author was born in Tel Aviv in 1937. He wrote the poem in 1960. As a child, he had
heard stories in his parents' home about the town of Olkeniki and the old synagogue.)


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