Haim Gouri’s Piyyut for Rosh Hashanah

Haim Gouri poses for a portrait at his home in Jerusalem. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Born in Tel Aviv in 1923, Haim Gouri is a poet, novelist, documentary film maker, journalist, and the author of a book on the Jerusalem trial of Adolf Eichmann.

During World War II, Gouri joined the elite strike force of¬†the Haganah, the¬†Jewish paramilitary force operating during Mandate Palestine, called the ‘Palmach.’ He was sent¬†to Hungary to help holocaust survivors come to Palestine. This experience inspired Gouri‚Äôs documentary film The 81st Blow, which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1974.

Gouri’s¬†first book of poetry, published in 1949, is heavily influenced by his experience in the Palmach during the war of 1948. His later books become more abstract.

Today Marcela Sulak¬†reads from his poems ‘Current Account’ and ‘Piyyut for Rosh Hashanah,’ which both deal with themes of justice and repentance at Jewish new year.

Here are the final lines from ‘Current Account’: “And again, as always in the Land of Israel, /¬†the stones remember. /¬†The earth does not cover. /¬†Justice cuts through the mountains.”

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Text:

Modern Hebrew Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology. Ed. and trans. Ruth Finer Mintz. University of California Press, 1966.

The Stones Remember: Native Israeli Poetry. Eds. Moshe Dror, Barbara Goldberg & Giora Leshem. The Word Works, 1991.

 

Music:

Palmach Songs

Song for Tishrei – sung by Chava Alberstein, words by Rachel Shapiro, and music by Danny Amihud

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