Traveling in Psalms with Yonatan Berg

On today’s episode, host Marcela Sulak reads the work of Yonatan Berg. He is youngest recipient ever to win the Yehuda Amichai Poetry Prize, and his work has only begun to be published in Joanna Chen’s English translation. As Chen points out, Yonatan Berg’s poetry strides the lines that divide this country in so many ways, with honesty and compassion.

“On Sabbath afternoon the air is quiet.
We stroll towards the Sephardi synagogue, the hills
filled with afternoon and beyond, the Dead Sea
shimmers, burning with salt, thick with death.
Rabbi Avi Sasson stands before us,
his voice filling the curves of the stone
with psalms. We sit down. Summer switches off
and we give ourselves to the same cave
where praises cover the decay
of our lives – our parents arguing, journeys through Ramallah,
the idea that around us hangs
a permanent, burning growl of injustice:
the shifting of Israel and Palestine’s tectonic plates.”

Yonatan Berg was born in 1981 in Jerusalem to a religious family and grew up in Psagot, a settlement in the West Bank. He served in the Israeli Defense Force and was engaged in the active combat that many of his poems witness.

“After a Night in the Alley of Worshipers” & “Unity,” translated by Joanna Chen, in Lunch Ticket
“The Mothers,” translated by Joanna Chen, in Contemporary Works in Translation. Oomph Press

הניגון של הרב שמואל בצלאל אלטהויז
Shlomo Carlebach – The Krakow Nigun
Shlomo Carlebach – Eso Einai 

Producer: Ariella Plachta
Technical producer: Tammy Goldenberg

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