web analytics
April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Title: Explaining Life: The Wisdom of Modern Jewish Poetry, 1960-2010


book-explaining-life

Share Button

Title: Explaining Life: The Wisdom of Modern Jewish Poetry, 1960-2010
Author: Eleanor Ehrenkranz
Reviewed by E. Mangel

The poems in this collection, Explaining Life: The Wisdom of Modern Jewish Poetry, 1960-2010 – some written originally in Yiddish and Hebrew – do “pierce the heart,” and educate it as well. These are poems about major issues in daily life – love, loss, alienation, family relationships, the after-effects of war, death and renewal – which help us reflect on how we are living and suggest possible ways to cope with and to improve our lives.

Facing difficult situations directly by pinpointing scenes from life is a poet’s job. And it is a cathartic experience for the reader. A mother’s suffering when her son goes off to one of the many wars in Israel, does “encapsulate the agony of the Middle East” in Dina Yehuda’s Soldier Son:

now twenty one, you aim at unseen enemies as rocket propelled grenades smash through windows
in abandoned houses in villages whose names
I can’t pronounce.
God’s voice shatters the cedars of Lebanon
your voice shatters my heart.

And sometimes loss is depicted in a more whimsical way, as in Branch Library by Edward Hirsch:

I wish I could find that skinny, long-beaked boywho perched in the branches of the old branch library.
I’d give anything to find that birdy boy again
bursting out into the dusky blue afternoon
with his satchel of scrawls and scribbles,
radiating heat, singing with joy.

The loss of carefree childhood is eloquently depicted here, with a sun-filled picture of a bookish young boy.

The section on love is comprised of a variety of expressions. The beginning of courtship is illustrated by Ruth Whitman in the poem Your Call as she writes about a girl waiting a long time for a phone call that finally comes:

When your voice – like fire from a star –Burst through the kitchen telephone
And I saw light, sunlight on the branches
As I took you in.

Each section of this book gives us poems which may either help us recollect tiny incidents from our lives, or portray possible vignettes. In the Renewal section, Yehoshua November does both. In his Partners in Creation he claims that God creates the world, again and again, in different ways:

the way a child’s world is renewedwhen he comes home from school
and his father and mother
still live in the same house,
and he hears them talking at the kitchen table.

And in his In the Unseeable World, he creates a possible, mystical connection between God and man when he depicts a passerby watching a man praying inside a shul. The man stretches his arms heavenward and “Hashem’s/long arms reach through the eternal/water and the firmament/and His hands cleave/ to the hands of the man who is praying,” but the man passing by just says, “Oh, why does he waste his energy, what does he hope to touch?” The believer achieves his goal but the nonbeliever sees and receives nothing, is the message.

Further enlightenment comes from Jacob Glatstein’s Praying the Sunset Prayer in which Glatstein teaches the importance of the third and last prayer of the day that Orthodox Jewish men say at evening time:

The day is departing with a quiet kiss.It lies open at your feet
while you stand saying the blessings.
how you age with the days
that keep dawning,
how you bring your lived-out day
as a gift to eternity.

Many poems in this book deal with mother-daughter and mother-son relationships, some sad, some humorous. Other poems relate father-son, father-daughter relationships which are tender.

The book has something for everyone to feel and to respond to.

Share Button

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Title: Explaining Life: The Wisdom of Modern Jewish Poetry, 1960-2010”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
FBI Wanted poster for Osama bin Laden
Pakistan Library Renamed to Honor bin Laden
Latest Sections Stories
Schonfeld-logo1

Regardless of age, parents play an important role in their children’s lives.

Marriage-Relationship-logo

We peel away one layer after the next, our eyes tear up and it becomes harder and harder to see as we get closer to our innermost insecurities and fears.

Gorsky-041814-Torah

Some Mountain Jews believe they are descendents of the Ten Lost Tribes and were exiled to Azerbaijan and Dagestan by Sancheriv.

Baim-041814-Piggy

Yom Tov is about spending time with your family. And while for some families the big once-in-a-lifetime experience is great, for others something low key is the way to go.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Dear Dr. Yael:

My heart is breaking; my husband’s friend has gotten divorced. While this type of situation is always sad, here I do believe it could have been avoided.

The plan’s goal is to provide supportive housing to 200 individuals with disabilities by the year 2020.

Despite being one of the fastest-growing Jewish communities in the U.S. – the estimated Jewish population is 70-80,000 – Las Vegas has long been overlooked by much of the Torah world.

She was followed by the shadows of the Six Million, by the ever so subtle awareness of their vanished presence.

Pesach is so liberating (if you excuse the expression). It’s the only time I can eat anywhere in the house, guilt free! Matzah in bed!

Now all the pain, fear and struggle were over and they were home. Yuli was safe and free, a hero returned to his land and people.

While it would seem from his question that he is being chuzpadik and dismissive, I wonder if its possible, if just maybe, he is a struggling, confused neshama who actually wants to come back to the fold.

I agree with the letter writer that a shadchan should respectfully and graciously accept a negative response to a shidduch offer.

Alternative assessments are an extremely important part of understanding what students know beyond the scope of tests and quizzes.

More Articles from E. Mangel
book-explaining-life

The poems in this collection, Explaining Life: The Wisdom of Modern Jewish Poetry, 1960-2010 – some written originally in Yiddish and Hebrew – do “pierce the heart,” and educate it as well. These are poems about major issues in daily life – love, loss, alienation, family relationships, the after-effects of war, death and renewal – which help us reflect on how we are living and suggest possible ways to cope with and to improve our lives.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/books/book-reviews/title-explaining-life-the-wisdom-of-modern-jewish-poetry-1960-2010/2012/08/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: