Ein li eretz acheret gam im admati boeret. “I have no other country even if my land is aflame.”
This Israeli song has been in my head and on my lips for the past two weeks. The images of the Carmel mountain range aflame brought back to mind this anthem from the 1980’s with its deep love for the Israel of reality and the Israel of our dreams.
“I won’t be silent because my country
has changed her face.
I will not give up reminding her
And sing in her ears
until she will open her eyes”
By coincidence, I have also spent these past two weeks reading To the End of the Land by David Grossman. It is as difficult and beautiful a book as I have ever read. While this particular song by Ehud Manor is not mentioned in the book, the sense of helplessness in the face of “the matsav” is woven through every page.
As Grossman describes Ora and Avram’s hike through the Carmel mountains the poignancy of the narrative is shadowed by what the reader knows has happened in those forested acres. The rest of the book as well is laden with metaphor that is reality and reality that is metaphor.
What impacted me as I read this was how it touched on so much that I feel as an ohevet Yisrael (a lover of Israel), as a rabbi who deeply longs for peace but understands the complicated nuances of the situation, as a mother of children who wants to see them growing up safe and healthy, as a person of faith who trusts in ritual to add meaning and magic to my life, and as a voracious reader who looks to stories to enlarge my world.
Once I heard a comment by another Israeli author, Amos Oz, that there is no Hebrew word for fiction. To the End of the Land is a painful love story to the land of Israel and the people of Israel and to parents and children.
Be guf ka’ev be lev raev, kan hu beiti
“I have no other country
even if my land is aflame
With a hurting body, with a hungry heart,
Here is my home.”