Chapter

“Why Have You Forsaken Them?”

Neta Stahl

in Other and Brother

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199760008
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979561 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199760008.003.0005
“Why Have You Forsaken Them?”

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This chapter shows that the figure of Jesus in Avot Yeshurun's (1904–1992) poetry can be understood through the biographical context of the poet himself: namely, his longing for his family home and the feelings of guilt he experienced for abandoning them when he immigrated to Palestine. The traumatic loss of nearly his entire family in the Holocaust is evident in Yeshurun's poetry, which explains his guilt for leaving them to die in Europe. His immigration parted him not only from his family and friends, but also from a culture and language. The figure of Jesus in Yeshurun's poetry is an integral part of the connection between his personal departure and the Holocaust. Yeshurun constantly attempts to reconstruct and preserve the memory of his family home and the world destroyed in the war. Surprising as it might seem, the figure of Jesus is one of the central symbols for this past, and serves as a bridge for its reconstruction. Jesus is an object that metonymically symbolizes Europe, because of its association with the home, life, and world that were lost.

Keywords: Yechiel Perelmuter; Europe; longing; memory; Metonymy; Yiddish; Hebrew; Holocaust poetry

Chapter.  5863 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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