Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Culture

POEM: Jerusalem Shuts Her Heart

Translated from the Hebrew by Alexandra Berger-Polsky

Jerusalem shuts her heart to herself
wraps herself in tall watchtowers
she makes a wall
between herself and the eyes of the people.

Night after night
after sunset
she goes out in a heavy robe
and checks that all her gates are closed
since all her inhabitants are imprisoned
and she places locks on the trees.

And one woman
comes up from the desert screaming
banging on the wall’s stones
calling out crying of that which is in her heart:
“Come my beloved let us go out from the city
let us sleep in the villages and awake in the vineyards”
and Jerusalem slept and her heart did not wake.

And that one woman
lifts heavy iron keys
to the openings of the locks
and her screams wake the guards
who patrol the city dressed in uniforms
who strike her flesh and bruise her skin
tear her garment
night after night.

Night after night before the setting of the moon
the Divine goes out to the Mount of Dispute
leaping over the wall and running away with it
to the slopes of the desert
to the coastal plain
far from the shuttered city
and the guards.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.