‘Tzir Kissufim* — Route of Longing’

Translated from the Hebrew by Toby Klein Greenwald

A felled tree.

Nothing more

Will be as it will be

And the ax that has shattered and will bow

Beneath it, His voice is heard

From one end of the world

To the other.

The waysides are shorn and haunted now

To intensify security

If the Lord protect not the route

In vain labored the guard.

Five souls fly heavenward, howling

From one end of the world

To the other

The Route of Longing is blocked

Our heart

Uncircumcised, is cracked,

No more

Will things be as they were


Why will the headlines cry,

“Where is your G-d?”

And our G-d, who is in our books —

All that He desired, He did

As our strength waned

The slender membrane was torn

In our virginal innocence

The voice strides

From one end of the world

To the other

The remainders of worlds plunged

Without Him

To the depths of an infinite pit

Will this be the last roar?

That which has been cut down


Maiden of Israel

The sons are distressed

No strength remains for birthing:

When the broken heart will open in the last roar for life

It will transform into a first cry

Of a wonder born,

A twig — from fertile roots

The Route of Longing opens

In the darkness to all who will it

G-d who lives and protects and saves and answers

To all who call upon Him in truth

As the longings howl heavenward from one end of the world

To the other:

And I have betrothed you forever

And you knew the essence of the Lord.


The above poem is part of a series by Ruhama Shapira, who lives with her husband and four children in Shirat Hayam (“Song of the sea”), a community located on the seashore of Gush Katif in Gaza. Her husband, Shmuel, is the rabbi of the community and together they direct a regional center for teenagers who, in her words, “are seeking God, and seeking to comfort the child who is broken inside of them.” She wrote this poem in the summer of 2004, following the 30-day memorial service for Tali Hatuel and her four daughters, who were murdered by terrorists on Tzir Kissufim. During the memorial service, Shapira and her husband, their children and other mourners were shot at by Palestinians and had to run for cover.

*Tzir kissufim, literally“route of longing(s),”is the name of the main thoroughfare that leads into Gush Katif. In Hebrew, “tzir” also means “birth contraction” and “emissary.”

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‘Tzir Kissufim* — Route of Longing’

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