Daily Israel Report

Tisha B’Av Elegy in Memory of Gush Katif

An elegy mourning the destruction of Gush Katif is being adopted by more and more synagogues as part of the Tisha B’Av liturgy.
By Rachel Sylvetsky,Tzvi Gedalya
First Publish: 8/9/2011, 11:18 AM

Gush Katif Forever
Gush Katif Forever
Flash 90

An elegy mourning the destruction of communities in Gush Katif, northern Gaza and northern Samaria, written by a Bible scholar in Samaria, is being adopted by more and more synagogues as part of the Tisha B’Av liturgy.

A small number of elegies, in addition to the Book of Lamentations (Eicha) by the prophet Jeremiah, are recited on the eve of Tisha B’Av, and a larger number are recited after morning prayers. The elegies recall the destuction of Holy Temples and other tragedies, such as the Romans' torturous slaying of 10 Torah scholars.

The elegy in memory of Gush Katif and other destroyed Jewish communities was written by famed Bible scholar Rabbi Dr. Yoel Elitzur. The government demolished them in the month of Av 5755, August 2005.

Arutz Sheva brings you the poem in translation, with a link to the Hebrew original, which is in rhyme and is filled with associations, verses and alliterative expressions taken from the Tanach. A thorough expounding of these would necessitate extensive footnotes, not written as yet, but the words as is have a beauty of their own.

Elegy for Gush Katif, to be read on Tisha B’Av:

How the lands of milk and honey are lost
Despoiled, destroyed, ruined, desiccated
Green fields, orchards, hothouses
Trampled on by shepherds and herds

How could those in halls of power betray
Their G-d, their voters, their very souls and sons,
How did the guardian soldiers and police turn
From beloved brothers to besieging foes

How desolate are you Gush Katif, beloved land
Of verdant parks, sand and sea, love and harmony,
Filled like a pomegranate with Torah, good deeds
And now a ruin, a desolation

How were religion, law, justice and custom
Trampled and mocked
The righteous imprisoned, distress everpresent
Kindness turned to keening, justice to jeering

How could the black-clothed multitudes
Burst into beloved homes at dawn
Unashamed, flags sewn on their shirts
A travesty of blue and white before our G-d

How did the grandeur filled synagogues
Turn into blazing torches at dusk
“Do not hide thy face from us” they entreated
But You answered not

How the bomb-launching demons
Did celebrate raucously on our ruins
The mistress, banished, looked on from afar
While the son of her maidservant cavorted in glee

How did the ploughshares flatten
Elei Sinai, Dugit, Nisanit
And terrorists rose from within their ruins
Sending to us their missiles of death

How the pure did rush to Kfar Maimon
But found not the strength to surge on as one
Netzarim waited in vain
Katif, Tel Ketifa were broken in spirit

How solitary sit Gedid and Ganei Tal
Netzer Hazani’s beauty is gone
Neve Dekalim, a jackal’s home
And ocean waves remain of Shirat HaYam, Kfar Yam

How the looters did plunder and spoil
Rafiach Yam, P’at Sade are no more
And a wind at B’dolach
Dims the glow of the golden sands

How could not the merit of the ancient sage
Rabbi Elazar of Kfar Darom stand up to the Heavens
While following Kfar Darom’s 1948 defenders
The youth on its roof stood resolute

How is Atzmona vanished from the earth
No grapes on her vines, her herds let to wander
Morag is dispersed
Gan Or’s light extinguished

How was Moses’ blessing forgotten
“The tens of thousands of Ephraim and thousands of Menasseh”
How, as then, in the vineyard of Nayot
Evil ones stole the land of our Fathers

Chomesh was filled with soldiers, police
Forcibly dragging young women and men
While the faithful stood in vain in Sa-Nur
To protect their newly-built house of prayer

Kadim is gone, its buildings ruins
Ganim is destroyed, tell it not in Jenin
How in Amona the spoilers arose
To beat and injure, their cruelty shown

How, tell us, our Protector

Who holds close His followers,

Whose word is truth
Can You find more loyal sons than these
Did we not pour out our pure hearts to You?

You will tend Your flock with love
Accept their prayers, and may it be Your will
To speedily bring Your sons back to their borders
For You have said: “My people will be shamed no more.”