This first US publication of Erez Bitton, one of Israel's most celebrated poets, recalls the fate of Moroccan Jewish culture with poems both evocative and pure. Considered the founding father of Mizrahi Israeli, a major tradition in the history of Hebrew poetry, Bitton's bilingual collection dramatically expands the scope of biographical experience and memory, ultimately resurrecting a vanishing world and culture.
Preliminary Background Words
My mother my motherfrom a village of shrubs green of a different green.From a bird's nest producing milk sweeter than sweet.From a nightingale's cradle of a thousand Arabian nights.
My mother my motherwho staved off evilwith her middle fingerswith beating her cheston behalf of all mothers.
My father my fatherwho delved into worldswho sanctified the Sabbath with pure Araqwho was most practicedin synagogue traditions.
And I—having distanced myselfdeep into my heartwould recitewhen all were asleepshort Bach massesdeep into my heartin Jewish-Moroccan.
Erez Bitton was born in 1942 to Moroccan parents in Oran, Algeria, and emigrated to Israel in 1948. Blinded by a stray hand grenade in Lod, he spent his childhood in Jerusalem's School for the Blind. He is considered the founding father of Mizrahi poetry in Israel—the first poet to take on the conflict between North African immigrants and the Ashkenazi society, and the first to use Judeo-Arabic dialect in his poetry. His most recent award is the Bialik Lifetime Achievement Award (2014).