Congregation B’nai Israel’s ChaiLife
Congregation B’nai Israel’s new social group for Jewish Young Adults (20’s, 30’s, and 40’s) invites you to Purim of the Past! Join us March 4th at 7:00 pm for a night of costumes, feasting, drinks, and dancing with a live DJ to kick off the holidays!
Our theme of the night is celebrating our history, so bring your best historical costumes, whether that means togas, busting out your hottest Y2K outfits, and everything in between! We’ll have a costume contest for the best dressed and most fun costumes of the night!
Tickets are $25 per person and include two drink tickets, with more drink tickets available for purchase. RSVP at https://www.cbi18.org/events/chailifes-purim-of-the-past/ or purchase tickets at the door.
ChaiLife is open to all looking to connect with other Jewish people of the same age, whether you’re single, married, have kids, or just a furbaby. Find us on Instagram (@chailife_cbi) and Facebook (https://m.facebook.com/groups/chailife/?ref=share) to keep up with our upcoming events! After Purim, we’ll be having a Post-Passover Pizza Party & Board Game Night on April 13th, and a Lag B’Omer bonfire (details TBA).
Zionist Revolutionary Poetry Comes Alive
By Moshe Phillips
It’s not too often that the release of a new book of poems that are over 80 years old can be seen as a transformative moment in the American Jewish community. It can be argued that this happened with The Complete and Translated Poetic Works of Avraham Stern published by Yishai Edberg. It is the first book of English translations of history’s key Zionist revolutionary.
For decades Israel’s left-leaning academic establishment, as well as Jewish educators in the United States, successfully fought to minimize the impact the Stern’s LEHI group, and the Irgun underground Stern had originally fought in, had on London’s decision to end the British Mandate. It’s only in the last 20 years or so that English speaking readers have been able to really learn the details about LEHI’s story.
Avraham Stern (Yair) was the founder and leader of the Stern Group (maligned by the British as the Stern Gang). After Stern’s 1942 assassination by British detectives in Tel Aviv his soldiers later formed the LEHI (Fighters for the Freedom of Israel.)
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir was a member of the LEHI’s three-man high command after Stern’s assassination. In 1998, Stern wrote in Haaretz about Stern stating:
“Those who revere his memory know a great deal about Yair Avraham Stern, who in the 1940s established the underground LEHI movement to fight against the British regime in Palestine. Yair—as his friends knew him—believed that only the expulsion of the British from the Land of Israel would enable the Jewish People to establish an independent Jewish state, and he foresaw that this goal could only be achieved by force. However, his admirers knew little about the “other” Yair: Yair the poet.”
Edberg’s translation brings Stern’s distinctive poetic voice to English. No easy task.
The book has a nearly 20-page introduction that provides an overview of Stern’s story and that of the LEHI. This section is not without superficial flaws but is engaging and thought-provoking.
The balance of the book contains over 50 poems with extensive explanatory footnotes. In his footnotes Edberg demonstrates how Stern repurposed lines from Jewish liturgy and verses from Tanach to inspire young Jews to take action on behalf of the cause of Zionism. What’s more the footnotes also offer historic background and other information that shed light on Stern’s ideas. Before this publication, only one of Stern’s poems was readily available in a complete translation.
The Complete and Translated Poetic Works of Avraham Stern is available in softcover through Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Translated-Poetic-Works-Avraham/dp/B0B4JT2GH7/.
[Moshe Phillips is a commentator on Jewish affairs. He was a U.S. delegate to the 38th World Zionist Congress in 2020. The views expressed are his own.]