I’m back home in NYC tonight from a mesmerized week within the riches and ruins of Spain. Marked by both tangible memories and haunted absence of the Jews of Andalusia, alongside great art and living beauty, this voyage, a poem, is yet to be processed.

Back on this night marking absence. Three years later, coming up this Saturday, is the anniversary of my father’s death. Ahead of this date, our family will gather in Jerusalem tomorrow at his gravesite and at my mother’s home. On Saturday, each at our homes and homes of worship, we will recite the poem of remembrance.

I light a candle here tonight and recite two poems ahead of the third, the Mourners Kaddish (Lab/Shul version).

The first, written in Hebrew by Moshe Ibn Ezra in Granada, is inscribed in stone within the memorial garden outside Toledo’s El Tranisto Synagogue and Sefard Museum. The English, crude and hurried, more work in process,is mine.

The second poem, by Pablo Neruda, was shared with me today by a friend whose father is also now a beloved absence. All three offered with love, longing and gratitude.

קְבָרִים מִן זְמָן קֶדֶם יְשָׁנִים / וּבָהֶם עַם שְׁנַת עוֹלָם יְשֵׁנִים
וְאֵין שִׂנְאָה וְלֹא קִנְאָה בְתוֹכָם / וְלֹא אַהְבָה וְלֹא אֵיבַת שְׁכֵנִים
וְלֹא יָכְלוּ שְׂעִפַּי, בַּחֲזוֹתָם, / לְהַפְרִיד בֵּין עֲבָדִים לַאֲדוֹנִים

These graves are ancient, always were,
Eternal people slumber there,
No hate, no jealousy exists among the dead
Not love, nor neighbors’ dread.
As I look on I can’t observe
Who lived as master and who as slave.

Moshe Ibn Ezra (Granada, 1055 – 1138) T. Amichai Lau-Lavie

Si muero sobreviveme con tanta fuerza pura
que despiertes la furia del palido y del frio
de sur a sur levanta tus ojos indelebles,
de sol a sol que suene tu boca de guitarra.

No quiero que vacilen tu risa ni tus pasos,
no quiero que se muera mi herencia de alegria,
no llames a mi pecho, estoy ausente.
Vive en mi ausencia como en una casa.

Es una casa tan grande la ausencia
que pasaras en ella a traves de los muros
y colgaras los cuadros en el aire.

Es una casa tan transparente la ausencia
que yp sin vida te vere vivir
y si sufres, mi amor, me morire otra vez.

If I die, survive me with such sheer force
that you waken the furies of the pallid and the cold,
from south to south lift your indelible eyes,
from sun to sun dream through your singing mouth.
I don’t want your laughter or your steps to waver,
I don’t want my heritage of joy to die.
Don’t call up my person. I am absent.
Live in my absence as if in a house.
Absence is a house so vast
that inside you will pass through its walls
and hang pictures in the air.
Absence is a house so transparent
that I, lifeless, will see you, living,
and if you suffer, my love, I will die again.

Pablo Neruda. Chile, 1904-1973) T. Chris Jansen

זכרונו לברכה
May memories bring blessing.

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