3: Poem, “Heritage” (“Yerusha”) by Hayim Gouri, 1960.
Hayim Gouri was born in Tel Aviv in 1926. He served in the Haganah and in the commando troops during Israel’s War of Independence. His poetry from and following the war is often described as a poignant expression of the sentiments of the “war generation.” The poem “Heritage” deals with the relationships between the fathers of that generation and their sons, a common theme in Israeli society during the 1950s and 1960s. Gouri reflects the perspective of the young generation and depicts an old, passive, one may even suggest diasporic, Abraham.
Suggested activity: Ask the students to find one famous painting of the Akedah online. Ask them to compare the depiction of Abraham in their chosen painting to Gouri’s depiction. How old is Abraham in each depiction? Why might Gouri have depicted Abraham as an old, weak, and passive man? Call the students’ attention to the way in which the third stanza switches from Abraham’s perspective to Isaac’s.
Source: Hayim Gouri, “Heritage,” in The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse, ed. T. Carmi (London: Penguin, 1981), 565.