Creator, Are You Listening?

Creator, Are You Listening?

Israeli Poets on God and Prayer
David C. Jacobson
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 04/20/2007
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-34818-0
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In an anthology that is both scholarly and accessible to readers of contemporary poetry, David C. Jacobson examines the search for God in the work of six prominent Israeli poets—Yehuda Amichai, Admiel Kosman, Rivka Miriam, Zelda Mishkovsky, Hava Pinhas-Cohen, and Asher Reich.

In the book’s introduction, Jacobson explores the central role that poetry has always played and continues to play in our understanding of the religious experience. The work of each poet is then preceded by an introduction which establishes the historical and biographical contexts of the poems discussed. The poetry appears in the original Hebrew as well as Jacobson’s graceful English translations.

Author Bio

David C. Jacobson is Director of the Program in Judaic Studies at Brown University, where he is Professor of Judaic Studies. Among his books are Modern Midrash: The Retelling of Traditional Jewish Narratives by Twentieth-Century Hebrew Writers; Does David Still Play for You?: Israeli Poetry and the Bible; Israeli and Palestinian Identities in History and Literature (edited with Kamal Abdel-Malek); and History and Literature: New Readings of Jewish Texts in Honor of Arnold J. Band (edited with William Cutter).


“Some Israeli literary critics and scholars assume that Zionist nationalism and enlightened modernism are responsible for the lack of authentic religious expression in modern Hebrew poetry in general and in Israeli Hebrew poetry in particular. Jacobson (Brown Univ.) argues otherwise in this analytic and comprehensive study of contemporary Israeli poets Zelda (i.e., Zelda Mishkovsky), Yehuda Amichai, Asher Reich, Rivka Miriam, Hava Pinhas—Cohen, and Admiel Kosman. . . . Recommended. ”
 — Choice

““Jacobson’s commentary is knowledgeable, his prose highly readable, and the selection of poems fascinating. This book will be . . . welcome . . . in the field of modern Hebrew literature.” —Naomi Sokoloff, University of Washington David Jacobson examines the search for God in the work of six prominent Israeli poets: Yehuda Amichai, Admiel Kosman, Rivka Miriam, Zelda Mishkovsky, Hava Pinhas-Cohen, and Asher Reich. In this accessible bi-lingual edition, the poems appear in Hebrew as well as the author's graceful English translations.-”

“. . . a unique, epoch-making anthology of modern Israeli poetry.”
 — Chicago Jewish Star

“. . . 'theological' poets have been marginal in Israel until quite recently, and remain mostly untranslated and inaccessible to American readers. David C. Jacobson’s Creator, Are You Listening?: Israeli Poets on God and Prayer gives these poets, or at least a fair selection of them, some well-deserved exposure. . . . For each poet, Jacobson gives a concise introduction followed by representative poems in Hebrew with translations and commentary. The commentaries, in clear and unpretentious English, focus on words and phrases rather than themes. This makes sense: What makes these poets’ thoughts on God and prayer unique and interesting is the way they take apart and reuse the language of traditional Judaism. Explicating their language, Jacobson helps us understand their spirituality.”
 — Forward

“. . . Jacobson’s contribution to our understanding of the roots of this poetry is creative and pioneering. There is no way to underestimate the importance of his endeavor to explore the nature of the religious phenomenon in Israeli poetry. Jacobson’s translations and commentary should find their place in the fields of modern Hebrew literature and Jewish Studies, as well as in the hearts of readers, lovers of Hebrew poetry.Vol. 27.3 Spring 2009”
 — Ofra Yeglin, Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies, Emory University

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Religious Dimension of Israeli Poetry
1. Zelda Mishkovsky: "The small garden showed me signs that His mercies never cease."
Signs of God's Presence within Nature
3. Asher Reich: "Perhaps He'll answer me this time."
On the Possibility of Relating to God
4. Rivka Miriam: "For a person is a prayer."
Innovative Metaphors for God
5. Hava Pinhas-Cohen: "To the place where love has a manifest name."
The Individual Spiritual Path
6. Admiel Kosman: "Creator, aren't You listening?"
The Human and the Divine
Conclusion: Israeli Poetry and the Possibility of Religious Discourse in a Secular Age