Anda Pinkerfeld Amir, Erev Shabbat with the kibbutz, 1923
This is a poem written by Anda Pinkerfeld Amir in 1923 describing the beginning of Shabbat on the kibbutz. At this time, kibbutz members worked very hard, mostly in farming, for six days a week. Amir describes their hard labour as a weight on their shoulders with hands scarred from the hard work. But then, suddenly, Shabbat arrives, work is over, they stand up straight, shrugging off their burdens, and start singing and dancing.
Anda Pinkerfeld Amir belonged to a kibbutz from the secular Hashomer Hatzair movement. These kibbutzim did not observe religious laws, but the leaders of the kibbutz movement saw the essential social value of Shabbat; they demanded that no one work on this day and that Shabbat be celebrated in a way that reflected the socialist values of the kibbutzim. This poem indeed reflects the happy and meaningful way in which Shabbat was celebrated.
Anda Pinkerfeld Amir was born in Poland in 1902 and joined the Hashomer Hatzair movement after a pogrom took place in Lvov in 1918. In 1920 she immigrated to Palestine with a group from Hashomer HaTzair. Anda and her husband lived on several kibbutzim and eventually settled in Kibbutz Kiryat Anavim, close to Jerusalem.
In her youth Amir wrote and published poetry in Polish, but when she moved to Israel she began writing in Hebrew. After World War II, she was sent to work in the (DP) displacement peoples camps in Germany assisting the Holocaust survivors. Following her experiences in Europe, she was one of the first writers to write about the Holocaust. Amir wrote many children’s poems and stories, and her early poems were published in the children’s newspaper, Davar. She wrote many nursery rhymes about animals, Jewish festivals, and events happening in Israel that have become Israeli children’s classics. In 1936 Anda Pinkerfeld Amir received the Bialik Prize for her children’s poetry and in 1978 she received the Israel Prize for children’s literature.
List of Anda Pinkerfeld Amir’s children songs – lyrics and recordings (Hebrew), Zemereshet
What Exactly is a Kibbutz, Jewish Agency
Y. Simon, “Shabbat on a Kibbutz” (painting), Post War at Hausderkunst
Jewish Studies teachers can teach this poem when teaching about Shabbat and the way different communities celebrate the day. This poem is also an interesting way to discuss life on kibbutz and to compare it to other ways of life both today and at the time the poem was written.
Literature teachers can use the poem as an introduction to Israeli poetry in general and to Anda Pinkerfeld Amir’s works in particular.
What is the title of the poem?
Who wrote the poem?
Describe the handwriting.
Reading Between the Lines
How does the poet describe Shabbat on the kibbutz?
According to the poem, how did the kibbutz members feel when Shabbat arrived?
What were Anda Pinkerfeld Amir’s connections to life on a kibbutz?
Amir describes Shabbat on a secular kibbutz.
Is it surprising that they celebrated Shabbat even though they were not religious? If so, why? If not, why? Why do you think that secular kibbutzim that did not observe Jewish laws nonetheless celebrated the arrival of Shabbat?
The poem was written in 1923 and describes one aspect of life on a kibbutz.
Look for information about life on a kibbutz during the British Mandate.
What are the similarities and differences between life on kibbutz then and now?
Anda Pinkerfeld Amir’s life is typical of many young people who left Europe in the 1920s.
Look up information about the poet and explain this statement.
Have you ever been to a kibbutz?
What did you feel about the communal way of living there?
Do you feel happy, like the kibbutz members, when Shabbat starts?
Do you sing and dance? What do you do?
Write an imaginary diary of a week in the life of a kibbutz member from the 1920's. Describe their life during the week and on Shabbat.
If you were to write a poem about Shabbat, which moment would you choose?
Compose a poem about that specific moment.
Shabbat Evening with the kibbutz
Six days of work weighing on shoulders
Thick hands heavy like stones
Suddenly our burden is thrown off
We straighten our backs
And wild singing from our chests emerge,
Crazy dancing legs go forth