To Rosa Palatnik

By Rokhl Kramf, translated by Abigail Weaver

Written by:
Rokhl Kramf
Translated by:
Abigail Weaver
Summer 2022 / 5782
Part of issue number:
Translation 2022

This poem by Rokhl Kramf, addressed to Yiddish prose author Rosa Palatnik, exemplifies Kramf’s meditative form, expressing deep love in few words. When I read this poem, I am reminded of the metaphor of “Di goldene keyt,” the golden chain of the Yiddish literary tradition, linking one writer to another in shared legacy. This poem makes me feel that there is another golden chain (or maybe a silver one, to use the color mentioned in the poem) that links woman writers together —in love, in sisterhood, in mentorship, in sorrow, in shared striving to carry on the literary legacy of our mother’s mothers. I don’t know any details about Rokhl Kramf and Rosa Palatnik’s relationship aside from the emotional images that are shared in this poem, but I see this poem as a link in the chain between them, and I hope my translation links me to them as well.


I have a pocket mirror,
it’s small,
a tiny mirror.
It shows
the world in truth.
I look into the mirror,
I see in there
your silvering hair.

And I see
your eyes,
like two candles
turned toward the letters
in the prayer book
from our
     mother’s mother.

You are great,
so great is your
I struggle in
our sorrow
like a tear
with grief.

I wait
for you
like labor pains
await the coming of
the new;
I ache 
to hear 
our cries
of joy.

I ache
to see you,
I am
your sister
as you are 
for a thousand years
we have both
for the door
to our home;
but here on the way     
I have found
the mezuzah—
I hang it up
As a sign to you.

~Tel Aviv, April 4, 1971



Rokhl Kramf was born in the region of Galicia (today southeastern Poland, northwestern Ukraine) in 1908 and settled in Palestine in 1938. She published four volumes of poetry. Her poems tend to be short and have short lines, using repetition and rhyme to a meditative, almost dreamlike effect.

Abigail Weaver is a short story writer, director, playwright, and scenic carpenter residing in Northampton. Massachusetts. Other works she has written or translated can be found in In geveb: A Journal of Yiddish Studies, Metamorphoses, Paper Brigade Journal, and elsewhere on the Yiddish Book Center’s website.