An Israeli re-visits her home in Cairo

 Tahrir Square now and then: it was home to Ada Aharoni’s family before their brutal expulsion in 1948.

These two poems were written  by the author, academic and poetess Ada Aharoni when she visited her home in Cairo for the first time in 30 years.




 Ada Aharoni

On the eve of Hanukah

I climb the staircase

Of what used to be my home –

In El Tahrir Square in Cairo

In my faraway Egyptian past.

After thirty fleeting years

With trembling hand

I ring the bell of my former home.

A woman with a kind round smile

Opens the door, hears my story and cries:

“You lived in this house thirty years ago?

Come in, come in, ahlan wesahlan, welcome,

I am so glad you came!

I have kept something of yours

For thirty years, which I think

Is important.

But first, coffee and sharbat,

And my bassboussa dipped in golden honey…

I sip the honey, sharbat and coffee

While happy, hurting memories

Flamboyant pictures of the past

Flow down my spine

Like the turbid copper waters

Of the Nile.

Then with a round secretive smile

Monira places on the table

A white nylon bundle and

Slowly, slowly opens

Our Hanuka miracle –

A velvet bag

With golden letters and a flower

Embroidered by my grandmother

Half a century ago –

And in it

My Father’s Talit

My Father’s prayer shawl!


I will inhale the Bridge

And will exhale the wall.

I sang you Bridge

In every grain

Of the Pomegranate of my life,

I wrote you in all the languages

In all the keys of a unique

Immortal Symphony.

Ada Aharoni’s story

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