Natan Alterman / Yehoram Gaon: The Silver Platter

This haunting song conveys the great sacrifices upon which the State of Israel was establishment. Soon after the release of the UN Partition Plan of 1947, Chaim Weizmann, who would become the first president of the State of Israel, stated “The state will not be given to the Jewish people on a silver platter.” This famous quote was the inspiration for Natan Alterman’s famous poem, “The Silver Platter,” which was published in Davar newspaper on December 19, 1947. This poem, which spoke of the tragic sacrifices that would be made for independence, was later put to music and performed by Yehoram Gaon. An English translation of the poem is provided below. See the closing verses in Hebrew below and the complete Hebrew words here.

The Silver Platter by Natan Alterman

And the land will have rest. The heavens’ eye crimsons
And dims away slow
Over borders still smoking.
And the nation will rise – torn-hearted but breathing…
To accept the one miracle
There is no other coming…

She prepares for the rite. She wakes with the moon
And stands, ere the dawn, swathed in joy and in awe.
Then before her appear —
A boy and a girl
Marching, ever slowly, towards the fore of the nation.

Wearing full kits, and heavy of boot,
They rise in the path
Silent proceeding.
Their clothes are unchanged, water’s not yet erased
A trace of days’ toil and nights spent under fire.

Tired without end, ascetics from rest,
Dripping with Hebrew youth’s dews —
The two approach quiet,
And motionless stand.
Not a sign if they’re living, or if they’ve been shot.

Then the nation will ask, washed in wonder and tears,
“Who are you?” And their silent reply:
“We are the silver platter
Upon which you were handed the state of the Jews.”

So they shall say. And fall to their feet in a shadowy veil.
And the rest shall be told in the annals of Israel.

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