The Silver Platter: From Tears to Amazement

As we transition from Yom HaZikaron to Yom HaAtzmaut   let’s take pause to reflect on the words of Chaim Weizmann, the first president of Israel in 1947, after the United Nations had voted to partition the British mandate and from it, to create two independent nations one Jewish and one Arab. He said:“No state is ever handed on a silver platter….The partition plan does not give the Jews a state but only an opportunity.” This in turn inspired Natan Alterman to write a poem titled The Silver Platter.

The poem is a prophetic prediction of what exactly it was going to take to create a Jewish State in the land of Israel, the level of commitment and dedication, and the level of loss that was going to require to transform the dream of an independent Jewish state into reality. He wrote:

And the land grows still, the red-eye of the sky  slowly dimming over smoking frontiers
As the nation arises, torn at heart but breathing, to receive its miracle, there is not other
As the ceremony draws near,  it will rise, standing erect in the moonlight in terror and joy
When across from it will step out a youth and a lass and slowly march toward the nation
Dressed in battle gear, dirty, shoes heavy with grime, they ascend the path quietly
To change garb, to wipe their brow
They have not yet found time. Still bone weary from days and from nights in the field
Full of endless fatigue and unrested,
Yet the dew of their youth is still seen on their head

Thus they stand at attention, giving no sign of life or death
Then a nation in tears and amazement
will ask: “Who are you?”

And they will answer quietly, “We Are the silver platter on which the Jewish state was given.”
Thus they will say and fall back in shadows
And the rest will be told in the chronicles of Israel (December 19, 1947)


Every generation wants to do everything we can to make life easier for the next generation. I learned this poem for the first time in middle school. My father-in-law sent it to me today. It is amazing how different I read this now that I am a father. We need to pull the chronicles out from behind the shadows of history and reflect on the Silver Platter. Today is the day when we need to express our gratitude for the supreme sacrifice so many have made to bring about and maintain the modern State of Israel. As we move from Yom HaZikaron to Yom HaAtzmaut we stop to realize that today is for tears and tomorrow is for amazement.

-This blog post is inspired by a Dvar Torah give my Silvio Frydman my father-in-law


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