The Stones of Lifta by Marc Kaminsky


The poems of Marc Kaminsky’s The Stones of Lifta address the heartbreak of a history torqued and twisted by fear and hatred, but this poet’s heart remains unbroken, alive, responsive, and attuned to a painful dissonance. He consents, humbly and bravely, to abide with the suffering of both Israelis and Palestinians, to align himself with both his heritage and his empathy, so that the indissoluble contradictions of that conflict become, ultimately, nothing less than the paradox at the heart of being fully, vulnerably, honestly human. —Richard Hoffman


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 92
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: December, 2019
  • ISBN: 978-1-948017-58-9


The ruins of Lifta, an archeological site of incalculable value outside Jerusalem is a nexus of “irreconcilable stories.” To the stones of Lifta and their compelling mute testimony Kaminsky has bent his poet’s ear, transcribing for us their urgent, mournful, bitter and aggrieved voices that witness to the layers of memory and history here. As the poet was summoned to Lifta, this probing and timely book summons the reader with blunt, contentious dialogues, daring and tender monologues, striking allegories, and always, the piercing questions that, seemingly unanswerable, must continue to be asked in the pursuit of understanding and justice. —Jeanne Marie Beaumont 

Marc Kaminsky’s The Stones of Lifta is at once the most emotionally evocative and politically nuanced collection of poems about the Israel/Palestinian struggle that I have encountered in my 33 years as editor of Tikkun. Calling on us to recognize what he calls “the shattermarks of catastrophe,” Kaminsky introduces us to the way Jews have lost our ethical mooring while refusing to make a false equivalence with the suffering of the Palestinian people who rightly insist that reclaiming Jewish souls cannot take place until Palestinians have reclaimed at least part of their land. Yet this is not a political tract, but a set of poetic encounters with Palestinians who have lost so much and yet retained their dignity and hope. —Rabbi Michael Lerner 

These poems reside where the soul meets heartbreak in wrenching beauty. Masterful. —Deena Metzger



Unworthy as I am, when I saw
footage of my friend Menachem climbing beneath
the Jerusalem hills with an old man-
a displaced person-an Arab
who guided him into the ruins of his home
in Lifta, I felt something
become as clear and actual to me
as if for one pulse beat I heard
a voice speaking to my heart.

Call it the divine, it is the voice that calls
to us once or twice in a lifetime.
We recognize it immediately and answer, Here I am,
for we remember it from before
we were born, and remain ready all our lives to go
where it sends us. It spoke clearly
and distinctly as I sat with Menachem
in my Brooklyn office, watching
his unfinished film, it said to me, Go
to Lifta, accompany your friend to the emptied village
of Lifta, walk beside him as he treads carefully
around the boulder that blocks the winding path up to Lifta.


Marc KaminskyMarc Kaminsky is a poet and psychotherapist in private practice in Brooklyn. He is the author of eight previous books of poetry, including A Cleft in the Rock (Dos Madres Press), The Road from Hiroshima (Simon & Schuster), and Daily Bread (University of Illinois Press). His poems, essays and fiction have appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including The Manhattan Review, The American Scholar, Natural Bridge, The Oxford Book of Aging, and Voices within the Ark: The Modern Jewish Poets. He has published six books on aging, reminiscence and late-life development, and the culture of Yiddishkeit.

Additional information

Weight 6.5 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .25 in