Yehuda Amichai was born in Würzburg, Germany, to an Orthodox Jewish family, and was raised speaking both Hebrew and German.

Amichai immigrated with his family at the age of 12 to Petah Tikva in Mandate Palestine in 1935, moving to Jerusalem in 1936. He was a member of the Palmach, the strike force of the Haganah, the defense force of the Jewish community in pre-state Israel. As a young man he volunteered and fought in World War II as a member of the British Army Jewish Brigade, and in the Negev on the southern front in the Israeli War of Independence.

 

Almost a Love Poem

If my parents and your parents
hadn’t migrated to Eretz Yisrael in 1936,
we would have met in 1944

there, on the platform at Auschwitz.
I at twenty,
and you, at five.

Where’s Mammele?
Where’s Tattele?

What’s your name?
Hannale.
 

Yehuda Amichai
(Translated by Glenda Abramson)