From there, they journeyed to Gudgodah, and from
Gudgodah to Yotvath, a land with streams of water.
– Deuteronomy 10:7
The first time I thought about how good it is
when the salt and the sweet blend together
was in Israel.
I was there on a program, because even if
one isn’t on a program, a trip to Israel
is different from going to Palm Springs
or even Paris…It is a journey with weight.
It is the culmination of thousands of years
of history. It’s what your ancestors
always wanted for you, and what was
promised to you before anyone had a pen
to write anything down.
I had some free time, which is unusual
on a program when so much is packed
into your every day, you need a lifetime
to sleep it off when you return to
what you call home. And there,
across the street from the beach, in the
magnificent and modern city of Tel Aviv
sat Yotvata – a miracle of a dairy restaurant
with a beckoning watermelon and salty cheese
on the menu like a revelation. In my young state
(my hair hadn’t even thought about turning gray
or leaving my head yet) I had never heard of
mixing fruit and cheese. My tongue was in love.
Soon all kinds of opposites started showing up
in my diet, the most significant addition –
sea salt and chocolate. According to
all the knowledge available to me, Yotvata
is permanently closed in Tel Aviv though
some sources say they moved to Rome
perhaps to rejuvenate the empire.
But Kibbutz Yotvata still thrives
on the land where the Israelites visited
after a stop in Gudgodah on their journey
to their permanent home across the river.
Sometimes things are too salty, sometimes
too sweet. But the blending of these disparates
ascends above all the conflicts of our tongues.
Los Angeles poet Rick Lupert created the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 26 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion“, “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “I Am Not Writing a Book of Poems in Hawaii” (Poems written in Hawaii – Ain’t Got No Press, August 2022) and edited the anthologies “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.