Else Lasker-Schuler: Last Rites

detail from Thebes with Jussuf
Elsa Lasker-Schüler,
Thebes with Jussuf (detail)

Her last rites, like her life, were memorable. The Hebrew writer S.Y. Agnon said the Kaddish, the Hebrew memorial prayer for the dead; he was followed by Rabbi Kurt Wilhelm, who recited Lasker-Schüler's poem I Know in German, something unheard of in Jewish Palestine at that time.[*]

Leopold Krakauer, the artist-architect and a friend of the poet, created Lasker-Schüler's tombstone. When the Mount of Olives became Jordanian territory, the Jordanians desecrated the cemetary and utilized the smooth gravestones for building purposes. The rough and natural heavy stone from the Galilee with Krakauer had chosen for the Poet's grave was shoved to the side as unsuitable. After the Six-Day War in 1967, when the Mount of Olives again became a part of Israel, one of the few tombstones to be found was that of the poet Else Lasker-Schüler.

footnotes [*] Heinz Politzer, "The Blue Piano of Else Lasker-Schueler," Commentary 9 (1950), p. 335.
excerpted From: Durchslag, Audri and Jeanette Litman-Demeestère. Else Lasker-Schüler: Hebrew Ballads and Other Poems. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1980, p. xxii. Permission of Jewish Publication Society.





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