Great medieval Hebrew poet Yehuda Halevi is golden this month, and not just because he lived during the Golden Age of Spain. First, Nextbook Press—Tablet Magazine’s close relation—published an acclaimed biography of Halevi by Hillel Halkin, who argues that his subject was, in addition to the poet laureate of the Jewish people, in many ways the first Zionist. After the release, there followed a string of dance parties from Amsterdam to Brooklyn based on The Kuzari, Halevi’s famous work of religious philosophy. Okay, that didn’t actually happen. But! There really is a Halevi poem set to music featured in an otherwise unremarkable play, Conviction, which is currently in previews off-Broadway. So there’s that! (Plus there’s Hillel Halkin’s book, which really is excellent and engaging.)
About halfway through Conviction, a melodrama about the Spanish Inquisition, a beautiful young crypto-Jewess sings a Halevi poem, “Shabbat, my love!”, to her lover, a priest:
Now ’tis dusk. With sudden light distilled
From one sweet face, the world is filled;
The turmoil of my heart is stilled—
For you have arrived, Shabbat, my love!
Check out the full text of the poem, and enjoy the rest of Andalusian History Month.