Israeli poet and songwriter Yonatan Gefen wrote about a childlike soldier he served with during his military service who was killed during a training accident.
Israeli musician Shem Tov Levi put the poem to music and included it in his 1975 album. It struck a chord with many Israelis in the wake of the heavy losses in the Yom Kippur War and has become part of the Israeli national "liturgy" of songs of mourning played and sung on Yom Hazikaron, Memorial Day.
My mother heard it during a visit to Israel around the time the album came out and connected deeply with the poignant imagery Gefen borrow from French author Antoine St Exupery's "Le Petit Prince", one of my mother's favourite books and one she read to me often. More than just being a writer who's work she enjoyed, St Exupery was one of my mother's heroes, a Frenchman who fought the Nazis in World War Two and also tried to save the lives of Jews, as such he was also a Hasid Umot Haolam.
A few weeks ago I visited the small southern Israeli town of Yeruham, literally smack dab in the middle of the desert. The version of the song in the clip below is performed by young musicians from the Yeruham Conservatory, many of whom were also involved in a recent project with Professor Francesco Lotoro to record and perform songs and pieces of music written by Jews during the Holocaust, and by doing so preserve the memory of the many Jewish composers, poets, singers and musicians who perished.
I cannot hear this song today without thinking of all these stories, the many people lost to us and very much still with us, the complex modern history of the Jewish people this song represents to me.