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About this poet

Jessie Ethel Sampter was born on March 22, 1883, in New York City. Having contracted polio as a child, Sampter spent much of her childhood confined to her bed. She was educated at home, where she read extensively, and later audited classes at Columbia University.

Sampter began writing poetry in her twenties, and her work focused on themes of Zionism, social justice, and pacifism, particularly between the Arabic and Jewish peoples. In 1919, Sampter immigrated to Palestine, where she helped establish the country’s first Jewish Scout camp and a convalescent home, as well as classes for Yemenite women and girls.

The author of several books on philosophy and religion, Sampter also published five poetry collections during her lifetime and a translation of poems for children by noted Jewish poet Hayim Nahman Bialik.

Sampter died at Kibbutz Givat Brenner, Israel, on November 11, 1938.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry
Brand Plucked From the Fire (Jewish Publication Society of America, 1937)
The Emek (Bloch Publishing, 1927)
Around the Year in Rhymes for the Jewish Child (Bloch Publishing Company, 1920)
The Coming of Peace (Publishers Printing Company, 1919)
The Great Adventurer (Robert Kerr Press, 1908)

Blessings for Chanukah

Blessed art thou, O God our Lord,
Who made us holy with his word,
And told us on this feast of light
To light one candle more each night.

(Because when foes about us pressed
     To crush us all with death or shame,
The Lord his priests with courage blest
To strike and give his people rest
And in the House that he loved best
     Relight our everlasting flame.)

Blest art Thou, the whole world’s King,
Who did so wonderful a thing
For our own fathers true and bold
At this same time in days of old!

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

Jessie E. Sampter

Jessie Ethel Sampter was born on March 22, 1883, in New York City. Having contracted polio as a child, Sampter spent much of her childhood confined to her bed. She was educated at home, where she read extensively, and later audited classes at Columbia University.

by this poet

poem

Tell me, what is Exile’s light?
Is it candles burning bright,
Little candles in the night?

Exile’s light is this old man.
Ere the morning he began
Israel’s holy page to scan.

And he teaches from this page
Israel’s law in every age:
Exile’s light is Israel’s sage

poem

Our year begins with burnished leaves,
     That flame in frost and rime,
With purple grapes and golden sheaves
     In harvest time.

Our year begins with biting cold,
     With winds and storms and rain;
The new year of the Jew grows old
     In strife and pain.

poem

We are the People of the Book,
     The written page is our salvation;
This only from the wreck we took
     When conquerors crushed our nation.

The Holy Book has been our land,
     Our seed, our sowing and our reaping.
How can the stranger understand
     What treasure we