By Mel Glenn (Brooklyn, NY)
“You a Jew?”
“Yes, I believe I am.”
“Never met a Jew before.”
This from a sparkling, fresh-faced girl of nineteen,
a future film actress, I’m sure, on her day off
from the fundamentalist camp by the lake.
With the weight of my ancestry
pressing down on my back,
I felt the instant spokesman for my tribe.
Shouldn’t I be wearing a yarmulke and sporting payos?
Shouldn’t I be blessing this fair maiden in Hebrew?
“Ask me any question you like,” I said,
my ancestors from the Holocaust
rolling over in laughter from their graves.
“Do Jews believe in heaven?” she tried, innocently.
“No, St. Pete,” I said, using humor to shield my ignorance,
“but I respect your beliefs,” I added unnecessarily,
trying to extinguish the fires of the crematoriums
while posing as the even-handed poster child
for a religion that was as new to her as it was to me.
The author of twelve books for young adults, Mel Glenn has lived nearly all his life in Brooklyn, NY, where he taught English at A. Lincoln High School for thirty-one years. Lately, he’s been writing poetry, and you can find his most recent poems in a new YA anthology, This Family Is Driving Me Crazy, edited by M. Jerry Weiss.