Monthly Archives: September 2020

Yom Kippur

by Rick Black (Arlington, VA)

At this hour of prayer,

when the gates are still open

and voices are expectant,

it must be known

that I am one who stays at home

to prepare a meal for

the dovaners.

I am closest to God

in the clanking of silverware,

in the rush of the kitchen faucet,

in the slicing of bread.

So, I wait for them 

to return from their distant,

serpentine journeys. 

Forgive me, 

but I am ready

to welcome them 

back home.

Rick Black, an award-winning book artist and poet, runs Turtle Light Press, a small press dedicated to poetry, handmade books and fine art prints. His poetry collection, Star of David, won an award for contemporary Jewish writing and was named one of the best poetry books in 2013. His haiku collection, Peace and War: A Collection of Haiku from Israel, has been called “a prayer for peace.” Other poems and translations have appeared in The Atlanta Review, Midstream, U.S. 1 Worksheets, Frogpond, Cricket, RawNervz, Blithe Spirit, Still, and other journals. To learn more about Rick’s work, visit: https://www.turtlelightpress.com

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Filed under American Jewry, Family history, Jewish, Jewish identity, Jewish writing, Judaism, poetry

My First Anti-Semitic Experience

by Mel Glenn (Brooklyn, NY)

Growing up in the cooling shade

of a predominantly Jewish neighborhood,

I had been totally unprepared for the

hot sun attack of anti-Semitism.

They say the first time it happens

it leaves a lasting sunburn on your skin,

and now, some 50 years later

it still singes my soul.

First time? Indiana, I was in the

bucolic fields of the Midwest.

I descended the plane and

a passenger near me said, “You Jewish?”

“Yes,” I said, dumbfounded at the question.

“Where are your horns?” he asked.

I could only manage a weak, “What”?

I had no reference point, no rebuttal,

and that lack of response

has haunted me all these years.

I have assuredly witnessed much more since,

but my silence then and failure to answer

was and is anti-Semitism accepted.

How I wish that Indiana passenger

were in front of me right now.

I believe I would know what to say.

Even with standing in the shade now

my sunburn still remains,

as indelible as the numbers

on my grandfather’s arm.

Mel Glenn, the author of twelve books for young adults, is working on a poetry book about the pandemic tentatively titled Pandemic, Poetry, and People. He has lived nearly all his life in Brooklyn, NY, where he taught English at A. Lincoln High School for thirty-one years. You can find his most recent poems in the YA anthology, This Family Is Driving Me Crazy, edited by M. Jerry Weiss. If you’d like to learn more about his work, visit: http://www.melglenn.com/

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Shabbat Dinner in Mea Shearim

by Brad Jacobson (Columbia, MO)

Crossing the road, I see four phone cords dangling down from their hooks. Rabbi Seidel, whom we met at the Wall, told us to wait on the corner by the phones. Three of us–my two friends and I–are invited for Shabbat dinner in Mea Shearim, an ultra-orthodox neighborhood. An older Hasidic man greets us and introduces himself as Rabbi Weiss. I tell him my name is Brad. He asks me my last name and where my family is originally from. I tell him, “Jacobson” and that my grandparents were from Russia and Latvia. He tells me that in Israel, people pronounce the “J” as “Y,” so it is pronounced “Yacobson.”

He leads us up a narrow street. Bearded men with black suits and fur hats and women with covered hair stroll past. No cars or buses are on the roads at the beginning of Shabbat. It could be Poland two hundred years ago. When we arrive at his house, it is full of family and guests. We sit at the table, men on one side and women on the other. Rabbi Weiss says he came to this neighborhood from Romania in 1950. He asks many questions: “What am I doing in Israel? What are my plans? What do I do in America?” He talks gently trying to forge a connection. He makes a comment that will glue itself inside of me. He says, “I do not know what you know, but you do not know what I know.”

Brad Jacobson is a volunteer every summer in Israel in the SAREL program. He teaches TESOL at the Asian Affair Center at the University of Missouri, where he has an MEd in Literacy. In the summers he enjoys exploring places with his camera like the Old City of Jerusalem, Tzfat, and the Red Sea where he scuba dives. He has been published in Tikkun, Voices Israel, Poetica, Cyclamens and Swords, and the University of Missouri International News.

“Shabbat Dinner in Mea Shearim” is from Brad’s new book, “Lionfish: The Poetic Collection Of A Traveler’s Experiences In Israel,” and reprinted here with the kind permission of the author and publisher.

Visit the link to read more of Brad’s work: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946124648/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860&linkCode=sl1&tag=beeps-20&linkId=b8e4722d77fdd5f0148ae60390d40ec2&language=en_US&fbclid=IwAR3ZBUQsla0CdU7voiaWm5FRPXzEEIglc0tuceGIUFwSsys5u14kBYEscLU

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