POEMS FOR ISRAEL, OCTOBER 2023 AND AFTER

Don Kristt, Esther Cameron, Elhanan ben-Avraham, Vera Schwartz, Ken Seide, Chana Cromer, James A. Tweedie, Brenda Appelbaum-Golani, Lois Greene Stone, Suzanne Musin, Gerald E. Greene, Ethelea Katzenell, Simon Constam, Yehudit Goldfarb, Elana Wolff, Connie S. Tettenborn, Susan Oleferuk, Hayim Abramson, Rumi Morkin, Reuven Goldfarb, Pessy Krause, Mindy Aber Barad, Ruth Fogelman, David Weiser, Michael Brownstein, Yocheved Zemel, Richard Krohn, Donna Bechar, Chana Cromer, Frank De Canio,Yaacov David Shulman, Yakov Azriel, Malka Kelter, Channah Moshe, Avril Meallem, Judy Koren, EBL, David Shaffer, L. Ward Abel, Courtney Druz, Reizel Polak, Pesach Rotem, Michele Bustin, Bob Findysz, Mark L. Levinson, Roberta Chester, Lilian Cohen, Gerald E. Greene, Eli Ben-Joseph, Ruti Eastman, Laurence Seeff, Stanley H. Barkan

Poems are approximately in the order received, so scroll down for the newest.

Don Kristt

ISRAEL AT WAR

My soul is on fire,
seething in anger,
in frustration
and helplessness;
Drifting
From place to place in darkness,
Yet it is day.
Tears of pain,
I weep,
feeling
unfathomable sadness.
Blood red drops
spill from my eyes,
a moist echo of my heart’s pain.
A heart shattered
Into 900 blood stained pieces.
My children,
My precious children,
Are we at the Akaida again?
No!
But coax me,
Urge me,
To move on,
But Hands out,
Grabbing onto the promise:
An eternal people,
A promise at creation.

We will endure!
We will heal,
And move on,
Stronger
More united
And wiser.

*

Esther Cameron

[untitled]

All the
treasures
of those lives
spilt
are pouring into my chest
which seems about
to explode
 

*

Elhanan ben-Avraham

PRAYER FOR THE ENEMY

(a war song)

 

As roaring lions overhead

thunder the skies with rage,

our eagles swarm to battle

bearing in their sharp claws

vengeance due the savage

who would devour our flesh

and savour our warm blood,

slaughtering our innocents

in orgies of religious frenzy

to their Divinity of Darkness,

carrying away our children

in arms of weeping mothers

from safety of home and bed

to fearful darkened tunnels,

 our swift eagles pour a wrath

of hot flame upon the heads

of the sons of death and dark,

terrifying the terrible terrorist,

searing a deadly dance of joy

and bloated boast to mourning,

shattering their demon dreams

and schemes to nightmares.

Y

Elhanan

10-10-23

Vera Schwartz

Don’t stand on the shores of Jaffa
                       שֶׁלֹּא יַעֲמוֹד בְּיָפוֹ וְיִזְרְקֶנָּה לַיָּם
                      
                      Kiddushin 57
 

Not possible, today anyway.

Rockets falling, enemies rejoicing
in murder of women and children.
I
f you have to set a bird—
or a soul—free, don’t do it
from the shores of Jaffa,
or cliffs facing the desert,
or inside a city. A bird
seeks the field, as we
seek salvation from
the One who guards

our nights and days alike.

*

Ken Seide

They Are All Our Loved Ones

May the One who answered Isaac, bound on the altar
Joseph, abandoned in prison
Daniel in the den of lions
be with our loved ones and answer them.
Adonai, who releases the bound, strengthen those who rescue captives.
Do it for the sake of your Torah, so that we may again celebrate the joy of your Torah.

*

Chana Cromer

Tears from heaven
from my Third Day diary

A constant light rain falls.
The sky is grey.
We go out to get some air
to the stupendous view of the promenade.
It is deserted.
The wind is wild, blowing sticks and leaves into our faces.
Over the gold dome of Al Aqsa and the temple mount
a grey mist blots out the details.
The weather is wild, out of control,
like our reality.
A reel of horrifying details scrolls before our eyes,
hour by hour.
A whipping dry wind pulls at our coats.
It is too sad to look at the view.
I can't stand to be out.
I want to go home.


*

James A. Tweedie

A Psalm of Lament

So says the Lord: A voice is heard on high, lamentation, bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, she refuses to be comforted for her children for they are not. Yirmiyahu 31:14 

In Israel a voice was heard,
Lament and bitter weeping.
For Rachel’s heart was cruelly stirred,
For death had come a-sweeping.
A plague of locusts, Baal’s flies;
No lintel blood could spare her child.
For how could she restrain her cries
When terror laughed and evil smiled.
O God, King of the Universe,
Your Word is Law, your arm is strong,
You promised blessing, but a curse
Has traded righteousness for wrong.
How shall we sing a psalm of praise?
Your Holy Name with joy adore?
In grief we grieve these grievous days,
For Rachel’s children are no more.

*

Brenda Appelbaum-Golani

Questions - a poetic embrace for Israel - October 2023

For the sake of my brothers and sisters
For the sake of my friends, missing, or worse
Should I remain silent?
Or, should I scream?
Shriek? Yell from the highest hill?
Or, maybe write a poem, in elegant elegiac style?
After their release from the death camps, from
pogroms in war-torn sick Europe,
poets asked: Is it permitted to write about atrocities,
when not all the dead have been buried, counted,
when not all the names have been gathered, recorded?
Will poetry minutely blur good and evil?
Will it unwittingly glorify the murderers?
One poet, a soldier for the wrong side,

until he was imprisoned, wrote of a famous statue,
"Is this a monument to heroism, or to brutality?"
Did these poets foresee, that some 80 years on,
Infants, mothers, grey-haired Holocaust survivors
would be slaughtered or dragged from their homes
into Gazan captivity, victims of hate-crimes
just for being Jews in Israel?
Tell me, how should we mourn the loss of these innocents,
How should we mourn, when our hearts feel
heavier than lead bullets?
      Our souls swing between anger and despair
      Breathe in these questions, hanging in the air

 *

Lois Greene Stone

Tears, and tears ripping black cloth

 

Bubby, long drive

be my car buddy

by phone.  Bubby,

waiting in airport

be my text buddy.

Bubby: I’m in a

bomb shelter.

Text with me please.

Granddaughter

wanted sukkot

in Israel.  Joyful.

First flight alone,

frightened then.

First bomb shelter,

missiles screaming

in the sky, fright

became terror, for

herself and our people.

Our people.  My lifetime

growing up during the

last World War hearing

in America “how come

the gas chambers missed

you” as I rode a green

bicycle in the neighborhood.

Did these young boys grow

up to be radicals spewing

hate for other Americans

who prayed on Saturdays?

Prayer.  Hate based on

nothing.  But nothing

under the sun is new.

Will Hashem cry salty

tears for the innocents?

 

*

Suzanne Musin

"Seven Sirens"

And she will tell you—if you ask

about the man behind the mask

that he is ready—he is strong—

because you think that she was wrong

but I can see them both revolving

‘round a wall that keeps dissolving—

Now a candle falls upon

the map that shows where lines were drawn—

and here a chimney—there the stones

a hearth for holding human bones.

I do not think that you will see

your way around the calumny—

One damn hour in utter silence

AAnd another filled with violence

In the street where children play

stands a sea. We march today—

Bar the windows. Lock the door.

Lay her back onto the floor—

You may love your son and daughter

(even as you see them slaughter)

What he loves best is the sound

of her blood spilled on the ground—

 

*

 

Gerald E. Greene

 

I Am Hatred

I am hatred
Seared with the heat of animus
Full of vile's sweet juice
Sprinkled with the spice of contempt
Waiting to be ingested by weakness

I am hatred
Void of sensitivity
Blind to acts against humanity
Deaf to words of reconciliation
Speak only the language of terror
Unable to smell the essence of peace

I am hatred
Unwilling to bend the knee of humility
Unable to offer kindness
Afraid of peace
Compelled to destruction

I am hatred
Fixated on revenge
Pleased with suffering
Delighted with savagery
Refreshed by the blood of women and babies

I am hatred
Look at what I do
Learn from who I am
Embrace or be embraced
Reject the cesspool called "middle ground"
Endorse my heart of vanity
Victimize the one who turns away

I am hatred
Let me live with you
Allow my passion through your door
Breathe my fragrance of retribution
Kiss my lips and taste the still-warm blood of the innocent

*

 

Ethelea Katzenell

 

Under fire in Beer-Sheva

The blood-curdling sirens sound.
My sprinting legs take me to shelter.
Hearts pounding, we wait for the booms.
Count one, another, more…

Missiles strike the ground,
The building rattles and shakes.
Missiles get blasted in the air,
Explosive noise is heard and echoes.

Then quiet tense suspense.
We mark the passing minutes.
Look! We've survived yet again!
Wait! What do I hear now?

Maybe an ambulance or fire-engine.
Is everyone else OK out there?
Quick—call them to be sure.
Let's go home and put on the news.

 

*

 

Simon Constam

 

October 2023

I think I suppressed a lot
during my week in Israel just ended.
My anger, my helplessness,
my emptiness, my desire to write
as a way to do something.
The whole week
I was unable
to read poetry,
unable to write.

It was the unholy feeling
of trying to flee,
not wanting to flee,
feeling the need to flee,
wanting to assure my wife
that I would make it home,
feeling the pain of being Jewish,
wanting to be more Jewish,
worried that my children need me
to explain things to them,
even now in their adulthood,
to explain the world to them
in ways that make sense.

Though I cannot do so.

How cruel it is to be a Jewish parent
in this world that hates Jews.

This world hates Arabs too.

How we struggle to be the less hated;
how we have been obsequious ourselves
in the hopes that we will find acceptance
in the world. So few understand that
Israel came to be because our forebears were fed up with seeking acceptance. They were determined, we still are,
to assert ourselves as not needing
the acceptance of others. This is why it is our hope that Israel will eradicate Hamas from the face of the earth
without harming a hair
on the head of an innocent.

This is a world which hates so many
others too. It is a world in which
I want to be one of us, my people,
not sought out for death.
So often, I have departed for
greener places. I am willing
to take the suffering now.

This is a world whose pleasures
never seem to be enough
to balance the scales.
I have accepted that.

*

 

Yehudit Goldfarb

 

Rumbling Above

The rumble of planes hits the heart at its core.
There is a war, hot and bloody in the South.
Most overhead planes rumble toward the North.
Protecting? Attacking? Deterring?
Their circling causes the caring heart to stay awake.
Numbness is not an option. I hear a strange sound
and notice fear peeking out from behind a thin veil.
Reason sends her back into hiding. No sirens here.
No murderous invaders banging on doors,
riddling cars with bullets, dragging captives
from a living Hell into the unimaginable.
Tears flow. Reason cannot stop them, welcomes them.
Warm rivulets line both cheeks. Sobs are close by.
Yes, I am alive. I am grateful for my life,
my freedom, for the rumblings from above
that I pray will maintain and expand the safety zone,
and for the aching heart and flowing tears
that keep me human.

 

*

 

Elana Wolff

 

When We Reach the Other

end of the exit
we’ll emerge
upright.
Communities and lives will be revived.
What we know of love
will guide us surely in the work,
our hands and faces
cloaked in dust, swords
transformed to ploughshares.

You’ll find me near the eucalyptus
waiting for you
like fate—metaphor for faith.
Even if the stars are swept from the sky.
Even if the moon is a wounded
gibbous riddled with holes.
I’ll be standing
where once I sat—on a crate of Eureka
lemons marked for export.
We won’t give in
to hate and terror,
                             ever.

 

*

 

Connie S. Tettenborn

 

To Israel From Afar

A television broadcast shrinks
the thousands of miles between us,
but it does not let me hold the hands
of children to calm their fears or
embrace the grieving parents of
innocent concertgoers.
I can contribute to relief agencies
but cannot provide what may be
most needed: a salve for Israel's soul
that will ease the pain; a bandage
for broken hearts to cover the wounds
of loss and guard against infection--
the spread of false rumors;
a balm from the Book to speed
the healing of terrorized minds.
May these things be provided by
a Higher Power. I can only add a prayer
to that same Power for a lasting peace
and offer the assurance that Israel
is not alone.

 

*

 

Susan Oleferuk

Blue Skies in New York

 

It’s complicated I read

there are gray areas, nothing is black and white,

examine the context exhorts the media in their hope to please all

 

A young woman and I watched our dogs play under a blue autumn sky in New York

she worried about her child

is there any gray in killing a child, any child we wondered

is there any gray in entering the homes of the elderly and taking their final days

is there any gray in raping women

 

I have many reasons to rob a bank

I can name ten good reasons for me to get my hands on money I desperately need

I will never rob a bank, nor will most people

nor will they rape women or kill babies, children or the old

there is no gray, for good people radiate colors

 like the sun warming the forest floor and lakes and streams

chicanery is the gray face of those who blame and never progress

 

I saw a lot of gray in New York on another autumn day under another blue sky

gray filled lower Manhattan in a cloak of illness and wounding

there was no rightness to it

Now from far away, in fact, I do see a little gray

in the images of men in the streets carrying dead and wounded children

and I wonder where are the women who bore these children

how easily the oppressor cries oppressed

we all are lessened by this.

 

*

 

Hayim Abramson

Beit El

 

[untitled]

 

once i had a dream
now i have none left in me
I sleep far better
but He Who probes underneath
knows that I did not give up

I took a picture
to share a pretty garden
with my family
it made us to realize
beauty around the corner

early this morning
I saw your smile and baby's
the sun through the clouds

 

*

 

Rumi Morkin

 

Victims of war


So many lives
brutally cut down

So many burials
filling this sacred earth

So many families
in never-ending grief.

A sorrow so great
that even the sky weeps

Tears stream down my window panes
dark clouds wear mourning

Tall palms sway in prayer
the wind sighs in lamentation

The air is heavy with a sadness.
time has yet to soften.
                                          16.10.23
 

*

 

Elhanan ben-Avraham

 

“The Israelis love life, but we love death.”

-a Hamas spokesman

 

TO LIFE!

L’Chaim!

N

Savage sons of a dark Divinity 

clad in blackness chant their cry

for love of Death in craving hope

for celestial brothels in the sky

rewarded not to live but die

in marching ranks arrayed to slay

the waiting gathered sons of Life

 armed in force to accommodate

the craven hope in the day of fight

to taste the fire and fearful fate

of Joshua and David’s burning sword

to grant them their desired reward

in Gehinnom’s dark eternal night,

as we cling to hope of Life and Light!

Y

EbA

16-10-23

 

 

*

 

Reuven Goldfarb

 

PRAYING FOR RAIN

 

Listening to the rumble of fighter jets,

the way you listen to thunder,

anticipating the first drops of rain,

but they’re dropping bombs, not rain,

though we’re dutifully, yearningly, praying,

Mashiv haRuach u-moreed haGeshem —

“You cause the wind to blow and the rain to fall.”

 

I rise in the dawn.  It is too late to go to shul,

though I discovered my tefillin in my night table drawer

a few hours ago, and packed my bag in preparation.

My wife came to bed late and remains asleep.

I can only begin a poem, scribbling the first few lines

by the light of a salt crystal lamp,

hoping I can read them later.  

*

 

Pessy Krausz

pessykrausz@gmail.com

 

Call Up in Israel on Shabbat Simchat Torah            

 

Just Gritting My Teeth...

 

This is no story tall.

 

Grandson’s called up,

to the army he goes

from Yeshiva, where he’s learning,

in his Shabbat clothes

on Simchat Torah. Stops singing.

Not long ago, that sweet gentle lad

Sat on my knee, always clad

In cottony clothes, for kicking around

A soft little ball, making hardly a sound.

Quick!! His dad fast drives down South

To his lad, now in base,

Takes warm woolly hat, vests, scarves,

pyjamas.

 

Just Gritting My Teeth…

 

But that’s far from all.

 

My older grandson, to the manner born

That Shabbat gave a D’Var Torah

Words of wisdom from our Holy Scroll

His wifey’s hand holding,

Her shining eyes gazing

at him – she adores!

Balloon burst their bubble – with rockets above

To North he’s called up – Quick sharp

Barely time for a hug,

While tears there’s no stopping - never been apart

 

Just Gritting My Teeth…

 

Even that’s not quite all.

 

With sirens high screaming, rockets clang, kids call

Come, Grandma, Quick! To the shelter come down

My footsteps not steady, my knee’s feeling bad

All this on my birthday, Simchat Torah’s Shabbat!

The shelter’s a reminder of a childhood badly scarred

My escape from Nazis, race against their barrage

When Iron Dome’s sonic-like horrendous boom

as though shot me ceiling-ward, to the sky, up and down.

Shoulders, back, arms legs shaking quite involuntarily.

All hugging, stroking grandma, Never seen you panicky...

Slowly calmed down. No dears. It’s no panic attacking

It’s shell shock from childhood, never since expressed

Now war again, scars re-opened, to trauma regressed

Just Gritting My Teeth…

 

This is no tall story

 

Now, Savta Omi,

(that's what they call me)

We see that somehow you’ve calmed down.

And here in this shelter we’re all in for now

For some time, who knows when will cease.

Cannot muster a smile. We’re tense, ill at ease

So here’s an idea,

For you grandma dear

Maybe you’ll give us all a surprise,

Share with us your Yoga exercise.

 

Just Gritting My Teeth…

 

Here’s the real story

 

My eyes, I close.

My hand on my knees

My breath’s deep and slow

Close your eyes I suggest.

Gently together rub, warming hands,

Place them over eyes,

Count to five, hold breath,

Count to five. Breath out soft, slowly

Releasing hands, gently open your eyes.

Gently together rub, warming hands,

Place on ears, count slowly to five

Breath in soft slow breath, hold, count to five,

Breath out soft slow breath, release hands

Place gently on knees,

Slowly turn head to the right, count five ….

My voice soft and low, warm brownly hue lulls

My Yoga-Riters into hypnotic like trance …

Repeat on and on we barely hear the next bomb

And Never Again do I Jump.

  

Just Gritting My Teeth…

 

Here’s the saddest story

 

The news all appals

Countless young lives rent down

The count is uncountable, figures keep rising

Rising, rising, like in my throat there’s a stone

And another, another, like building a wall

Round Jerusalem, while my country’s been raped,

Its innocence torn from my childhood love

As for so many others. While some gave up their life.

This trauma, unlike others, yet too will be treated

And we’ll rise from the ashes, a Phoenix

Bruised, scarred, uniting at last, never, ever defeated.

 

Stand your own ground

 by Pessy Krausz 10th October 2023 email  pessykrausz@gmail.com

 

My dear grandson

Precious, sweet one,

Watched you grow up.

Ever taller, broad shouldered,

Yet with modest stoop.

Only now, just learning

To stand your own ground.

 

Noshing cookies - mother’s delicacies

When her back’s turned

Pops in another! But grandmother sees!!

Called up!

“Take biscuits!” shaped like crescent moon,

Which waxes then wanes - all too soon

To stand our own ground.

 

Piano you play, never before heard

fingers tinkle ‘Fur Elise’ like yours.

Why now stop?

Call Up!

My young grandson,

Off to base in the south

To stand his own ground.

 

Hard awork at your station,

bent on saving our nation

from even greater disaster,

from rape of our country.

Your eyes on the screen,

to which you are glued

A hero unsung.  Like you,

hundreds others

Stand their own ground.

 

Thirty three pairs of socks

not enough for my contingent,

says grandson from his base in the north.

Need mattresses, batteries, underwear, scarves,  

Need I say more? Yes Tzizit galore

Fringes placed on corners four

Our protection they are

our own human shield

These too are what we need …. to

Stand our own ground.

 

We turn to our heroes for comfort and inspiration

Not only for mind, but for soul’s consolation.

Let’s hear Rabbi Sacks, so dear and lamented.

‘Are we telling a story? No! We’re writing a chapter.’

And said Sivan Rahav-Meir, brilliant media personality.

‘Israel will never be the same. No! It will be better’

Echoes of the past can surely imbue us

With strength and determination

To stand or own ground – on our Own Ground

 

*

 

Mindy Aber Barad

 

The Last Nectarine of the Season

 

I

In the last hour

Of the second day

Of the new month

I dare

To eat a nectarine

The last of its kind

This is the way

Its world ends

Several bites

In less than 90 seconds

Plenty of time

To get to the shelter

At the next siren.

 

II

I don’t want to dwell on it

The war

The boys

The 90 seconds.

Each war tugs on me

Just a little more

First one, then two,

Now three generations

I am ripped apart

When I think

Of my descendants

Eating fruit

Beneath descending missiles.

Until the next season.

 

*

 

David Weiser

 

591.
Was it the will of heaven
    Or mere coincidence?
       I won't presume to say.

When shouts of ugly strife
   From loud and foolish factions
      Wore down our inner strength,

The flow of our blood
   In a barbarous attack
      Brought all our power back.


592.
A net is spread around us,
   But we are not aware
      Of its transparent lines.

Like a flowering rose
   As the clinging vine shoots up
      And soon chokes off its life;

Like a wandering fly
   Caught in a hidden web
      As the spider pulls it tight.


593.
And now another war,
   Another wave of death,
      Comes crashing on our shore.

The sea of violence
   Swells and overflows
      Our strand of common sense,

And raging floods release
   A roar that overwhelms
      The feeble voice of peace.

 

*

 

Ruth Fogelman

 

Iron Swords 2023

 

How did the joy of Simhat Torah suddenly turn to grief?

The jubilant dancing with the Torah scrolls stopped.

In mid-song, a young man felt a tap on the shoulder

“Come on, brother, we have to go…” said with a nod

towards the open door.

“Call up – waiting van outside….”

Barely time to fold the tallit.

 

In Gaza: hostages: infants, elderly, the infirm.

In the Land: roaming children cry for their parents, now dead.

Volunteers up all night – digging, digging, digging fresh graves.

The names of the fallen announced on the news:

soldiers, civilians, Bedouin, Arabs, mostly Jews –

is this my loved one? My neighbor?

 

The wailing sirens: “Quick, quick – to our “safe room!”

Huddled in a corner of our secure space

our little ones cling to our arms.

Ear-splitting booms: Iron Dome blocks missiles, rockets.

Our pet dog under the bed wimpers in fear.

 

Lord, grant peace to Your people, Your Land

Oh G-d, may Your light shine.

 

*

 

Estelle Gershgoren Novak

 

The Terrible Present

Their world today
Is nothing but an old coat
lying in tatters
with blood stains.

One day ago
her belly was swelling.
A new life was
scheduled to arrive.

Today she is torn open
blood leaks from her body

Yesterday he had a name
a sister and a dog
He was going to be five
in two days.

Today they burned him alive
with sister, dog,
mother and father
He will never be five.

The sparrows are dead
The hawks hover above
They see blood
And, well instructed in terror,
know all about killing.

The sparrows,
whose songs awakened them
on mornings last spring,
are now all dead.

All they have is
a tattered coat
with blood stains.

*

 

Michael Brownstein

 

A Crime Without Meaning

Ugly is the darkness before the mouth of Hell
glazed not with hope, but ignorance and evil:

Do you really find a way into heaven on a baby's murder,
a pregnant woman's torture, a child hostage?

A surprise attack, a great number dead, 
already too many wounded, too many maimed.

This is not the way of Rosh Hashanah.
the promised of a better world prayed for on Yom Kippur.

Once I saved a gangbanger from his comrade in arms.
It made a difference. It made him morally stronger.

Where is the hope to thrive? Continue? Become better?
Out of the ashes of a holocaust came a dream.

Now, once again, hate brings us to the bowels of Hell,
its shadows threatening, but with our prayers,

our hopes, our love, our empathy, we will survive,
each breath of life another miracle, another end to evil.
 

*

 

Yocheved Miriam Zemel

 

After the Shock

 

Going from room to room

in the burnt-out cottage

searching for my mother

visions of her sitting in her light blue housecoat

on her mustard  lounge chair in the corner of the living room

And she was gone.

 

My hands dry and blackened

from the soot and ashes all over

the smell of burnt wood.

I tried to assimilate the scene

My phone blared, “beware of terrorists,”

gasping for air, I escaped to her beloved garden

filled with the plants she loved

geraniums, chrysanthemums, wandering jews.

 

Looking down I found her inert body on the soil

between the flowers, bloody, burnt

wearing her  stained blue housecoat

holding a bag of bamba* for her grandchildren

on her way to my brother’s home

no pulse, no breath, stained with blood.

 

No time to  mourn. My phone alarm summoned me to help others.

Mechanically, I ran back to the rubble of the scorched house

found a hidden blanket

wrapped her as tears streamed down my face

kissed her lifeless cheek

left her there awaiting my return.

 

After the shock I went from house to house

searching for survivors

striving  to assimilate my mother’s death

to comfort myself.

Her suffering is behind her

but my pain persists.

 

 

*a popular snack

Richard Krohn

Sentence

For Larry, now in Tel Aviv

 

It’s finally come full circle, Israel, you, and I

all born postwar, those primary days in Jersey,

 

crayons and air raid drills, late afternoons

at the J.C.C. sliding dimes into blue-white tins

 

to fruit the Negev, we, ignorant to our own chants,

to that alphabet read right to left, vowels below

 

like punctuation, to the lore of peoples and places,

Philistines and Phoenicians, how the Jordan ran

 

sea to sea, Galilee to Dead, the lowest place on Earth,

history and myth in tales of cruelty and pushback,

 

thus the holidays, Maccabees and their freedom fight,

before them the flight from slavery to Promised Land

 

where you have now retired to embrace not just

modern Hebrew, Israel’s waters and ascents of land,

 

Hebron and Golan, but also how sirens mean fleeing

to shelter, today’s tribal attacks and massacres

 

as if lifted from Scripture, its lessons in ways  

to survive by raining plagues on the Other,

 

any except the 10th, the deaths of children –

survival by any means except another diaspora

 

because there’s nowhere left to go.


 

Donna Bechar

 

Siren at Noon (Oct 23)

 

Afterwards, the woman in the penthouse across

The street sweeps, then mops the balcony floor

Her blouse a bright orange, shorts white

Her Beagle follows her back and forth, then

Back inside through the open sliding glass door

 

She’s sweeping and washing and wiping, and

Watering the three hanging plants

An hour later, still doing doing doing, as two

Parrots prettily perch on the terrazzo wall,

Their color mirroring that of the plants

 

An hour and a half has passed - she still sweeps

And washes - how long does it take for a narrow

Length of balcony floor, an expanse of glass door

 

But I do understand

Choose a chore, whose repetition strokes you,

Lulls you, sweeps your mind

Of what’s come out from under the carpet

 

She finally sits on the one chair there

Left arm resting on the armrest, hand

Against her face - is she on the phone

If so, perhaps with a relative or friend

Who lives down south

If not, is she contemplating what

She has tried to sweep away

 

She sits there, facing me, who sits facing her

In my expanse of living room, on my soft

Blue sofa, with coffee, watching, swiping

Through events – mind doing doing,

Already having vacuumed parquet floor,

Dusted marble-topped buffet

Shelved with travelogue memorabilia,

Wiped crumbs from kitchen floor

 

Good chores, to help sweep my mind

 

*

Chana Cromer 

 

My children

 

My people, my little children

My beautiful young women and men

Each so, so, so beautiful, each a spear in my heart

When you strip them naked, my heart is exposed

When you shoot them, it pierces my brain

When you shove and jeer at them in the streets, my soul twists

They are my body, they are my life's blood

1400 plus 200 plus 280 plus, plus, plus

Every few minutes another face

Each a beautiful terrible story

Each another wrenching heartbreak

We cannot count this way

We don't count by hundreds

and not by tens

We count: 

One, plus one, plus one, plus one,

Plus one

 

                               Sunday, Day 9

 

 

Frank de Canio

 

Pillaging Plants

A prudent prophet once said that the fruit
doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Indeed
I just wonder what noxious twisted roots
were generating masticating weed
deemed capable of triggering that grave
transformation of mead to battlefield.
The former’s not groomed for strife, but to save
itself for flourishing, propitious yield.
A wise man once opined that from their fruits
you shall know them. Indeed, I now fear why
this tree exfoliated bloody shoots
and severed heads beneath a mackerel sky,
pregnant with funerals to come. It breeds
like creeping vines along a fertile route
that strangulates their witless prey and bleeds
the sap from out budding shoots poised to sprout.
Suggesting caustic carnivores, they leave
behind a plundered gathering to grieve.

 

*

 

Elhanan ben-Avraham

(on the alleged hospital bombing)

 

JURY TRIAL

The Press’s jury was in a hurry

to vent their long and pent-up fury

and prosecute the violated

to exonerate who instigated,

and swiftly hang before the facts

might clarify whose wicked pacts

had perpetrated the heinous acts,

to perpetuate the preconcept

of black as white

& wrong as right!

Y

 

*

 

Esther Marcus

[untitled]

 

The Angel of death knocked on my door.
He tapped on my window,
dipped his fingers into my food.
Ran his nails across my spine.
I saw his reflection in the mirror
"Not today Esther, not today"
He moved on dancing his distorted dance, roaring his evil laugh.
He rounded up my neighbours, Nachal Oz, Beeri, Nir Oz, Kfar Azza,
filling his pockets with children, stuffing men, women, families into his backpack.
He smiled his croocked smile at the soldiers who fought him and swooped them up with his fist.
And I watched him go, discarding the shells of the souls he had taken.
He turned and waved
"Not today Esther, not today"

 

*

 

Yaacov David Shulman


October 8
from the book of Psalms (my translation)
83. A song,
a tune of Asaf.
God, do not be silent,
Do not be still,
God, do not stay mute,
Because in fact
Your enemies are roaring,
And Your foes are lifting up their heads.
They are scheming and conspiring against Your people,
They are conniving against the people Whom You protect.
They say:
“Let us go
And destroy them so that they will no longer be a nation,
So that the name of Israel
Will never be mentioned again,”
They have agreed with one heart,
They have formed a pact against You:
The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
Moab and Hagrim,
G’vul, Ammon and Amalek,
The Palestinians and the inhabitants of Tyre.
And Assyria has also joined them,
They have become the strong arm
Of the children of Lot.
Do to them what You did to Midian,
To Sissera, to Yavin
At the Kishon Stream.
They were destroyed at Ein-Dor,
They were dung upon the ground.
Make their mighty ones
Like the crow and the fox,
Make all their princes
Like Zevach and Tzalmuna,
Who had said,
“We will take the fields of God
As our own.”
God, make them like the tumbleweed,
Like the chaff before the wind.
Like a fire destroying a forest
And like flames engulfing the mountains,
Pursue them with Your storm,
Harrow them with your whirlwind.
Fill their faces with disgrace
So that they will seek Your Name, O God,
So that they will be ashamed and confused forever,
So that they will be mortified and disappear,
And the world will know
That You, Your Name is Being!,
Are unique,
You are higher than the entire universe.

October 10
You can’t repair the world without
Demanding a body. (It takes courage.)
It’s what forces us to pray,
One day even, from this edge,

To sing. To emerge from
This grave, to bring along our bodies.
(We’re forced to fight, to descend
From our gracious reveries.)

 


October 14

(There they were again: the women
Who yesterday were proud because
Their sons were martyrs were wailing for
The cameras.) Higher laws,


Knowable, unknowable.
What we do not understand
We feel. The will to live embodies
The lights of heaven from the sand.


October 16
The one God has many names
(The many Jews have many names.
They are the names of God, the tower
Of light, today a tower of flames.)

The beginning of the names
Is “peace.” The meaning of the end
Is war. Peace recalls a river,
War distracts, seeks to rend.

The unity of evil men
Is the source of war. They call
Across the globe, they are glad
To destroy and appall.

October 19
The names connect us. Through them, to
The infinite source. Through them, all
Of us exist. “I call to them
To stand together.” Some names crawl


Into the slime, they appall.
Bring us back to light, call us
By our names, return us to
Our home, to our tremulous


Possessions. “None will take away
Anything of yours. None
Will cross your border.” (Send the husks
Deeply to oblivion.)

October 21
“My people shall never be ashamed.”
We’re ashamed to imagine—but we do—
Our shame itself says, “Ask
For the end of those who want to kill you.”

October 22
I want the secrets of the world.
I want their letters, apothegms,
Their shapes, their mellifluity,
To toil to find their theorems,


Their pleasantness, their light, and their
Salvation. To rise, and with me raise
The world and souls, to hold on to
A soul that sets the light ablaze.

October 24
We’ve been eaten. We’ve been consumed.
We are the bottom of the line.
At the top, we can hear,
We can see, the start of a sign.

October 27
Sleep is knowing that the nightmare is real
And light is spinning away, and higher.
What a broken road of ruins.
Where is morning, the unifier?

*

 

Yakov Azriel

THE SHIBBOLETH OF WAR

"Outdoors the sword shall bereave, and indoors — dread …" (Deuteronomy 32:25)

 

We cannot sleep, for dreams are filled with dread

Of what we fear the most — the shibboleth

Of war, the eightieth, the ninetieth,

The hundredth time we dream our sons are dead.

Each night we dream the monster lifts her head

Above our soldiers' open graves; each breath

She breathes is rank with death — our children's death;

Her mouth is red with blood our sons have bled.

 

We shudder as we cry for help, O Lord,

Against the monster's fangs, without a shred

Of hope our children can survive her claws,

Unless You beat her polished, two-edged sword

Into a ploughshare's tarnished blade instead;

For she is War, the mother of all wars.

 

 

 THE BURNING BUSH

“An angel of the Lord appeared unto him [Moses] in a flame of fire in the midst of the bush; he looked — and behold, the bush is burning with fire, yet the bush is not consumed.” (Exodus 3:2)

 

 How high the flames flare up!  The bush is doomed

To die by fire, for how can it survive

The blaze and heat?  How can it stay alive?

Yet look — the burning bush is not consumed.

The flames do not despair, but have resumed

Their war upon the stubborn bush and strive

To scorch it all; but then the leaves revive,

A verdant green — not charred, not singed, not fumed.

 

And Israel, who wilts before the heat and flame

Of hate that yearns to burn alive each child,

Mother and father upon the stake and pyre —

Will Israel survive?  If only the same

Angel might come to shield her from these wild,

Ferocious flames in furnaces of fire!

 *

Don Kristt

Day 14 of the War: Awakenings (The challenge of Amalek)

Awakened by a rumble overhead,
somewhere beyond my vision.
Continuing now for many hours.
Engines of destruction
defending our homeland,
our children,
everything we love and know.
But at what sacrifice,
our humanity?
This double-edged sword,
Must we grasp its hilt?
Oh, dear God,
end this nightmare.

Awakened by the empty counsel
of the world: restraint is needed,
I hear.
Cries for humanitarian concerns;
a trap!
Our moral standing is attacked.
How could that be?
We were pre-empted,
brutally attacked, massacred.
Restraint?
We must believe in ourselves,
But, indeed,
we must take moral responsibility
For the antecedent
fracturing of our nation.
We are healing now;
maintain the inertia;
strengthen our bonding,
our unity of purpose,
our sense of common destiny,
our recognition,
finally,
that we are one people.
Now unified, empowered,
We must strike,
destroy a dreadful enemy;
expunge from the world
this cynical,
irredeemable evil,
this Amalek reincarnate.

Awaken to a new dawn.
Bless the dawn
for its potential
for renewal,
for life and tranquility;
still a small consolation,
for a troubled creation.
 
 

Malka Kelter – Two Poems

 

Surreal Sunday

 

Back from India

first flight out he could get

while planes were still coming in.

 

We collect the items he requested

make sure to shlep his heavy duffel bag

stuffed with soldier and medic equipment

search through bags and drawers

in his childhood bedroom

bring anything that might be of use

borrow or buy whatever is missing

try to imagine what a hungry soldier might want to share

with his waiting comrades-in-arms.

 

Standing in the Arrivals Hall

many other passengers also carry trekkers’ backpacks.

I try to imagine what he looks like after two months away.

 

There he is!

I run to him and give him a long hug

it’s not easy to pull away, and make room for Abba.

 

In the parking lot it’s time to repack and rearrange

the items he needs to take with him

and leave behind what’s not for this mission.

 

Waze directs us to his Army base

traffic increases as we approach the site

soldiers tell us to pull over

a bus will come by soon to take him the last stretch.

 

He gets out of the car

steps out of his trekking pants

steps into his green uniform

prepared to do the job he came for.

 

The bus arrives

the soldier walks up the steps

and off into his future.

 

May G-d protect them all

so they can return safely.

 

 

Laundry Story

 

So many people are volunteering these days

coming up with countless ways to help those

who have left their homes behind

evacuated to safer environs.

 

We also want to do our part

to contribute to the valiant efforts.

Neighbors send out a notice:

laundry needs to be done for families from the South.

 

We receive the bag of laundry

empty out the clothes

dump it all in the washing machine

no time to separate the dark and white loads.

 

We go about our business

the machine washes, rinses, spins

we pay no attention to whatever is going through the cycle

we load the dryer so everything will dry quickly.

 

And as we fold the laundry, we notice

two identical pink dresses, two identical yellow dresses,

two identical green jerseys, four pairs of matching white tights

and we imagine the twins who like to wear the same clothes.

 

And then we see a solitary sock

big enough for a toddler’s foot

red and white stripes

the twins’ baby sister.

 

We return the bag to the neighbors

thinking about the sweet sisters.

It’s not the same to hear news reports

as it is to see the little girls’ clothes.

*

 

Channah Moshe

 

from flood to falcon

28.10.2023

 

after the flood

of our tears

the world we once knew

although evaporated

will crystalize

from this devastation

 

as the fallen falcon

flutters its wings

so our voices

in harmonized unison

will plead for the hostages

beckon for the safe return

of all our loved soldiers

supplicate for the

full recovery

of family

friends and

others

and pray for a government

that loves the country

placing the people’s welfare

above

all else

fearing

none other

than the Almighty above

 

*

 

Chana Cromer

An enlightened world
 
And we thought we lived in an enlightened world
Every shade of gender, honored
Every color of skin, brothers
But the Jew remains hated
For after all hate must remain.
 
The mob says let us concentrate all that vitriol on the Jew
His heart can be cut out
His angelic offspring are butcher's meat
Humiliate his lovely daughters, rape them and push them through the jeering crowd
Why? Because they are Jews
Creatures of a different nature
human targets, or maybe let's say, less than human.
 
You there in the mob, look in the mirror
Look at the burning hate in your eyes
What have you become?
 
My parents survived the horrors of the holocaust
They lost their parents and so many loved ones
They were starved and kept like animals in concentration camps.
Yet they raised us in joy, not in hate,
They raised us in joy, not in despair, not in anger.
They didn't wait 70 years to live a life.
They took life into their hands, they worked, they loved
They raised us in dance and laughter
 
We looked out at others
less fortunate and wanted freedom and justice for them –
for our black American friends,  
for those discriminated against,
for the oppressed of other nations,
we believed all were deserving of equality.
We knew how cruel man could be to man.
What happened? When did we again become the hated? Was it always there? I was so unaware.
 
In our global society that lives on slogans,
on four-word messages that
serve the mob that doesn't look at history,
That knee jerk reacts to propaganda
That doesn't understand complexity,
And that doesn't look for the facts.
 
I've learned that
after all,
the Jew is dispensable.
 
*

Avril Meallem

 

We Stand Before You

 

My King, Creator of all

I weep from the very essence of my being

– remember us!

 

Your cycle of nature continues to turn

birds sing their morning song

flower buds open up their glory

rain falls and the wind blows

all seemingly oblivious to our suffering.

 

You brought the world into existence

and formed mankind to be your partner

to use the gifts You blessed us with:

hands… feet… language… music… colours

everything with which to be creators too.

 

But so many have turned against You

destroyed that which You created

used the tools You blessed us with

for cruelty and devastation.

 

We stand before You now, a nation in pain

and humbly acknowledge that alone we cannot prevail.

 

Your servants bow their heads in shame

– we have sinned, betrayed Your love.

 

Help us return to your fold, gather in your flock

bring us into Your palace – we have suffered for so long.

 

Let the true spirit within each of us shine out to the world

become examples of love and compassion, humility and morality;

a shining light in the prevailing darkness.

 

Almighty G-d, in our distress and with one voice

we humbly cry out – we need You now.

Your world needs You now.

 *

Suzanne Musin

 An Interview

Where does the truth go when you speak? 
Is it hiding in shelters, breathing and waiting
as strange feet step inside a home? 
Did you set it on fire? Has it suffocated
from smoke still breaching down below?
Did you send it lower, down a ladder, 
through a spider’s web of concrete walls, 
and bury it there with a blanket? 
Or was it burnt on the grass outside,
all turned to a brittle shell of ashes 
that caught up with a curling wind, 
past blackened cars and discolored streets
to lift a grey ruin upon our skies?
When you're silent, does it beat inside you?

*

Judy Koren

Perhaps

An elegy for Judih Weinstein of Nir Oz

Perhaps a woman and her husband, out

walking in the calm of early dawn

paused, hearing noises on the morning air,

 

a burst of gunfire, an anguished shout;

exchanged a glance, perhaps, then thought to warn

their sleeping grandchildren, raced back to where

 

their house had stood but half an hour before

a horde of devils plunged us into war.

Are they among those we already mourn

or were they dragged away, perhaps, and borne

 

as hostages  to Gaza in a jeep?

We do not know, may never know their fate,

we only know that help arrived too late,

we only know that while we win, we weep.

*

Lois Greene Stone

“Never again are meaningless words”
 
"Can't happen here; no it can't happen here.
this isn’t Canaan, this town is mine;
can't happen here; it just won't happen here,
countries today treat its Jews just fine."
May Laws, 1881, Russia robbed rights for Jews.
Britain's White Paper 1939 revoked Balfour Declaration.
Latvia November 1941; 1992; Aizsargi help round-up Jews
Vandal-charred torahs were buried in soil
December in nineteen sixty-eight.
Shaaray Tefila, a Queens synagogue
set fire year later;  hate; so hate.
 
Government blames the unrest on all Jews!
Poland, March 1969.  Headline could be 
any year any place.  But we had a homeland
beginning 1948: all welcome.

 
May, 1939, some Jews escaped Europe
aboard the Saint Louis sailing ship
Cuba refused, then America too, death 
waited back in Europe.  Round trip 

 
"can't happen here, oh, and never again"
pre-Haman, post Hitler, words we spew,
"civilized man doesn't scapegoat today"
but under the sun there's nothing new.

 
Hamas orders violence October 2023
in the Jewish homeland, now where can we flee?
Hate’s happening globally.  Are we bewildered?
Who did 9-11 in America?  Who initiated 
this current war?  Yet...
chants never change, world’s Jews have fear.
 
*
 

Don Kristt

Day 14 of the War: Awakenings (The challenge of Amalek)

 

Awakened by a rumble overhead,

somewhere beyond my vision.

Continuing now for many hours.

Engines of destruction

defending our homeland,

our children,

everything we love and know.

But at what sacrifice,

our humanity?

This double-edged sword,

Must we grasp its hilt?

Oh, dear God,

end this nightmare.

 

Awakened by the empty counsel

of the world: restraint is needed,

I hear.

Cries for humanitarian concerns;

a trap!

Our moral standing is attacked.

How could that be?

We were pre-empted,

brutally attacked, massacred.

Restraint?

We must believe in ourselves,

But, indeed,

we must take moral responsibility

 

For the antecedent

fracturing of our nation.

We are healing now;

maintain the inertia;

strengthen our bonding,

our unity of purpose,

our sense of common destiny,

our recognition,

finally,

that we are one people.

Now unified, empowered,

We must strike,

destroy a dreadful enemy;

expunge from the world

this cynical,

irredeemable evil,

this Amalek reincarnate.  

 

Awaken to a new dawn.

Bless the dawn

for its potential

for renewal,

for life and tranquility;

still a small consolation,

for a troubled creation.                                   

                                     Dkristt 10.2023


 

EBL

Gaza Lament

Give us cement, they cried that we may build

For our people, hospitals and homes

Give us cement, they cried that we may build

For our people, schools and mosques

 Give us cement, they cried that we may build

For our people, walls against the enemy

 The United Nations gave donations, the world believed

And the enemy relented.

 

But they built not hospitals and homes, schools and mosques,

Not even walls against the enemy.

Instead they built, of concrete,

With our children’s labour, spider webs of

Tunnels, wide and tall as a tree, solid and deep

Beneath or next, hospitals and homes, schools and mosques,

Even unto the borders into the land of the enemy

And they filled the tunnels with

Mortars and missiles, rockets and launchers

And deadly weapons from foreign friends

For many years they terrorised the enemy,

Whose citizens were cowered and killed

Daily, weekly, monthly, year on year

Super rockets fired at their villages and cities.

But the enemy loved its people and

Built shelters and an Iron Dome to deflect

The onslaught which saved many lives.

 

Now is the Day of Reckoning, the enemy has retaliated

In seeking to destroy our tunnels, filled with food, fuel,

Ammunitions for our fighters

And retaliate for our atrocities of October, seven

They have bombed our hospitals and homes, schools and mosques

Our people have no shelters, flee says the enemy but Hamas forbids

We are human shields against enemy fire

Our children, educated to hate, are crying, dying.

You, Hamas, who love death more than life.

The Shahid’s blood shall not be your fuel.

You have betrayed us by your evil teachings,

You have sacrificed us on your altar of hate.

Give us peace that we may

Rebuild our hospitals and homes, our schools and mosques

And live, side by side with our brothers.

*

David Shaffer

 

 AMALEK THE SON OF ELIPHAZ

 (Poem without an ending)

 

They mocked my mother: Concubine! His need

for her, desire perhaps, was paralleled

by Rivka’s (when she cooked a kid to feed

and cheat her blind husband who’d thought he’d smelled

venison my grandfather, who loved him,

would stalk and stagger home with).           It’s well known

my father has the blood of Avraham,

the blood of Yitzhak. Thus, I and my own

children can only hate our heritage.

Those Hebrews and their holy god I damn!

When I am done, there will be no vestige,

no memory. I’ll teach them who I am.

 

*

 

L. Ward Abel

 

The War  Begins

 

A theodicy cries out 

on borders tonight—

how can the sun set,

they ask, how can evil

rise up here, now?

There can be no return

to a status quo ante

as the force-quake

begins.

 

Indifferent

to the free will

that challenges others,

there’s a justified shuffling 

of boots on hard, waterless

fields in a merger of

anger, fear and

grief.

*

Courtney Druz

 

The Eighth Day

 

Away from this scratching of letters truth exists

clear in the heart’s eye but mist to senses,

a cold and stinging cloud hovering low,

a unity perceived in winking droplets.

 

Cloud bursts and letters bleed their ink

in watercolor wash of dark massed cloud:

a mirror finally, but no, a trick—

nothing looks like that shape anymore.

 

Nothing fits the concept of that cloud.

Nothing you can touch is made of glory.

Walls and roof were porous as I am

an open shelter to the blowing fog.

 

The great could scan forever deeper tunnels

through endless earth until the end of time

but only the smallest heard the sickening wings

coming through the thin symbolic net.

 

There is no repair for such wreckage;

even names are lost among the ashes.

Look upon the failure and then think

what to build and what to leave destroyed.

 

Take these words as silence, as they are

neither heard nor spoken, rather bound

into the texture of this fleeting page

or coded into shapes of dark and light.

 

Time has stopped for us here

or runs both fast and slow like the old puzzle

and now weeks later is the same hideous morning

and winter night falls in a hot afternoon.

 

Festival booths still stand that were not trampled,

the whole country frozen like a crime scene

taped around with banners, blue and white,

proclaiming not restricted but together

 

we will win: together, moving again,

steadily, holding up each other

with awkward hands, raising up a shelter,

a table in the face of oppressors,

 

the frame of a new world built of kindness.

Find here comfort—not exactly rest,

nothing’s close to finished—but a strength

to see each other in the weird new light

 

of this eighth day, the longest, not yet setting

though sharp stars glint already through loose thatch

that is a wing of cloud on lasting noon.

 

*

 

Reizel Polak - 2 poems

 

In the Land of the Living
               
November 9 2023

In this land of the living
we see in the eyes of those who know
the stakes of this terrible war
unwavering studied designs for victory

civilian hands at work to take on
all needs to keep the soiled khakis
of the soldiers laundered there we smile
we sit under torrents of loving kindness

weeping over Tehillim naming the names
of those stepping into battle in the dark night
an army of lions tender loving fierce
from whence comes David shepherd youth

walking forward fearless in fear to overtake
this enemy of the G-d of Israel
in the glory of the Name of He Who
watches over us whose children are

made in the divine image to keep the captives
close holding our anguish our pain
for healing where else will we find
such love unleashed that binds every
neshama in
the land of the living.

*

Day 40 of the War
                   November 15 2023

Forty days forty nights forty years
a flood sustained a desert crossed

today with anguish
in pain that sears our core

we the Children of Israel
Children of G-d

Who has brought us out
from the enmity of ever-rising enemies

we hold these words dear
from the mouth of the Navi Yermiyahu

we find we make we grow
the precious out of the vile

Our soldiers carry with them
in leaden packs an arsenal

of light so penetrating to pierce
the dank black hole of evil

in the enemy on all sides
to overcome to break to defeat
*

*

 

Ruth Fogelman

 

The Sixtieth Day – Iron Swords 2023

 

sixty days since Simhat Torah

since our elated rejoicing turned

to the deepest grief

since the massacre and its atrocities

too vile for words

 

sixty days of anguished waiting

for news of the hostages, our loved ones

whose photos are plastered throughout the Land –

babies and young children, grandparents, parents –

with giant lettering, white on red, bring them home

 

for sixty days, we awake to the news –

the names of the fallen soldiers and civilians

the time and place of their funerals

fifty-nine days of massive fighting

the forces of absolute evil

 

sixty days – each one an eternity or one long nightmarish day

 

God of war, God of peace

solve the humanly insolvable

with Your heavenly light

*

Ruth Fogelman

 

Bring Home the Hostages

 

The images –

smiling faces

looking at me

from posters plastered

on store-fronts, billboards

bus-stops, walls –

more faces than I can count.

 

A red-haired baby with a wide smile

a white-haired grandmother, her lips the color of wine.

My heart cries out with silent screams

my voice choking, holding back tears…

Bring home the Captives!

The Kidnapped!

Now! Now!

 

In the evening, I view a short news clip from Gaza –

an orange candy wrapper

with Hebrew letters

a baby's bottle, brown teddy bear –

signs that hostages had been there

in the web of tunnels beneath Shifa hospital...

but now, where?

 

Lord, grant our men whatever they need

to find Your children in Gaza’s Gehinnom

wherever they may be hidden.

Destroy those who imprison them

return them to their loved ones.

May Your sons and daughters promptly return home

may light again shine from their eyes.

 

*

Pessy Krausz

 

Forever on Guard

 

Gil’ad Nechemia Nitzan, that was his name,

Painfully gone, of greatly blessed memory

Middle of seven children, quite unusual

Sandwiched son of twenty one, proudly decides to

Serve in the regular army, whole heartedly.

 

Granddaughter married to Gil’ad’s big brother

Hugely pregnant. Shield her in that condition

From the tragic news which spreads like wild fire

Sister drives fast, how can she impart to her

Gil’ad’s no longer. Innocence ripped from her.

 

Parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters.

Community mourn, wrapped in Gil’ad’s Shiva.

Crowds visit his home in historic Shilo

Bejewelled ancient city, many returning

To our Tabernacle’s home, so long ago.

 

From far and wide, north and south came all kinds

Some who flocked had served with him and others,

Older, round his memory all wove stories.

My bond with Gil’ad goes back many years,

Younger, yet shared a positive outlook.  

 

He’d declaim my name loudly, “Savta Omi!”   

Gleefully, swinging curls, dancing towards me

Triggering past echoes, soulfully. My name       

Is after grandmother, in German, Oma,  

Left to cruel fate, still her memory lives on.

 

My bitter chronicle, transported in pain

To this gallant young man, his future cut short.   

Does it have to be? No! Through his memory     

We’ll create positive history, and...

“Death shall have no dominion” Gil’ad’s life...

 

Will be celebrated, fulfilled through countless

Acts of kindness, while brides and grooms unite

Future generations embrace his image

Of conventional unconventionality.

Who’ll love our land, far more than just in theory

 

From a young age, Gil’ad spent time gardening    

He’d weed and he’d plant, not just for his parent’s

Neighbours called him, and Yishuvim nearby,

By helping their gardeners his labour flourished

Plant’s just couldn’t resist his magical touch.

 

He could not escape the call of the wild.  

Whenever the army gave time to relax,

Pals in his unit, with packs strapped on their back

Would follow their leader, Kippa on his head

While unimportant for them was his headgear.

“No matter we’re from backgrounds so different”

Gil’ad would say, “We’re one person – body and soul.”

From love of Torah and Yeshiva, he drew

Inspiration, helped others to enjoy life.

Nieces, nephews Savta Omi, all felt his love.

 

Gil’ad Nechemia Nitzan his sublime names,  

Each one tells a story, so what means Gil’ad?

Hebrew Gil means joy and Ad, everlasting

What is more fitting as our heroes motto

Whose influence will guide us as an example

 

Each name tells a story, so what means Nechemia?

“Comforter; God comforts.” Gil’ad too gave comfort

To all those round him, thinking ‘out of the box’

Yet bringing others to his box, mission achieved,

The ultimate connector in so many fields.

 

Each one tells a story, so what means Nitzan?

That was his surname, his family carries on

Nitzan in Hebrew means ‘bud’ or ‘blossom’.

When your little sprout arrives, help it to flourish,

That’s what Gil’ad did, and his family continues.

 

We see Gil’ad in his tent, at time of war,

Engrossed in a book, wearing army gear.

None were like you, an inspiration, unique

Forever on Guard, ignite our spark, unite us,

You are our model, with your spirit we’re imbued

 

Indeed, your Memory is for a Blessing.

 

Written in humility by Pessy Krausz                                                                    9th December 2023

*

Elhanan ben-Avraham

VENGEANCE
(TO B OR NOT TO B)

Brave boys braced before
battalions of blazing batteries
bearing the blight of battle
breaching bonds of blackness
batter brutal bands of brazen
barbaric beasts burning
babies born butchered
in bleeding bellies at birth
beheld blithely beheaded
before bewildered brethren
besieged in bloody barren beds
bequeathed a bitter blindness
in buried belief of beauty
to bear beyond the bleak
borders of broken barriers.

Elhanan
 

*

Don Kristt

 

Survival in the whirlwind of death and destruction

 (Dedicated to the five fallen souldiers)

 

We are trapped!

These terrible,

awful winds of death,

of destruction.

With satanic power

they consume my days,

rip at my soul,

tear lovely

children from our arms;

taken for ever -

evermore.

Is there hope?

I cannot survive,

endure another day

like this

if there is not hope.

I believe we will survive,

I must believe we will endure

to a time

that the joy from within creation

is again released to our world.

Clutch at His garments,

and plead

until He grants us respite:

a return to life

with meaning,

with tranquility and love.

Hug me Hashem!

I am overwhelmed

with sadness;

my every atom despairs.

Reach out with Your right hand

and touch me gently,

dear God,

bring me close to you,

in tranquility.

Restore peace to my soul.

                                                            12.23

 *

Pesach Rotem

 

A TIME FOR WAR AND A TIME FOR PEACE

 

לַכֹּל, זְמָן; . . . עֵת מִלְחָמָה וְעֵת שָׁלוֹם.

“To every thing there is a season, . . . a time for war and a time for peace.”

Ecclesiastes, chapter 3

 

In the fifteenth century, in the time of Joan of Arc,

England and France were at war.

In the nineteenth century, in the time of Napoleon,

England and France were still at war.

An intelligent observer could have concluded, reasonably,

that England and France were destined to be at war forever.

And yet . . .

 

And yet, today, in the twenty-first century,

not only are England and France not at war,

they are so not-at-war that it is impossible

to even imagine England and France going to war.

 

I predict that by the twenty-third century,

just two hundred years from now,

Israel and Palestine will also be not at war.

Like England and France, like Czecho and Slovakia,

they will be so not-at-war that it will be impossible

to even imagine Israel and Palestine going to war.

And yet . . .

 

And yet, today, in the meantime,

in the harsh reality of the here and now,

in the bloody shadow of Simchat Torah,

in the vow, once again, of Never Again,

there is no alternative to victory.

 

Peace will have to wait.

 *

Hayim Abramson

9318 Desert Dawn

You wake up in the morning to a glimmer of hope, miracles unfurl, a marvel that we're still gripping life's rope. "I think, therefore I am," Descartes said with philosophic flair, I do assert, realizing existence isn't just about me, this is only fair.

We navigate desert dunes, challenged by the sun and wind's gust, come along, my friend, let's press on before the sun's high thrust. with a caravan of troubled souls, wandering somewhere there, change arrives suddenly, as sands whisper, deepening awareness in our hearts.

There is an aura of spirituality for those who gather, it's humanity's dawn, a touch of Blake's brilliance for the average, a thought drawn. Faith, a guide as we grapple with life's complex art, hoping salvation springs forth. Like a swift gazelle in the mountains that appears and disappears.

When hardship clashes with belief, millions dwell in cruelty's shadow, their leaders seek no relief. Words won't sway them, navigating reefs is a strife, war erupts, both sides under righteousness' quasi-legal declamations and pious declarations.

Alas, for the sacrifices that Kalashnikovs and missiles bring, there's work for all, work on our beliefs, let humanity ring. With pockets filled with weapons and ammunition, soldiers embrace the night, sprinting forward, knowing spirit triumphs over might.

The essence of truth in the communication media often stumbles. Millions dwell in cruelty's shadow as their leaders seek unlimited power . Words may not convince, navigating reefs a challenging quest, war unfolds, righteousness' legal briefs put to the test.

Amidst the chaos, let's hold on to our shared humanity, work on our beliefs, fostering peace with true sincerity. With pockets filled with hope, let the pistol and knife rest but be ready for the fighting, it's the spirit that truly knows what's best.

*

Michele Bustin - 2 poems

Israel November 2023.

 

In the centre of the country

in a pleasingly decorated café,

we sit serenely and sip afternoon tea,

a stand of small sandwiches, artisan biscuits,

scones and strawberry jam before us,

await our tasting,

 soft music soothes us into a sense of security.

Suddenly, sounds of sirens and loud cracks

thrust us back to reality.

We make our way well-practised

to the familiar safe place.

Ten minutes later we are once again

sitting and sipping and tasting,

as if this is how it should be, always will be.

Not far away guns are firing,

bombs are striking,

people have been snatched from their lives

only living at the mercy of murderers.

Yet we go through the motions:

we sit, we sip , we taste.

Like a surrealistic painting or creation

in the fantasy mind

of a Dali or a Magritte,

like a  hectic dance to the discordant tones

of a Schoenberg or a Stravinski.

Yet life goes on and the world turns

in its unwavering orbit….

 

*

 

Faces on a poster ( October 2023 )

 

1.

She's

there...

but

where?

And

who's

brushing

her

hair?

Curls

swirl,

smile

shy.

Why?

 

2.

Eighteen,

awaiting

adulthood

confidently

eagerly,

looking

ahead.

Now

only

dread.

She's

abducted,

life's

disrupted.

*

 

Bob Findyzs

 

Bridges

 

The shining slit in an eastern sky

is a gorged grapefruit peeking out

from behind thick, thorny branches.

This crescent of new moon draws me 

to a city still securely snoozing away

in its forested evergreen blanket.

Refrains of Simon & Garfunkel 

on a pre-dawn radio playlist 

bridge for a moment 

the troubled water 

worrying a world 

I choose to call

my home.

 

Boarding a bus

I'm off to pick lemons

in a grove enveloped by

sounds from the battleground --

the least these old bones

can do at a time 

like this.

 

-- January 2024

 

*

 

Chana Cromer

A walk on the beach


On the far horizon navy clouds
Hang over an open sea.
I can breathe
Deeply, fully, widely.
My breath rises
As the turquoise waves at my feet,
Embroidered dove-white with sunlight,
Rush in.

This winter, teal, dark sea
With its fine navy line on the horizon
Frames a world of light and dark.
As Chiaroscuro in a Rembrandt painting
It clarifies the muddle.

On this wintery dark day
I find comfort in the wild sea,
In nature, in the enormous sky.
A heavy grey diagonal of cloud
Over a majestic sea,
Resuscitates my soul.
The sun has pushed through and lit a cove,
Just down the beach.

Let this be what is real.
Let these small white smooth stones on the damp sand
Cure this four months' long sickness,
That has festered in my blood.
Let the sea air cure this contagion
Endangering our dear land.

Pure evil has butchered
Has slaughtered our senses.
Ignorance and slogans reign free,
Exposing the hate, the ego, the blindness.
Our villages, red and charred,
Are now black scars on the flesh of our land.

We are less. We are more.
Crippled, we embrace, we hold one another.
So much, too much
We have cried in the rooms of our warm homes
Thinking of those we cherish who are so cold,
So hungry and weary.
Scarred, scared, their eyes lowered,
Their voices are just a whisper,

It is their beating hearts, so true,
We hold in ours.
Their souls remain
Afire with life
In their whittled selves
Amidst the chaos.
 

*

 

David Weiser

 

210.

My soul sits in a tunnel

   Of terror underground,

      Unable to escape.

 

I hear the constant groan

   Of children and the aged;

      I feel the flames of hate.

 

In hopeful ignorance 

   We had a dream of peace,

      But now we are awake.


*

 

Julian Alper

War for Israel

 

It’s a dark night, the moon and stars obscured by dense clouds

A dark night, a dark time

I’m restless and irritable, unable to sleep

I’ve been pacing up and down

Waiting, worrying, nervous, frightened – perhaps even terrified

Will we be at war in just a short while from now?

How long can we resist an attack?

How many deaths? How many casualties?

No thoughts of gain at all - we just want to live in peace

This will be an existential war

Will we survive or be wiped out? No wonder I can’t sleep

The approaching army is huge, well-armed, well-trained

A well-oiled war machine

While we are few in number, poorly-armed, no training

Boys fighting men.

 

I return to bed, to get some rest even if I can’t sleep

I’m drifting in and out of slumber, barely dozing

But dreaming and waking in a cold sweat

Jackals are howling like they’re telling me to flee

I wish I could, but it’s too late to think of that

We’d be overtaken and overrun in minutes

I have a recurring dream – I’m being attacked by a colossal giant

More like a monster or a ghost than a man, I lash out but don’t strike

I’m frightened, even distressed, I struggle, but will I prevail?

I can’t hit him, but he lands blow after blow to my body

Hyenas are laughing like they’re enjoying my demise

My legs are heavy with pain

I want to give up, surrender, but I’m clinging to life

I’m resisting, I’m struggling, I’m fighting, I’m prevailing

The night is ending, the sky is lightening

Birds are singing, flowers are blooming

The sun is rising, a new day is dawning

I wake up with a burning pain in my leg

The nerves of my thighs are on fire

I rise, I stumble, I limp, but I survived

I’m a new man, Israel is alive

Am Yisrael Chai - the people of Israel live!

 

There’ll be more wars, that’s for sure

We’ll be hit hard, we’ll suffer much

Our pain will be great, there’ll be casualties and death

But we will resist, we will struggle, we will fight

We might stumble, we might limp

But we will survive, we will prevail

Israel will live forever

Am Yisrael Chai - the people of Israel live!

*

 

Ethelea Katzenell

Remembering an innocent victim of blind hatred

 

About one hundred meters ahead
I saw a white-haired woman walking
Slight of build and light of foot
Casually dressed and in sandals.

Startled for but a moment
I thought I was seeing Judih*
But that was wishful thinking
Since Judih died in Gaza.

Veteran poet, mother, and daughter
Who wouldn’t even hurt a fly
A loving person, lover of peace
Shot to death by blind hatred.

Always there in my mind’s eye
I can recall her gentle demeanor
And though she’s really gone now
Her memory lingers with me.


*Weinstein from Nir 'Oz

*

 

Mark L. Levinson

Beneath the Lamppost

January 2024

Beneath a lamppost, near the candy store,
a sign demands the freedom of a boy
as if his captors might take note of it
while, Lord forbid, bustling along the street.

The country’s open shops are all alike;
each closed one has a reason of its own:
death or bereavement, economic woes,
townwide evacuation, or callups.

“We don’t know who’s alive, or where they are!”
a customer inside the candy store
expostulates to the proprietor,
who answers: “How could any ransom be
too steep, or any terms too dangerous?
The problem is our stubborn government.”

 

*

Roberta Chester

Requiem For Our Fallen Soldiers

I
Much beloved, we again send them off to war
to the menace of that netherworld next door.
In this land divinely ordained as ours,
their hatred cannot abide our presence here,
taking those most adored, whose footsteps
coming home that so gladdened us, will sound no more…

and every day another
and another, whose name
is a fallen star adding to the number,
a black hole in each family’s constellation—
son and father, grandson, brother, uncle, friend and lover,
another name inscribed on another stone.

There is no measure
to how much each one matters.
Our landscape is overgrown with stones we plant,
and here we gather to honor them and console each other,
as each night the sky becomes
another degree darker.

II
Someday this war will end,
but for those who mourn it will never be over,
until the time that long-awaited promise is fulfilled
when our fallen soldiers are restored to us,
and we again hear their footsteps at the door,
and their laughter in the air.

 

*

 

Lilian Cohen

We don’t need the pictures

 

of babies burned and beheaded

young people raped and slaughtered

old people dragged out and shot –

our haven irrevocably breached.

 

Awash with memory we know

the hatred preached by clerics

absorbed with mothers’ milk,

the terror loosed by baying packs

thrusting scimitars and swords,

the stench of burning flesh and ash-filled air -

expulsion from refuge time after time ...

 

Even now toxic bubbles ferment unhindered

in academic halls and bastions of power

insinuating poison into unformed minds,

flooding the media

spilling onto streets ...

 

Awash with memory

we don’t need the pictures.

                                                                            October 2023

*

Gerald E. Greene

Seventy Percent

 

While buildings crumble

and homes disappear

 

While plumbing collapses

and sewage flows like melting snow

 

While food becomes scarce

and children starve

 

Seventy percent

still believe the

October 7 atrocities were good

 

While hospitals become bunkers

and supplies run out

 

While patient rooms are arsenals

and offices turn into barracks

 

While pharmacies empty

and injuries go untreated

 

Seventy percent

still believe the

October 7 atrocities were good

 

While hostages die

and families grieve

 

While children stop learning

and teachers carry guns

 

While leaders rejoice

and live in exile

 

Seventy percent

still believe the

October 7 atrocities were good

 

As purpose flows down

and method flows up

the innocent are martyred

by the seventy percent


*

 

Miriam Jaskierowicz Arman

 

DAUGHTER OF MY PEOPLE

You are not mine, not of my womb,
I did not birth you nor give your life,
Nor teach you values or respect,
Neither did we share joys, nor cried together.
I never knew you - and I never will...

They murdered you! Why?
Your fault? Your crime? Why?
Maybe your smile? Love for your people?
The guilt of being born Hebrew in our holy land?
A fragment of us all will escort you...
We are one!

Your blood, your life, your future,
They robbed children, grandchildren, laughter, talents,
A flower ruthlessly torn from our bosom,
Their hatred kidnapped your future, snuffed out your candle,
Generations born of you, destroyed ...
I cry, I yearn, immense our pain; unbearable.
The sepulchers wide, endless abyss, eternity
Our sparks, our vigor - eons of tears shed - vanished.

You, embody the ancestral blood of every jew.
Enlightened faith, strength, hope...
Our determination, our eternal bond,
'Living' message to our people!
Fight for life, freedom, peace.
Fight and never give up!
‘Am Israel Chai’ – the People of Israel live!

 

 

 Eli Ben-Joseph

 

Nahariya Shore, Winter 2024

 

The sea sends little breakers.

The shoreline keeps its coves, the sun’s rays ripple

Round the rocks and, further up to Lebanon,

They fade on the horizon, where border boulders,

Huge and gray, feign tranquility.

Look, sweetheart, at our feet the waves

Toss conch shells and sea-worn bits of colored glass

Onto the sandy beach, then take the prizes back

With jeering regularity.

 

Long ago Jeremiah cried out in this land,

Thieving priests and hollow kings

Would bring God’s wrath

And foreign invaders burn our fields and trees,

Disperse or bear us off,

And break our Temple stones.

 

But belief was steel, renewal held sway.

We Israelites in caravans came back.

Faith found a new day

And held us in her mothering arms.

Within and out, over and over,

Escaping even ovens libel-lit,

Our people fell but rose.

Today patrol boats guard our coast

And howitzers return enemy fire

As mere whitecaps hit the beach.

 

Dear, let us shield our love

And keep watch on family and friend,

For despite the porches on our tree-lined streets,

Our homes and businesses that seem so usual,

Tunnels hide sly battle tools around our edges,

And enemies hold even toddlers hostage

While we take our walk along the shore

And go about our normal ways

Beneath the swoop of taloned war.

*

Eli Ben-Joseph

 

Mother Owl

 

Mother owl had once lost chicks to weasels.

A marten now killed one and threatened more.

Alarmed, she fixed her telescopic gaze,

maternal care within, and swooped and dug

her hooklike talons in the creature’s heart.

The marten’s young would get no food and die.

Yet mother owl did what a mother must.

 

Her defense was something like human war,

if not like Dresden, where civilian Germans

paid the price for Hitler’s bombs on London.

 

Moral quandary cannot escape

a bombing, not in Germany, nor Gaza,

where Israel targets only terrorists,

but common people suffer rulers’ acts,

whether rulers rule by vote or threat.

Defender, like mother owl, must defend.

 

*

 

Ruti Eastman

 

Do You Sleep?

19 February 2024 - Day 136 of the Simchat Torah War: Operation Swords of Iron

There were many nights when I didn’t sleep.
Every ding on the phone
might be one son or the other
or their wives
I suckled on the illusion
that I needed to be there for them
at a moment’s notice
to calm, to comfort, to commiserate.

Day or night
I broke my rule of
Not Answering Numbers I Don’t Recognize.
I answered every call
because any one might be from one of my soldiers
calling in those surreal moments
when he had access to a burn phone
just like in the movies.


Often I dreamed of the men
(always uniformed in black)
coming down the stairs
to give me the news —
and in the dream I would run
to the back of the apartment
crying to my husband
“I can’t do it. You go.”

Every morning from precisely
zero-three-forty-five until zero-four-forty-five
I mentally murdered my beloved sons
in countless indescribable ways
but always in the rubble of Gaza.

Now they are home
at least temporarily
with their wives and children
and I sleep somewhat better
I breathe easier
with my heart no longer in my throat

But the fear and anger over everyone else’s son or daughter
still caught in the jaws of the monster —
that fear and anger join hands with incredulity
regarding a world gone mad.
And I still sleep poorly
awakening with crispy eyes to face
the next bewildering day.

*

Trigger Warning: Dreadlocked Hippies

15 April 2024 - Day 192 of the Simchat Torah War: Operation Swords of Iron

Who knew?
We live in an age of “trigger-free zones.”
I may have scoffed in times past.
I admit it.

But October 7 changed everything.
New triggers grew like mushrooms after rain.
We were surprised by new fears.
Who knew?
 


Who knew?
I’m at a party. Already feeling weird
because “party” and “abductees”
are so far from each other in the dictionary.


I’m at this party.
I’m doing okay, keeping the ghosts
of hostages at bay... and then —
Who knew?


Who knew?
In walk a few hippies.
Dreadlocks. Piercings. Lazy jeans.
And I fall apart. I have to leave.


Step outside for air. Leave, and weep.
There but for the grace of God
these hippies might have died at Nova.
Who knew?


Who knew?
I breathe deeply. Fresh air. Freedom.
I clutch the BRING THEM HOME NOW!
dog tags we all wear these days.


They are with me wherever I go.
But hippies who never did more than amuse
are now a symbol of innocence massacred.
Who knew?

 

*

 

Laurence Seeff

 

STRESS 

 

1) It's now more than 6 months since the 7th of October

When the world, that we knew, it did change

A heinous attack made us cool, calm and sober

The feeling was so horribly strange

     

2) From that moment on we all felt the strain

For our families and ourselves – I confess

Israel was under attack once again

Experiencing very great stress

 

3) The soldiers were called to the battlefield

Their mission was nothing less than success

Their job was to protect and to shield

The citizens from the pain and the stress

 

4) But with so many hostages abducted that day

We were struck with an unusual numbness

There was so little we could do or could we say

To relieve the country’s shared stress

 

5) So as the weeks went by there was some negotiation

Leading to a degree of progress

The release of some hostages was some consolation

But even that process was not without stress

 

6) But since last November the war intensified

Negotiations seemed to have been meaningless

With no deals concluded - as much as we’ve tried

That’s only added to the national stress

 

7) As the killed and the wounded grew in number

Our feelings were impossible to repress

Families and friends in a stupified slumber

Causing greater and greater deep stress

 

8) Demonstrations and protests were seen countrywide

Frustration and anger we did express

Our thoughts and our feelings unable to hide

Telling the world of our ongoing stress

 

9) Here in Netanya it’s been rather calm

Although tensions run high nevertheless

Our city and people have been spared major harm

Permitting a reduction to our level of stress

 

10) Despite the situation we must try to dream

Of a much brighter future – I guess

Positivity, hope and great self-esteem

The best way to alleviate our stress

       

 *

Stanley H. Barkan

THE HYPOCRISY OF THE HUMANITARIAN

 

In the fight between good and evil, there’s only one side to choose,

for the true Humanitarian.

 

—Stanley H. Barkan

I

 

The baby’s been put in the oven live.

 

The mother, while being raped,

is screaming not because of the rape

but at the sound of her baby’s

agonized cries,

all up in flame and smoke.

 

But the Humanitarian is concerned

with “both sides.”

 

 

II

 

Her skin made a nice lampshade.

Her husband and children, soap.

 

Is there enough soap to wash away

the Humanitarian’s hypocrisy?

 

III

 

“They tossed the babies like cabbages onto trucks.”

 

So the old witness told me.

 

“Tsk-tsk!” says the Humanitarian.

 

 

IV

 

The little boy showed

the tattoo on his arm,

as he and  the other children

were led to the ovens.

 

Just so much smoke

from the chimneys.

 

V

 

Yesterday, I bought a big long hunting knife.

 

*

 

Stanley H. Barkan

UNDER THE RAGING MOON

with thanks to Dylan Thomas

17 February 2024

 

I am raging under the moon, the sun, and the stars

for all the hostages held by Hamas,

all the satanic forces,

those who worship Death, instead of Life.

 

I am raging for the mother, who just announced

her support of the IDF to finish their mission,

to destroy the demons of darkness

and to bring home all the hostages.

 

She, the mother of a hostage, a young handsome,

full-of-life son, who only brought humor and joy

to all—to his wife and friends and extended family

and others of the community of his kibbutz.

 

By this public announcement, this mother of a hostage son,

has risked her own akedah  (sacrifice) of her son,

as those who have captured and imprison him

may take revenge on him for his mother’s valor.

 

Those who seek to make Gilad Schalit-type appeasements,

releasing some 1500 blood-on-their-hands fiends,

just one of which organized the Oct. 7th day of horror,

by such an exchange, risk diurnal Jewish genocide.

 

And so, history repeats itself, again and again:

from the Babylonian destruction of the first temple,

to the Syrian Hellenists’ defilement of the second,

to the Romans’ destruction of that temple and the diaspora,

.

to the crusaders who burned the Jewish villages while on the way

to free Jerusalem from the domination of the Moors,

to the torture of Torquemada’s Inquisition & the pogroms of Khmelnytsky’s Cossacks,

to the terrorist rampages of 1929 Hebron, birthplace of Judaism,

 

to Kristallnacht, and the Shoah, right up to this little shoah,

of Oct. 7th, the persistent desire to solve “The Jewish Question.”

And now, the mother of a hostage risks her own akedah

but where, this time, is the staying voice of the angel of God?

 

 



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