Sue Tourkin Komet z”l was was born in the United States in 1948 and came to Israel in her 20's. She was a social worker, matchmaker, the devoted mother of a disabled daughter, active in the community in Gilo, a “slam artiste poetess” and a maker of miniature Sukka 'models'. After a long struggle, Sue passed away due to cancer on January 4, 2017. Her book Jerusalem Out Front, Bethlehem Outback: Prose & Poetry is being prepared for publication.

    Sue's “Sukkat ha-Aliyot (Sukkah of immigration),” which was acquired by Beit Avi Chai, was described as follows:

Into a very compact ‘museum’ about doll-house size, Sue managed to engineer 400-500 components of historical, symbolic, and artistic value, including such “personae” as The Rambam, Moshe Sharett, a Holocaust Survivor, Chareidim “davenning” at the Kotel, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, and theatergoers on their way to the Jerusalem Theatre, holding a miniature parasol-umbrella. King David's Tehillim [Psalms] are in Sue's model, plus jewelry, seashells, keys, a backwards wrist-watch, paper-weaving of Sue's own, foreign flags, the Israeli flag, insignia from the JNF [Keren Kayemeth L'Yisrael] and much more!

    Below are the pieces by Sue which we have been privileged to publish in The Deronda Review and on over the years.





This lawn, where robotic shiny ants now crawl,

July, all dry and browned;

Last winter, iced and snowed upon.


This lawn hosted my daughter’s birthday parties

Where she glowed upon her transitory throne

Upon her modern shiny wheelchair.


This lawn’s court where I was courted by

Two-faced phoney slimy plony-almony’s *

Whose deceits ceased my imagined harmonies.


This lawn where my maddened immigrant neighbor later set afire

An entire dusty dunam* – court-ordered away

With wizened wife off to some distant shiny asylum institution.


This lawn, constructed and cemented, also elevated,

Facing shiny antenna’d Bezek* fortress

Facing the infamous Tunnel Road’s fortifications.


Facing Tantur’s*  Ecumenic Institutions

Facing Rachel’s Tomb’s ancient emanations

Facing Bethlehem’s modern shiny degradations.


Facing glassy robotic eyes of billions

Viewing daily / nightly news of nations

Beamed from shiny modern glossy television stations.




I’m Always Happy to Slice Dry


I’m always happy to slice dry


they splatter my eyeglasses

with snow-flake like splashes

releasing my underground tears

which lay so deeply buried always—there.


I’m always happy to slice dry


it reminds me I’m not  the daughter of

Holocaust Survivors.

In my childhood in the States it was natural

to garbage our dry bread—there.


I’m always happy to slice dry


it means they’ve not

molded and rotted in my fridge,

not become wasted, not ex-communicated,

nor garbaged from here to out there.


I’m always happy to slice my


my knives are so dull

they do a “kapparah” *

for all the back-stabbings which’ve not happened

to me and to others—here.


I’m always



I’m finally able

—to be temporarily able—

to finally be able to cry—here.


*= “kapparah,” Hebrew, for atonement









Fifty-something years ago or so, me and my twin—

The Number One Sensation!

“Flower-girls” for our eldest cousin’s

Nouveau riche “society wedding” in Manhattan.


Bedecked in off-blue pastel creations

Custom-made seamstress satin dresses

Matching millinery satin with our limpid tresses

The off-blue odd chapeaux I still recall.


I possess Black & White pix which would prove it

Yet the Black & White won’t really reveal that

Odd shade which remains

Inside my ageing brains.


We twins paced parallel proudly and primly: Princesses

Serious, mysterious           elegant and confident.

We possess Black & White pix which would prove that.

In real life—away from weddings—we carried on like two scaredy-cats.


One, two years later, our satin dresses grown smaller

Forced me to swallow we’d grown taller...

Our “flower-girl” career

Was done forever?


Now, hours after Yom Kippur, Two Oh Oh Seven—

The blackened white burnt yahrzeit candle for all In Heaven—

Sit I in my cluttered kitchen, nashing two kinds of home-made tzimmes

Not “Black / White” defrosted cake from my freezer.


So as to keep my pluckish girlish figure

As I keep my eyes on my mirror and my tweezers

Plucking black & white “barbed-wire”

Off my ageing blondish face: no more a “flower-girl.”


The black on white Machzor’s letters repeatedly cried:

“Don’t forsake us in our old age before we die.”

                                                                                                                                       – Sue Komet

Yarzheit (Yiddish)  —  annual memorial date.

 tzimmes (Yiddish)  — traditional holiday food, a carrot & raison stew for a  good, sweet year & lifelife.

Machzor (Hebrew) High Holy Day Prayer Book with repeated prayers.






I daydream

—But woe to scheme!—

Plan, pose, and putter,

Talk, think, thank, and utter


Enfranchise and chastise,

Emote, evoke, e-mail, evaluate,

Design and decorate,

Debate, de-code, and designate,


Read and write and count,

Encounter and endorse,


Encourage and engage / pacify / enrage,

Speak and sputter pitter-patter


Neither stammer nor stutter

In my mother-tongue English.


But sometimes, at night it’s true

Fluently I dream on,



In Hebrew.

                                                                                                                    Jerusalem, Summer 2007







Never a New Yorker

But I repeatedly passed through the portals

Of the New York Subway System

Systematicly seeing adverts saying:


“You Don’t Have to Be Jewish to Love Levy’s Bread”—

With handsome, colorful, frontal, full-page, full-face portrait photos

Of Afro-Americans, Chinese-Americans, and

Indian-tribe-Americans ad infinitum—


Smilingly—toothily, grinningly—ear-to-ear devouring

Levy’s Jewish  rye bread.

Now, four decades later, would an Israeli advertiser

Kindly take my mug-shot with my Ashkenazic looks and—


Pay me please a small fortune for such

And emblazon my “ethnic” face all over the place—

Grinningly, gobbling too spicey hot Moroccan-Israeli sauce and fish

Not my own ethnic bland pale-by-comparison gefilteh fish dish—


Make me rich and famous,

Pay me damages,

For my one not The Man in the Bible’s, Moses’s—

Burnt tongue?








Part One:


Beyla Elisheva used to go as “Yaffa Shulamit” her real given-at-birth moniker, but laughed to think that her original “Yaffa Shulamit” was a derivative of the names of her deceased Great-Aunt Sheindel, a.k.a. Jennie, and her Grandfather Elisha, a.k.a. Harry, both of whom she of course never knew in the flesh and but a bit in the spirit.   Furthermore, Beyla Elisheva slightly moaned to herself that her real given-at-birth name was “Susan Elizabeth”— for Sheindel / Elisha — with that very provocative long-script hanging-low “z” smack in the middle of “Elizabeth” which almost-every-time she penned her full legal name, from the First Grade onwards, she always knew she was a girl and not a boy...


More than that, Beyla Elisheva, a.k.a. Susan  Elizabeth, recalled her childhood fascinations —mildly so, not obsessively so—with Queen Elizabeth The Second of the former British Empire, as well as the buxom-beauty Elizabeth Taylor, also her namesakes.  Not to ignore that in her “Susan” identity [“Susan” derived from “Sheindel” also meaning “Yaffa” and also sort of meaning “Beyla”] she was used to answering to: Sue, Susie, Susie-Q, Susann, Suzanne, Suzanna, Susanne, Suzette, Sue-Ellen, Suseleh, Suzalah, and Shoshana—not her  Hebrew name. Some Sabras  tried once or twice to call her Sus —horse—but it never stuck, Thank The Lord.  She was called “Dr. Seuss” once at a Poetry Slam but that moniker didn’t take hold either, Thank Heavens.


From the 1970s she was disgustedly repelled by the new name of “A Boy Named Sue” from some very dumb song title.  Mentioning songs: she also answered to the name of “Sioux City Sue” — luckily a name that did not bother her at all, but rather amused her.


To top matters off, Beyla-Elisheva-Yaffa-Shulamit-Susan-Elizabeth-Susie-Sioux-Sue has an identical twin sister named Leah Yehudit [rhymes with Yaffa Shulamit...] a.k.a. Louise Judith, so Beyla-Elisheva-Yaffa-Shulamit-Susan-Elizabeth-et cetera also answered to the names of Leah Yehudit and Louise Judith.  Not of her own doing, but by others’ errors...


Part Two:


Meanwhile, Louise Judith hated her “Louise” name for decades and fantasized changing it to Judy or Judith which sounded altogether more Jewish than “Louise.”  She never legally changed it to Judith but she continued to fantasize about it.  She married a man who changed his last name from Reznick to B.Z. [for “Ben Zion”].


When the real Ohio’an  American Jewish female Astronaut Judith Resnick was tragically super-instantaneously killed in the burn-up of her aerospace aeroship in the 1980s, “the” Louise Judith, living in Israel, who’d become Leah Yehudit, a step away from “Judith” and “B.Z.” a step away from Resnick, she Leah BZ was briefly freaked out that the dead martyred American Jewish Astronaut Judith Resnick, had had the real name that she Louise Judith had almost become.  If she, Leah Yehudit had legally become “Judith” and her husband would’ve remained with his “Reznick” then every single time she’d have uttered her newer and newest name, “Judith Reznick,” any but any educated stranger might’ve forever reminded her that she’s named the same name as the killed American first female—and Jewish—Astronaut.


Part Three:


In the late 1980s approximately a million Russian Jewish [and non-Jewish] refugees from the fall of the “Iron Curtain” started pouring into Israel including in 1991 when Israel was being attacked by dozens of long-range missiles that hit mostly her coastal plain “courtesy” of the Iraqi enemies.


This author became a regular volunteer with “Keren Klita”— a non-profit organization delivering “care” packages to such bewildered immigrants at their rental apartments.  Quite a few of those immigrants were highly educated, and knew high-level English and knew zero Hebrew.  This author / friendly neighborhood volunteer knew it was incumbent to dialog with such immigrants instead of merely dropping off a package and running on her merry way.


In the course of one such forever memorable and meaningful dialog, somehow the “topic” of Judith Resnick, may she Rest In Peace, the American Jewish Astronaut came up.  This author / volunteer was amazed as well as un-amazed to be told, by elderly Russian Jews, retired engineers—neighbors of hers—that in the aftermath of such American 1980s aeronautical accident, which killed Judith Resnick and other astronauts, the Russian mass media incessantly bombarded the Russian population with repeated news’ reports about the deaths of the American Astronauts, constantly naming their names, with emphasis on Judith Resnick’s name as a subtle form of anti-semitism, linking it to the American space-race failure.


For Russian Jews, however, easily discerning that “Judith Resnick” was / is a totally Jewish name, and a Russian Jewish name at that, the Communist propaganda backfired, because Russian Jews, grieving for Judith Resnick instead of loathing her, were sadly instilled with a deep pride that an American Jewish woman, direct descendent of Russian Jews, was able to reach the highest ranks of the American space technology, to become a first female American Astronaut, and Jewish on top of it all.


Rumour has it that Judith Resnick’s mother was an active “Hadassah Lady” in the USA, raising funds for decades for the famous Hadassah Hospitals of Jerusalem.


Part Five:


If there’s some little boy or young man now in Mitzpeh Ramon named Ilan Ramon, who just can’t seem to be able to live with his given birth name, he’s probably thinking of changing it legally at the Israeli Ministry of the Interior—Population Registry—if not before Purim, then after Purim.







This place where

Rabbis dine with ex-cons and where

Powdered perfumed pianist emigrees

Don’t converse with “Franks,” but eat them



This place where

Food odors mingle with body odors of laborers

And street-people forever unemployed, where

Pock-marked, pale poverty-striken, and plump pensionnaires preside



This place where

Men draw fists, who’ve worn or not worn

Golden cuff-links, or been “cuffed” by The Police,

Who carry generations of weights of shame on fragile and tough shoulders



This place where

Volunteers emanate from different American states, and from the I.D.F.,

Iranian immigrants, Alaskan Jewish tourists, a Poet from New York,

A rare Russian one and one from southern Jerusalem



This place where

The Manager and Chief Waitress sometimes chain-smoke over

The spicy bland food, and I for once don’t correct them

As everyday, every sinew, bone, muscle, nerve and organ of them sweats here



This place where

Terrorists don’t bother to infiltrate

This place

This Yerushalmi Shuk Soup Kitchen  *


*  Yerushalmi Shuk  — Hebrew for Jerusalem marketplace






It’s not the rectangular corkboard bulletin board behind the group moderator or the rectangular air-conditioner that she turned down in this chilly rectangular room. It’s not this rectangular table because it could be a square table, a round-table, an oval-shaped table, or even a triangular-shaped table.


It’s not this rectangular sheet of yellow and lined “legal” paper because most writing blocs are rectangular. It’s not this room on the Eighth Floor because most rooms are    rectangular. It’s not this rectangular Jerusalem downtown office building because most office buildings that are 35 years old are rectangular.  It’s not the chocolate or lemon flavored “wafflim”—waffled bisquits that I’m avoiding within my hand’s reach because they are long, fattening, overly-sweet, crunchy, melt-in-my-mouth tempting rectangles.


It is, oh it is, all those kilos of floor to ceiling rectangular files that say “Amcha”—correspondence 1999-2003. “Amcha”—bank deposits. “Amcha”—Thank You Letters to Donors. “Amcha”—U.J.A. Federation of New York. “Amcha”—Trauma Coalition. “Amcha”— Claims. All in rectangular filing boxes that I dare not touch nor dare not open. It is, it is, the rectangular shaped tissue packet on this rectangular table for wiping our tearful eyes or noses. And no one’s using it—yet. It is, it is, those lone nature photos inside of small rectangular frames, creating a sense of quietude, solitude, and survivial on the walls of this rectangular room. It is, oh it is, the rectangular shape of our Israeli blue and white pseudo-imitation “tallit”—prayer shawl—national flag, not seen in this room, but felt in this room as we approach 60 years of so-called national sovereignty, national independence, a week from today.


It is the rectangular shape of my Israeli ID pastel blue plasticized card and my Israeli navy blue passport, used much more by me these past four decades, on a day to day basis or for year to year transactions, than my much less used rectangular shaped navy blue American passport and my non-existant—not ever existed—lack of—a USA Identity Card.


It was the rectangular shape today of the sunlight pouring in from the rectangular sun-roof in the rectangular courtyard of the rectangular “Chabad” Center in the rectangular shaped Jewish Quarter of the rectangular shaped whole Old City of Jerusalem, walking distance from the rectangular Temple Mount. Today—where the Mohel at that Chabad Center opened his rectangular shaped suitcase to extract his holy implements to do a holy Brit Milah, circumcision, on the eight day old grandson of Holocaust Survivors—he from Hungary and she “mammash”—really—from Germany.


It’s that rectangular sunlight shining on that rectangular table laden with Kosher “milchig” food celebrating the Brit Milah and celebrating life.

It’s the Kosher dairy “milchig” 500 gram giant Swiss Chocolate Candy bar—a delicious rectangle I brought to the Brit Milah as a ThankYou gesture without my knowing that this would become a “rectangular day in the neighborhood.”’s the rectangular grave of that Mohel’s beloved son, one of thirteen siblings, now only twelve siblings...the killed lad was one of the eight Mercaz HaRav Kook Yeshivah bochorim—martyrs—killed by an Israeli Arab terrorist who’d worked as a trusted driver for the Yeshivah. His victims were joyously learning Torah as they bled to death in the rectangular shaped Library—on top of their rectangular shaped Talmuds two weeks before Purim some two months ago. The calendars and computer screens that mark time are of course also rectangular shaped.


The terrorist’s family, clan, and village mourned him—the terrorist—for a week in their rectangular shaped tent, not condemning the murders done by their beloved son.


The Mohel, perhaps a half-generation younger than I—he a young grandfather—has grandchildren now sleeping in their rectangular shaped cribs and rectangular shaped baby carriages. May they be fruitful and multiply.


I had to contain myself from not crying nor screaming nor shrieking out loud from my mind’s image of the Mohel’s son, a young poet, laying in his rectangular fresh grave as I stood next to the Mohel opposite the rectangular sunlight shining on the rectangular fresh food table in the rectangular Jewish Quarter of the rectangular Old City of Jerusalem, as we, the Mohel and I—and all others—stood side by side during the two-minutes of silent standing following the mournful crying screaming shrieking sirens on this Yom Ha Shoah, Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Memorial Day in Jerusalem, in Israel, and all over this planet wherever such is observed and not denied.




“Amcha”—the 20+year-old Israeli organization, founded by a Dutch Jewish Holocaust Survivor, for professional psychological and social support of Holocaust Survivors; and the “Second Generation”—their offspring; and the “Third Generation”—grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors.  The word “Amcha” was a password used during the Holocaust, whispered from Jew to Jew, to know who one was dealing with in life-threatening times.


“Bochorim”—Hebrew and Yiddish, plural for “bochor”—young male Yeshivah student[s].






2011, now, is one century

Since my deceased Daddy

Was born.


2011, now, is nine decades

Since my deceased Mommy

Was born.


2011, now, is my first retirement year,

Called “Old-Age Pensionnaire”

In Hebrew, here.


2011, now at age 62 I ran ten kilometers

In the First Jerusalem Marathon

And took home a very heavy round bronzed medallion.


2011, now, last week,

I noticed the first three gray hairs

At her temples, up her cheeks


In my 32-year-old daughter’s

Dark honey-blond long luscious

Sensuous floppy flowing hair.


This is the year, 2011, I witness

My dirty-blond thinning hair

Going from gold to silver.


My own hair doesn’t make me

Feel old.

But my daughter’s hair does.


She suggested she dye it.

I laughed,

And said: I forbade it.


To dye or not

To die, that is

The question?






            May 2001 Jerusalem

            Yom HaAtzma’outh (Israeli Independence Day)


Gun-fire or fire-works?

Damn those terrorists

Damn those jerks

More gun-fire; G-d I’m tired.


Fifty-third  “Atzma’outh” Anniversary

Oh my G-d: Absurdity.


Went to Shul, went t’Efrata

Debated myself, if I ought ta


Almost didn’t go, almost didn’t show

Shall I walk by our  “Berlin wall;”

But they say, I’m not so tall, so

Maybe the bullets’ll sail . . .

Over my head, and I shan’t be

All that dead?


Stay at home or celebrate outside?

Darn it, I must decide!


Went to Shul, davenned Hallel;

Din’t ask th’ enemy t’ go t’ Hell.


 “Gaba’eet “ insisted I stay  ‘n dine

‘Twas of no use . . . I tried t’ decline,

As she convinced me all too well.


Food was great, my mood improved

‘N Local Joe guitar’d us with

Old-fashioned tunes.


Guest speaker was smart enough

Not to preach;  rather,

T’  entertain us with a

Relevant speech.


Neither moralizing nor polarizing

Nor imploring nor ignoring

Past wars and scars

From our present-day wars.


But...that un-welcome sound

On familiar ground, it’s been

Seven months of machine-gun rounds.


We heard it again, we quietly shrieked,

Some got up, out of our synagogue seats.


We mildly yelled at each other:

Fire-works,  or,  machine-gun fire?

Some ran out doors to take a look;

Most sat in our seats and clenched our teeth.


Eventually I too walked home

Electing main-street Gilo

On the fire-works side

Leaving aside the  “Berlin wall “

A big-black-hole of Nothingness

Walking home, breathing G-dliness


Getting home with Holiness.

Getting home from a great big mess.

Getting home.   Emptiness.

Getting home.   Empty-nest.

Getting home.   That’s the best.

Getting home.   Away from blasts.

Getting home safe.


While it lasts.






How will I know thee

To see thee for the




“You might just get to know


If you will not insist on speaking



You might attempt to trick me to reveal my


You might attempt to goad me to reveal my



You might query me for my height,

My coloring, my physique.


But, you shall know me by my winter-green


— pastel platform sandals —green—


And you might just get to know something else,

Somewhere, somehow—in-between.




from Kick “It” Cancer Ongoing Poetry Series

Genesis: March 2014 

by Sue Tourkin Komet


IT’S NOT LIGHTNING    12 March 2014 PM hours post-surprise diagnosis


It’s not lightning,

It’s not thunder,

It’s not a tsunami.


Not fire,

Nor ice,

Nor fireworks.


It’s only my cancer dancing


Kicking up a storm


Dancing wildly








I HAVE “IT”     March 13 2014 PM


I have “it”


“It” has me.


“It” sneaked in my back door,

Ever     so     quietly.


But I’ll fight “it”

To my death

And I’ll live “it”

In my life.


I’ll kick “it” as

It kicks me

I’ll punch “it” as

It punches me.


I’ll hate “it” as

It hates me.


And I’ll love “it”  as


Loves               (or: “it”leaves)




THIS BURNING BUSH IS           30 April 2014 5:00 am to 6:00 am


This Burning Bush is

This dawn-light in me

This day-light in me

The dusk-light in me

This moon-light in me.


This Burning Bush is

This cancer in me

The chemo-t in me

The pain, the strain,

This drain on me.


This Burning Bush is

The nausea

The numbness

The “nothingness”

In me.


This Burning Bush is

This fire in me,

The will-power in me,


This spit-fire in me,

The desire in me,

This life in me.


This Burning Bush is

The quiet agony

The sublime secrecy

The overt ambivalencies

And others’ widespread decencies.


The Burning Bush is

Moshe Rabbeinu’s


Am Yisrael’s



The Burning Bush is

My mortality





The Burning Bush is

All of you

And all of me

For all’s

Eternal eternity.


This Burning Bush

Is this poem in me

This poem out of me

F or a brief moment in eternity.

And The Bush



Be consumed.



ONE-BY-ONE, MY BEST      7 May 2014 early morning


One-by-one, my best





My hair-cut’s


And I



I insist


No, No, No

It’s not so



It’s the


It’s the

Chemo - hair-cut.


They all mean well

They all mean good

But for me if I could

I would not have had it cut.


I can’t get them all

To shut up

They all think

It’s so cute, my cut.


For me, it’s basically,

The darling sweetsy cutesy lovable beautiful and cute cancer-cut.



THE SIDE-EFFECTS or THE LAST SUPPER? 7 May 2014 late morning


My singular Jerusalemite daughter

Successfully and obsessively

Planned months in advance

For her thirty-fifth

Birthday ... dinner party.


The Master of The Universe

Successfully and obsessively

Planned priorly

And simultaneously


For the onset

And the drama

Of my cancer



We had

The successful

And stressful

Dinner party


At a glorious setting.

All Sabra First-Cousins

Of my daughter’s generation

Traveled up to Jerusalem


From Beersheva and Tel Aviv

Modi’in and Ma’aleh Adumim


And points beyond ... in-between.


While I at The Table

Long and horizontal

Pseudo-secretly battled

The many side-effects of my “chemo,”


Noting retrospectively

That each of my three nephews

All born in The Land of Israel

Bear strong resemblance


To “what’s-his-name”

... Not to name him ...


Of the infamous fable

Seated at that historic table


Surrounded by his disciples


At the

Last Supper.


Let’s have an “Encore!”

...Not of the cancer...

But of The Dinner,

“Next Year in Jerusalem!” —

Not the

Last Supper.

Not The Last Supper.




Parabolic: [1] of or like a parabola, and / or [2] allegorical.
She never flunked out; she was a B-minus, C-plus, C-minus student. Her one “F” was in French, and wasn’t an “F” anyhow the capital letter of “French”? He never came close to flunking out—a strictly B-plus, B-minus student.
He was Pareve—neither Milchig nor Fleishig.
They intersected in that B-minus territory—he not too brilliant and she not too dull. Her father: Head Professor of Physics at a Top-Ten University in the Mid-West. His father: top physicist for The Government, rumored to have been with The Manhattan Atom Bomb Project, previously living in the desolated deserted distant Los Alamos—a rumor, for sure. There were hush-hush stories how his parents secretly imported a Mohel from far-away Chicago on a very circuitous route—for sure non-direct—out to Arizona or New Mexico to do a circumcision on a First Born Son, as no outsider should know about their deep top secret underground warrens of Building-the-Bomb activities. The baby boy himself barely had a Bar Mitzvah thirteen years later, coming from an almost-assimilated family ...
She & He—wealthy suburbanite junior-high “temple” non-Kosher Jewish youth group sweethearts, dated each other exclusively and virtuously all through high school, engaged the first year of college, married a year later. She, the college drop-out, not a flunk-out, but hanging in there with her C-pluses and B-minuses, so that at least he’d finish his B.A. They never spoke of math or money as their well-off parents were footing the bill and all .expenses paid for the three grandchildren born within five years of the young marriage.
I was making my way, half-way cross-country U.S.A., East Coast to Mid-West, to inwardly silently say good-bye to my Stateside birthplace before immigrating back to my Holy Land Homeland.
Friends of friends of mine set me up for Sabbath hospitality with this off-campus couple, so seemingly phlegmatic, whose passions poured forth into their progeny. Not an easy handful—the eldest kid wasn’t necessarily retarded, but was terribly clumsy and slow. The middle one, bright but hyperactive, seemed neither diagnosed nor drugged. Third one —nebbach—a beautiful baby, seemed perfect, but I was shocked to hear afterwards that the baby had Tay-Sachs disease and was edging towards degeneration and a very likely shortened life-span. I sucked in my breath, envisioning the young couple, childhood sweethearts, younger than I, maybe having to sit Shivah for their beautiful and beloved child, a few years henceforth. By then I would be terribly busy as a young social worker in Jerusalem in a hospital during the 1973 Israeli Yom Kippur War ...
Their old wooden frame house—bought by their parents as a joint wedding present for their “college kids”—had seen better days. It was fixed up but superficially so. I nearly tripped on their thick shaggy wall-to-wall carpet and hugged my shoulders to keep warmer. Their home was warm in a family way, but chilly in a drafty way. The husband / father carne home from Sabbath Eve prayers elated and defeated, a B-minus, B-plus, B.A. Student.
His eldest ran in slow motion, the middle one at high speed, and the youngest kicked in cuddly booties with feet that wouldn’t be running in a few years.
The other guest—a younger undergraduate—and I, patiently waited while our hostess set the table, as she wouldn’t accept help from first-time guests, though I offered to do so. The man of the household finally made Kiddush after struggling in a monotone to sing Shalom Aleichem to the angels and “A Woman of Valor” to his wife whose wig was dangling at a dangerous angle off her tired pretty baby-face with dark circles under her eyes. Jump-starting they were, from non-observant Jewish country-club bagel-and-lox university-educated families to becoming born-again borderline early 1970’s rural state-capital small-town American Chassidim.
We all traipsed back and forth over the shaggy carpet, over the old wooden saggy floorboards for our ritual hand-washings, after Kiddush over Kosher wine. Host and hostess were struggling to be grown-ups as their minds wandered back to their meeting as overgrown children at age 14, a decade earlier: then without Kiddush, without libations, without motsei lechem over the challah raisin-breads, without Kosher cuisine, without Mikveh, without Hebrew, without Sabbath or Sabbath guests, without a Kehillah, without daily prayers, without the monthly New Moon, without benedictions over all foods, without wigs, without wall-to-wall carpets on saggy floors.
Soup time finally came.
Our hostess dutifully and lovingly served her husband, bypassing their mildly fussy baby in the highchair, another one running berserk, and another one wandering aimlessly in a tipsy way. I offered to serve the other guest and the hostess finally compromised and let me serve myself, which was a struggle over the carpet on a wobbly floor with cluttered toys. She then rushed to serve the guest his clear broth in a broad shallow china bowl, as fast as a tired young woman could rush, and in a tiny split-second while she maneuvered the saggy floor, his whole serving sailed out of the bowl in a perfect parabola through the heated chilly air onto and into the shaggy carpet, unknown to the lady of the house whose eyes were fixed elsewhere. She plodded along rapidly, her wig flopped precariously and she quietly and quickly set the empty bowl in front of the undergrad, while he and I somehow successfully did not gasp out loud. The host was busy with his soup and his soup nuts, unseeing the whole scenario. The hostess, also unseeing, gracefully sat down to have her serving. The guest had an empty but damp bowl set before him.
He and I rapidly flickered our eyes back and forth at each other as he quickly tilted his empty bowl towards his whitened face and pretended to slurp down his serving at high speed to finish his soup before it “cooled down.” I did the same with my real serving.
Our Sabbath dinner continued uneventfully ... Later, the husband and wife stumbled competently to put their kids to sleep while we guests cleared the table.
Shabbat Shalom, ministering angels of peace. Come again and go again, Angels of Peace. Come again, curve again, bend about again; form parabolas round about again-round about last week, this week, next week too; last year, this year, next year too.
                         Last Life, This Life, Next Life too.



I didn’t want to grapple

With their ghosts

Who spoke Dutch / Hebrew

Those Israeli / Euro

Immigrant / Sabras

Struck down that sweltering-hot August in the

Melting-pot / smelting-hot




Yes—them—the parents and three

Of their numerous children

Yes—he—the father—who an un-injured nearby

Eye-witness heard 

The father calmly lead his wife and children in

The “S’hma Yisrael”as they all




Bled to death.


I didn’t want to grapple with their ghosts

But yesterday “they” were my hosts—as I was the

Shabbat sleep-over guest in their

Made-over mansion now rented out to



Every doorknob I touched

All the water I flushed

All the dust I didn’t dust

All the rust I ignored

All the locks I locked—and un-locked—

Made me grapple.


Jacob wrestled the Angels at Beit-El—and I—

I wrestled with Neshamot from S’barro’s hell.





Part of the fun... of “poetry slams” in Jerusalem was wondering what I would encounter: “Yankee” English, British English, Canadian, “Aussie” or real African English or Indian [Asian] English?  Or Hebrew or Hindi, Arabic or Afrikaans, French or Farsi [Persian], Dutch or Deutsch, Spanish or Portuguese, or Japanese or Russian or Italian?

Part of the fun ... is where we performed—in the Zusha pub-style candle-lit darkened basement in the Modern Orthodox synagogue Yakar… or... in the T’mol Shilshom [“Yesteryear”] Bookshop-Coffee House-Restaurant first-of-its-kind combo off main-street Jaffa Road Jerusalem.  Part of the fun ... [which I “converted” to] was the mock Olympic-style scoring system [started in 1987 decades ago in Chicago] with poetic “gladiators” dueling it out in front of judges. An American invention—poetry slams—imported into Israel, and not by lil’ ol’ me.

Mentioning duels... part of my fun... was my sighting-out or psyching out which new duo’s at the slams might make their combined ways towards standing together under The Wedding Canopy, especially as I’ve been a professional Match Maker since 1971.  I’m aware of some eighteen persons, a lucky number in Judaism, who were couples at those slams who later tied the knot.  I was at many of those weddings, and a good many children have been born of such duo’s / couples!

Part of the fun... after I’d listened to others read their short stories or imitation James Joyce / Saul Bellow confessional run-on novel-like chapters, in the guise of poetry at slams was to dare to read a RESTAURANT REVIEW of mine written in a Literary and Travelogue Style, de rigueur, causing a modest riot there!

Part of my fun... was my rattling the emcee, brilliant Dr. Mark Kirschbaum, a bone-marrow oncologist [may we never need such treatments] by my occasionally signing up on the sign-up sheet with my pseudonym and when he triumphantly called up a “NEW POET!” and li’l ol’ me perkily slunk up on stage, and he ruefully realized he’d been had,  he hit the ceiling, eliciting the normal hysterical laughter that erupted en mass.  I’d been attending slams non- stop since 1996 so I was hardly a new poet around town.

Part of the fun... was that much of my poetry is morbid & dead serious, so that when I straightforwardly performed a rare satirical or humorous one, like “GONNA BE A POETRY PERFORMER” it also raised the roof, as no one, myself included, expected li’l ol’ me, then looking 30+ but really becoming 50+ to read and perform “rap” poetry. [I barely knew of the “rap” poetry scene when I started to write a few of my own... ]

Part of the fun... was having “fans” surprise me on the streets of Jerusalem to discuss my poems with me.  Once, a towering fan accosted me and grabbed my poem out of my hand, when I went “downstage” because she absolutely had to copy it and email my poem pronto to some Significant Other in the States, and I didn’t even know what email was—then.

Part of the fun is my “reality-show”: a publisher’ll cut me a deal over coffee, cake & poetry?


(first published in the alumni magazine of Case Western Reserve University in 2002)