Saturday, March 30, 2013

5 toward the Omer

"All real living is meeting."
—a quote from Martin Buber

Every once in a while
I talk too much and
forget to listen for God

I realized two days ago
that I also generally fail
to ask God any questions

When writing Grandma these days
I don't ask her questions

so it doesn't feel awkward
that she doesn't write back

but I think God might
or maybe God should feel
just a little bit awkward

4 toward the Omer

There are times when
God seems closer than
the people around me

And other times when
the people around me
seem closer than God

And by closer I
actually mean more real
or more in focus

It’s as if I’m
located at the intersection
of perpendicular planes within
a multidimensional coordinate system

Friday, March 29, 2013

3 toward the Omer

Should I doubt
my sense of
God since it
varies from room
to room and
I've known for
a while that
it really depends
on how much
air is blowing
through the vents

That's really the
reason why I
sense God much
more predictably at
night when taking
a walk or
sitting on a
bench with you

There is a
silence that gives
me a sense
of God in
that low hush
of leaves rustling
in the wind

But maybe I'm
just remembering my
mother's swishy uterus

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Why I wear them today

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Israelites and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments for all generations. They shall attach to the tassel at each corner a thread of blue. This shall be your tassel, and when you visit a woman at Jewish Home Lifecare she shall see it and remember who you are, the girl who wears tassels, and not stray into believing she has not met you before, falling into forgetfulness. Thus you will be reminded to keep all My commandments, and be holy to your God. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God.

2 toward the Omer

I decide
to wait
til later
to praise
the Holy
One Who's
Blessed cuz

I don't
think I
feel like
it quite
yet but

as I
remove my
tefillin I
notice I'm
humming a
tune from
Hallel and

I realize
that I
do indeed
feel like
it but

I decide
to wait
til later
to praise
the Holy
One Who's
Blessed cuz

1 toward the Omer


Monday, March 25, 2013


Almost finished with my pre-Pesach shower
I reach for the clear bottle of
turquoise body wash
"infused with
exfoliating sea salts"

I touch the perfume of our deliverance
to the backs of my ears

Sunday, March 24, 2013


sky yum
scry some
sea moon
I hum
sigh sun
see soon

requested by Joel Goldstein

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

for now I too walk in a world
that seems full of everything except you

based on Psalm 131

It’s been a while.

I don’t expect much anymore,
just go about my days,
bed to school to work to bed.

God, I used to know you were there
but I am not so sure anymore.
I have lost my pride,
my condescension toward agnostics
for now I too walk in a world
that seems full of everything except you.

Do you remember the synagogue
that seemed to have hundreds of pews
and you and I were the only ones there?

Or the time you were in the rainy windy mist
in the parking lot outside of my Hebrew school?

How about the evening at summer camp in Minnesota
where the moon set over the lake just a little too fast
and I became fearful and bowed and pleaded?

And surely you must remember when I sang to you
in a hotel room in DC during high school Model UN
and I didn’t have friends with me and everybody else
was at a dance and I was oh so lonely and I think I cried?

What about those nights at Harvard
when I would sit on the ledge of the largest library
and look out through the branches of a tree at the starry sky
with my arms around my knees in the coolness of the season
and bask in the quiet truth of being with you for timeless minutes?

I don’t think I deserve to see you
more than anyone else does. There is no reason
why I should have superior knowledge of the Divine.
But I miss you
like a weaned child misses her mother,
wondering were you ever there? was it a dream? did I imagine you?
I’ve taught myself to be contented with the occasional glimmer
of connection, not to seek unbidden,
not to reach out.
I’ve learned to think of myself
as grown up.
You don’t have to put your hands on my back as I ride my tricycle
graduate college
enter and leave relationships
Really, I’m fine
just reading your laws
wrapping on boxes
relying on memories

But I am here
waiting for you, God,
now and forever

Trusting in God feels like a hug

based on Psalm 125

Trusting in God feels like a hug,
like trees filled with wind,
like blankets close and warm,
like silence underwater,
like a huddle of puppies,
like enveloping music
of trumpets and harps,
like an unshakable, excellent mood,
like the walls of a library and the arms of an armchair,
like my parents stroking my hair,
like wet grass on my back,
like a tallis, like onesie pyjamas,
like the forts my cousins and I made in the family room
out of chairs and cushions and sleeping bags,
Like the maze of Manhattan. Like a bath full of bubbles.
Like a pile of leaves,
a circle of dancers, a dimly-lit restaurant,
a garden with benches, a shower of sunlight,
a cocoon of hot sand.
I trust and God hugs me
like the hills hug Jerusalem
keeping Zion secure
from the darkest of forces
like an unrolled Torah
hugs a congregation
staring in wonder
at the spaces and letters
like the stars hug the Earth
in their spirals and wheelings
and the penguins their eggs
with webbed feet and underbellies
and great tenderness.
I will not blow away
like so many leaves in a puff
of anger and despair and loneliness
for I trust in my trust
that just as a mother
holds a baby in her arms
God will enfold God’s people
now and forever.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Working with Psalm 119

Amazed and joyful are those who get straight As,
who follow the teaching of the teacher.
Amazed and cheery are those who study diligently,
who follow the teacher’s chalk on the chalkboard.
Always I will sing the praises
of the one who grades my essays.
By which means can a student stay focused?—
by following your instruction.
Because I have resolved to work on this paper,
do not let me open up Facebook.
Beating inside me is a heart
that treasures your writing prompts.
Cast your favor upon me, your student,
that I may graduate and make you proud.
Clean my textbook of mistaken underlining,
that I may perceive the gist of the chapter.
Class is full of spitballs and taunts,
but I still long for your affirming gold stars.
Dust is all I am before you;
make me a human through your guiding words.
Daunted am I in the face of my homework;
keep me awake as I solve the equations.
Day by day I choose to seek out your teaching;
your spelling rules purify my mind and my prose.
Earnest am I in my desire to learn;
teach me to research and write a good abstract.
Everything distracting remove from my vision,
and I will soak up all the words that you say.
Embellishments fill up my peers’ paper margins;
remove me from doodles and bring me to notes.
Feeling your love would encourage me greatly;
give me a pat on the back or the head.
Forever I’ll follow your rules and your methods,
for I have decided to trust in your guidance.
From playground to playground I speak of your greatness;
I am not embarrassed to study my notes.
Give your student a sign that you have not forgotten
to give me a grade that reflects my devotion.
Gone are the days that I played on the playground
with students who mocked you for really little things.
Gratitude fills me at night when I study
for now I am careful to practice with flashcards.
How often have I begged you with all of my heart;
have mercy on me, in accordance with your grading curve.
High GPAs are awarded to others
but I trust in fairness and don’t cheat on finals.
Halfway to dawn I look up from my desk
and praise you for your just rules.
Insights you give me according to my abilities;
you have treated your student well.
In earlier years I too shot some spitballs,
but now I keep your laws.
I prefer the teaching you give me
to thousands of sour jawbreakers.
Joyful will be those who see me obey you,
for I have committed to watching my grammar.
Just as you promised me early in autumn
may your constant attention comfort me.
Jubilantly may I follow your laws
so that I do not go to detention.
Kindness I long for;
I hope for your A.
Kicking and screaming they dragged me through mud,
flouting your playground rules.
Kids in their teasing almost defeated me,
but I still completed my homework.
Long will you stand at the front of the classroom;
your word stands firm in the hallways.
Life is a gift when I follow your teaching;
I am your student; save me!
Laughing they tear up my flashcards and homework
but I ponder your math proofs.
Man oh man how I love your teaching!
It is my study all day long.
More information than in all other years
have I learned from you.
My mind ponders your standards;
therefore I hate all cheating.
Never have I felt more faint;
o teacher, give me an A in accordance with your word.
Negative and positive charges are my eternal heritage;
your lessons are my heart’s delight.
Neither cheaters nor gum chewers
will weaken my resolve.
Oh how I hate the students who cheat,
but I love your teaching.
On til the end of the day you will guide me;
I hope for your comments.
Oration directed at cheaters terrifies me;
I am in awe of your moral code.
Please keep me safe from the fools in the playground,
for I have done what is just and right.
Perjury is rampant within your classroom;
it is a time to act for the teacher.
Place me highly within the grading curve;
give me understanding, that I might know your rubric.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Working with Psalm 122

I rejoiced when he said,
Let’s go to Jerusalem.
Our feet stood inside your gates, O Jerusalem,
stood on flat stone, our hands clutched our knapsack ties,
our eyes lifted up to the clothing above the pathways,
our heads turned to catch the glimmer of a tourist’s earrings,
turned back to hear a merchant.
I sat on a stoop and took photographs of people’s feet
as they descended the shallow steps
and bought a ring that turned my finger green.
I drank coffee in your shops, Jerusalem.
I made pilgrimage to your walls,
put my hand on your walls, closed my eyes, O Jerusalem,
leaned my forehead on your walls, kissed your walls with my forehead
and prayed for the well-being of Jerusalem.