A Poetic Reply To Today’s Terror Attacks

The following is a set of poems and thoughts written by some of Hevria’s writers in reaction to the terror attack that took five lives in a Jerusalem synagogue today.

 

Sarah Tuttle-Singer:

Dear friends and family in America who are just waking up:

There was a terrorist attack in Jerusalem this morning right around the time the sun was bright enough to turn the sky blue.

And here’s what happened: Four men were shot and hacked to death in the middle of the Amidah prayer while praying for “God to grant peace everywhere.”

26 children have had their fathers stolen from them.

I cannot move my lips around the words “blessed is the true judge” while bile rises in my throat.

Yes, I am safe right now. I’m miles and miles away with the kids on the kibbutz.

We’re about to eat ice cream because, what else can we do right now?  When something like this happens, first we weep, then we rage, and then we must laugh.

(But we aren’t laughing yet.)

So yes, I am safe.

And no, I am not OK.

I will not let my eyes grow accustomed to this darkness. I will seek light.

 

Ahava Emunah Lange

Four fathers wrapped in Tefillin.
Draped in Tallit.
Praying.

Murdered during prayer.
In the morning.
Mourning.

Sadness, anger, confusion all around. What next?
“Mommy, I’m scared!” Say my children.

I explain that there are good people and bad people, good Arabs and bad Arabs.

“You’re safe. I will protect you,” I promise them.

My home. My heart.
Our homeland.
Peace.

“How do we know who is bad and who is good, Mommy?” They ask me with innocent eyes.

What will I tell them?

Note: The image below is from Ahava Emunah’s phone, when her daughter (an eight grader who is studying in an area close to the attack) reached out to her after the attack.

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David Karpel

Gd, I don’t want to talk to You today.

Today I was late for work.
I couldn’t tear myself away from the news.
Pesha and Eldad and their four boys.
Hadassah and Levi and their white page future.
Friends, family, brothers and sisters.
All of them in imminent danger from missiles,
from weaponized cars, from bullets, from blades.
No place is safe.
And I am at a desk.
There are books, papers needing grading,
cold water, hot coffee,
an apple.

I am enraged.
Not a good place to be
when high school girls
are depending on you
to teach them, to learn
from ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’
or “Do Not Go Gentle
Into That Good Night.”

I am enraged.
I blasted Metallica on the way in.
Wasn’t enough.
I screamed my throat raw at a red light.
Wasn’t enough.
Helpless, paralyzed,
with a heart pounding rage against my rib cage.
My sternum hurts.
And all I can do is pray?
Gd, I don’t want to talk to You today.

 

Rochel Spangenthal

The frost played with my hair on the way to work this morning.

Today, unlike most days, I don’t feel like playing. And the cold which normally chills my bones doesn’t reach beyond my skin.

Because today? Today I am fire. I am fire against the senseless hatred. I am burning against the feeling of being unsafe within one’s home. Against the mixture of prayers for peace and blood. Those two things are not supposed to mix together. That combination goes against nature. It goes against miracles.

Like oil and water, the two are never supposed to touch.

Today, I feel fear as I say my prayers about trust. Today, I feel urgency as I say my prayers about redemption. Today, I do not request G-d’s help, I demand it.

Today, I show extra love in rebellion of extra violence in the hope that somehow… in some way… it makes a difference.

 

Elad Nehorai

One day: laughter, calm, happiness
Next day: death, destruction, pain
Then: war, rockets, world condemnation
The end: stillness, licking wounds, reverberations hidden

Take breath

One day: laughter, calm, happiness
Next day: death, destruction, pain
Then: war, rockets, world condemnation
The end: stillness, licking wounds, reverberations hidden

Take breath

One day: laughter, calm, happiness
Next day: death, destruction, pain
Then: war, rockets, world condemnation
The end: stillness, licking wounds, reverberations hidden

Take breath

One day: laughter, calm, happiness
Next day: death, destruction, pain
Then: war, rockets, world condemnation
The end: stillness, licking wounds, reverberations hidden

 

MaNishtana

it is a sad thing indeed when
death
cannot be simply mourned and

murder
cannot be heartily condemned
because fact and fiction
isolated event and intersectionality
church (state) and state (church)
detatched onlooker and emotional bystander
when lives lose value
across the passage of time
and the ambiguity of our wrong rights
and right wrongs
drowns us all

 

Yaakov Lehman

Terror strikes,
paralyzing.
Heart heavy in grief.
Tearing, gnawing, ripping
all sense and sensibility, shreds.
Guilt, weighing heavy on the soul
I too walked into a Tuesday morning synagogue in the land of Israel

Why?
The orphans, 26
The widows, 4
The reason, 1
Jew

Optimism,
My days otherwise filled with exuberance and innovation
A new spiritual atmosphere coalescing above
Ethereal lights taking shape in sleek vessels of a new era
The dawn of exasperated millennia rising before our very eyes
Progress…

Shattered,
Noxious glitches in this world of elegance
Passionate dreams doused in cold, coarse, corporeal reality
Blood soaked prayer shawls, raw massacre close at hand
Too close
Too real

Across town they pass out sweets
Celebrating ‘victory’,
delusion,
and Void

I sit, gripping my forehead,
Praying, earnestly praying from the bottom of my heart
Awaiting…
Transformation.

 

Yocheved Sidof

I want to say something. Anything to take away the pain.
But instead I’ve been kicked hard to the ground

Lying on my back, kicked and kicked over again
Boots knocking against my body
The breath stamped out of me, each thrust a blow to my heart inside
Each kick a time you killed us, maimed us, dispelled us, tortured us, gassed us, raped us, axed us, knifed us
Blew us to pieces.
Each kick a time you hushed us, ignored us, demonized us, tricked us, marginalized us, questioned us
Told us it was our fault.
I’m lying on the ground recoiling in so much pain.
Listening to the cries of orphans and parents and brothers and sisters and wives and husbands and lovers and babies and neighbors and soldiers and friends
Listening to the wailing of prayers and tears.
Listening to the howls of bloodied Mitzvot.
I’m out of breath.
Can’t bear the weight of all these boots and blows on me anymore.

 

Chaya Lester

Ah, so this is what it feels like to be in America
reading the Israeli news.
Broken and sickened, yet slightly distant.
Thankful for the mute button
on the computer
to shield my 7-year old daughter
from this news that hits too-close-to-home
that a synagogue in Har Nof has been bloodied by terror
just around the corner from her beloved school
where today she is not in classes
did not deal with the security drill
and the sirens shrill.
Today she will be spared
the homework assignment
of her mother’s fumbling explanation
that sometimes there are bad people
like snakes in the backyard
and no way to lock the door