A loveletter to my baby sister in answer to her question, “Why are you so Jewish?”
our father’s father’s father, who perished in belgium.
our great-grandmother, who sent her son across the sea to georgia from germany.
our grandfather, whose petition for naturalization lists his race as hebrew. our father’s mother’s mother, raised in hungary.
the shabbat dinner on the outskirts of yerushalayim.
the potatoes, thick round slices fried with white onion.
our mother’s mother’s father and mother in vilna.
our great-uncle menachem.
our mother’s father, about whom i can dig up nothing.
all of their prayers, encoded in our dna.
the specificity with which they wend their way.
these empty threads,
the precious little i know of them.
all that we have been cut off from.
everything kept away from us.
the branches of our family tree lost to the shoah,
my nephews’ hair that you refused to cut, despite knowing nothing of upsherin.
our father, placing both hands on our head to kiss us in unintended blessing.
our mother and her reflexive resistance to avoda zara.
our priestly blood,
your red hair,
your beauty and bright light,
shining in spite of exile.
our very existence within the straitjacket of golus.
the way i ache for you.
the taste of aleph-beis on my tongue.
the tambourine beating in my blood.
And now…your EMOJI DVAR TORAH: PARSHA NOACH EDITION!