No Cookies For You! – A Poem for Haftarah Vayeishev by Rick Lupert


When I got to the Book of Amos, I was disappointed
he wasn’t the same guy who made the cookies.

In fact, he spent a lot of time admonishing people
for behavior which left them not deserving of cookies at all.

The ones who sold other ones for money,
the ones who took advantage of the poor,

the ones who refused to tell the future despite
the gift they’d been given to see it.

A slew of punishments are given to those who
chose not to behave in accordance with the

holy light they were bathed in. The stout hearted
were sent to flee naked on the day of admonishment.

Can you imagine, instead of prison, you’re stripped
of your clothes and sent on your way.

Hard not to pick out the improprieters in a crowd
with their impropriety on full display.

We who were taken out of the narrow place
given all the love. We who complained and

threw our brother into a pit. This love is
a two-way street. We’d better keep our clothes on

if we ever want a cookie.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos Angeles poet Rick Lupert created the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 21 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion“, “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “A Poet’s Siddur: Shabbat Evening“,  “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

That’s All


“When I was a kid,” he said, “I used to stare up at the moon and think it a window.”

I turned to the man beside me, dressed in all white from kippah down, and asked:

“A window to where?”

He closed his eyes.

“A world just next door; a world of pure light all around, as far as the eye can see.”

“That’s all? Just light?” I asked.

“That’s All.” He said.


Hannah Arin is a junior at Pitzer College pursuing a double major in religious studies and philosophy.

Lay Down Your Spears and Tweets – A Poem for Haftarah Vayishlach by Rick Lupert


Apparently it’s common Jewish knowledge that
the Roman empire descends from Isaac’s son Esau.
I just learned it today from the prophet Obadiah.

Not him personally, we’ve never met, but in
the book he wrote. He was a minimalist whose
entire book was one chapter, twenty-one verses.

As a fan of all things very short, I like his style.
I’d like him to take a crack at rewording some of
the more wordy portions of the Bible.

Though he does get a bit warny in the process.
All great empires will fall in deference to the liberators.
I’m paraphrasing but you don’t see

too many Roman Centurions building aqueducts
these days so I guess he was on to something.
Rome who destroyed the second Temple

who was descended from Edom, also known
as Esau, brother to Jacob, grandchildren of Abraham
parents to us all.

Can we trace every living person back to
one family? Does this make all earthly conflicts
nothing but family squabbles?

I think it’s time we lay down our spears and tweets
and tricky bowls of soup. I think it’s time we
got the family back together for a festive meal.

Here’s to tents without walls.
Here’s to earth without borders.
Here’s to identifying people with only
the words fellow human.

Here’s to Obadaiah.
We won’t hear from him again.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos Angeles poet Rick Lupert created the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 21 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion“, “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “A Poet’s Siddur: Shabbat Evening“,  “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

The Pomegranate Tree


I dare not pick the fruit before

it is ready and ripe.

Ready and red it will reveal

itself to me; its countless seeds

ready to eat. A crack in its side,

it will open itself to be seen,

but only when it is good and ready.

Until then, I’ll wait patiently.

Trusting in nature’s processes,

knowing that the longer I wait

the sweeter the juice will be.

So when that slice in the side

breaks apart, a door opened,

a fertile heart, I swear I’ll savor

each moment of labor,

delicately dissecting each juicy jewel.

I’ll give praise for every stain of red

upon my hands and lips.

I’ll remember the moments

of heavy hunger and how I met them

with trust, not lust.

And I’ll remember

I’ll remember,

I’ll remember the timeless Tree

that brings my love, right here, to me.


Hannah Arin is a junior at Pitzer College pursuing a double major in religious studies and philosophy.

A Road Poem for Haftarah Vayetzei by Rick Lupert


The road is long
The road is long but
still leads to where you are going

The road may take fourteen years
Don’t let the u-turn at seven alarm you
Keep on the road

The u-turn is all
part of the plan
The road will not lie to you

You may not be prepared for
the weather along the road
the fork in the road

the spoon in the road
the Golden Calf in the road
Don’t jump off the road

Don’t wander into the woods
Don’t hire people to
build a different road

This is the road built
by the Great Road Builder
in the sky

The sky where there
are no roads but
we’re all on our way there

after this road
this road with the turns
and confusing signs

and uncomfortable surfaces
Despite all this
I would drive this road

any multiple of
fourteen years to end up
in her arms


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos Angeles poet Rick Lupert created the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 21 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion“, “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “A Poet’s Siddur: Shabbat Evening“,  “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

Don’t Shoot the Malachi – A Poem for Haftarah Toledot by Rick Lupert


Don’t shoot the Malachi,
he’s just the messenger
and it may not have

been his name because
Malachi means my messenger.
In fact don’t shoot anyone.

It’s uncomfortable for them
and makes the news and
causes arguments about

whether instruments that
shoot should exist or not.
Just listen to the messages.

You don’t have to agree with
the messages, but hear them out.
They come from on high.

They are responses to
what you have given. So
not only should you

not shoot the Malachi, but
when it’s your turn to give
from what you have

give the best you’ve got.
Don’t give the blemished offerings
the sickly sacrifices, the calf

with the broken leg.
The One who sent the messenger
will know the difference.

Don’t shoot the messenger
for reminding you to do what
you promised you’d do.

We children of Jacob
We who came second
after a foot.

We who forever got to
go first just for a bowl of soup.
Don’t shoot the messenger.

That’s the kind of thing
that will come back to
bite you in your foot.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos Angeles poet Rick Lupert created the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 21 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion“, “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “A Poet’s Siddur: Shabbat Evening“,  “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

King David of Thrones – A Poem for Haftarah Chayei Sarah by Rick Lupert


As a fan of subscription television
I’m as concerned as the next person about
who is in line to sit on the throne.

And if this saves you the trouble
of reading it yourself, rest assured
King David’s top pick, Solomon

is guaranteed that spot
despite the chariot infested uppityness
of his brother Adonijah.

What concerns me more though
is how cold King David is and
extra blankets aren’t doing the job.

This is long before space heaters
and a local virgin is brought in to
provide the warmth.

This is all to tell us David is
getting old and the matter of
the ascension is at hand.

But in this post Biblical era
where our most beloved famous people
practically modern kings

are tumbling because they
attempted to get Biblical with
local virgins, I’m finding it difficult to

focus on the Royal election.
Keep driving, oh charioteers.
Warmth is earned by love

or at least warmth.
A king is not entitled to
grab what he pleases

especially not when
it is my subscription dollars
funding the operation.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos Angeles poet Rick Lupert created the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 21 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion“, “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

Waiting for the Sky to Explode – A Poem for Haftarah Vayera by Rick Lupert


I remember the time I was at Disneyland with my beloved.
We were just a year into our love and everything was magic.

So when the voiceover came on in the park and said
anything’s possible, if you believe, I believed.

And then, as if to confirm my conviction, the sky exploded
as it does every night in that place, which is holy to anyone

who has fended off adult cynicism as long as I have.
So it’s not hard to believe the stories of the prophet

Elisha, holy man with a woman’s name, (we were the first
line crossers…) who gave a poor woman so much oil

she started a fossil fuel company and lived comfortably
on the profits all her days. Or the story of the woman

as old as our mother Sarah, who also had a child when
Elisha made a special arrangement with the original

Walt Disney on high. Or later how that child took to death
after a headache, but was immediately revived when

the prophet’s mouth was put on his. It may have been the first
mouth to mouth resuscitation but the implication is divine magic.

I don’t think I laughed like Sarah when I was told a child
was on the way. In fact it was one of the only speechless

moments of my life. But I see the miracles every day.
Something made from nothing, food purchased from

the sale of art, and the astonishment that breath continues
to come in and out of my lungs no matter what I do.

I believe in magic and I’m always ready for
the sky to explode.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos Angeles poet Rick Lupert created the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 21 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion“, “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

I Still Find Idols Enchanting – A Poem for Haftarah Lech Lecha by Rick Lupert


These are the idols I cling to
despite the ancient encouragement
not to

The large television
The multi-function toaster
the well assembled hand-held
communication device that feels
so significant in my fingers

These are the idols I cling to
despite the initial spark of Jewish –
one guy, breaking them all down

Feeding anything with fur
I think the ancient Egyptians were
really on to something when they
elevated the common house-cat

These are the idols I cling to
despite my admission that I am
but a worm of Jacob

Artistry over solvency
Lottery over hard work
The joke that destroys the
necessary silence

These are the idols I cling to
and the list is longer than the promises
made to me by the Ultimate Promise Maker

The One who told me I could crush the mountains
with Her at my back
The One who lets me say Her.
The one who told me the wind will
carry all this dust away.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos Angeles poet Rick Lupert created the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 21 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion“, “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

Led Zeppelin Has Ruled Eternally – A poem for Haftarah Noach by Rick Lupert


When mountains crumble to the sea
there would still be you and me

“Thank you” – Led Zeppelin / Robert Plant

By these waters of Babylon, which, as best as I can tell,
we will only be wading in for another five minutes.

It feels like we’ve been babbling on for so long
we don’t know how to babble off.

Our jilted lover, the Holy Land, sits like an empty womb
waiting for us to fill her up. She doesn’t know why we’ve gone

or why it’s been so long, or if we’ll ever come back.
There’s just the emptiness and all it probably means.

But like the promise of the rainbow, Isaiah, the Robert Plant of his day,
reminds us this Relationship goes well beyond our own lives.

You may flood or wildfire or hurricane our buildings away
but consider it just a lover’s spat. This is the Love of all Loves

The Love that says Hey remember where that mountain
used to be? I just cleared it away to make more room for

how I feel about you. It’s almost time to start walking south.
Our back is gotten. We’ve got a nation to knock up.

…and don’t let that image get you all out of sorts.
It’s just a metaphor. These are all just metaphors.

You don’t think a mountain really crumbled into the sea
do you? Or maybe you know of one which did

in which case there may be a lot more to this
then you were ever willing to believe.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos Angeles poet Rick Lupert created the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 21 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion“, “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

Let’s Rest Before It Even Starts – a poem for Haftorah Breishit by Rick Lupert


Sela

Eight hundred years before
the common era and we
pick up this beginning in the
middle of a conversation.

Isaiah, talking the talk of
the Prize Fighter. Reminding us
who’s had our backs
(and our fronts) this whole time,
since the first blade of grass
touched the first human foot.

Sela

Let’s sing a new song.
Let’s remember when the Earth
still had that new planet smell,
long before enemies were
vanquished on our behalf
by the One who exchanged
ribs like Legos.

Sela

Babylonia may be lovely this
time of year, but for some reason
this vacation makes us fill the river
with our tears.

It’s a long way home and
the turnpike is on fire.
It’s okay – We’ve got the
double capitalized triple A.
Roadside Service Deluxe.
Available twenty four hours day.

Sela

It’s almost three thousand years later
All I can see is gold.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos Angeles poet Rick Lupert created the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 21 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion“, “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

A candlelight vigil is pictured on the Las Vegas strip following a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. Picture taken October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Poem: A Prayer for the Victims


Our hearts are breaking, God,
As our nation buries innocent souls.
The loss is overwhelming.
Send comfort and strength, God, to grieving family members

In this time of shock and mourning.

Send healing to the injured

And strength and wisdom to their doctors and nurses.
Shield them from despair.
Ease their pain, God,
Let their fears give way to hope.

Bless us, God,
Work through us.
Turn our helplessness into action.
Teach us to believe that we can rise up from this tragedy
With a renewed determination to end gun violence

And a renewed faith in the goodness of our society.
Shield us from indifference
And from our tendency to forget.
Open our hearts, open our hands.
Innocent blood is calling out to us to act.
Remind us that we must commit ourselves to prevent further bloodshed
With all our hearts and souls.
Teach us perseverance and dedication.
Let us rise up as one in a time of soul-searching and repair.

God of the brokenhearted,
God of the living, God of the dead,
Gather the souls of the victims
Into Your eternal shelter.
Let them find peace in Your presence, God.
Their lives have ended
But their lights can never be extinguished.
May they shine on us always
And illuminate our way.
Amen.


RABBI NAOMI LEVY is the spiritual leader of Nashuva in Los Angeles. Her most recent book is “Einstein and the Rabbi: Searching for the Soul” (Flatiron Books).

The Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Photo by Ethan Miller/Reuters

The Mandalay


The water flows to our valley through pipes
and fills a tank. Sharks swim there. Circling.
Circling themselves in the confines of a crystal clear cage.

People stare and smile and circle themselves,
about and about the exhibit. Who would’ve thunk?
A shark, here, in the middle of the desert.

The water flows to our valley through pipes
and flows through many more and
finally rains down upon golf greens and gardens.

The flowers bloom and the grounds grow
and the sun singes away at their edges,
browning and blurring,
crumbling and turning,
overexposed to the bright lights
of our valley.

But how?

Its heavy metal hand,
the metal wind,
stiffened the stocks and stems.
It’s taken the heart of life and lifted it from its mother,
laid it out upon the land which was never meant
to foster so much life, no, no not like this;
never meant to orchestrate such obscurities.

We brought what was not meant to thrive in a land
with a specific kind of alive
and we worshipped the gods of backwards ways
cups filled, dues payed, a blatant disregard for the worth of our days.
We worshipped the night, and set our eyes upon
synthetic stars and street lights.

The water flows to our valley through pipes.
We flipped nature on its head and we wonder:
Why did this happen? How could this happen?

I fear we’ve forgotten the power of our passions,
the prayers offered through actions,
and now it’s taken its toll.

The water flows to our valley through pipes
and we wonder how something so unnatural,
so antithetical to life could find itself here…
in our valley.


Hannah Arin is a junior at Pitzer College pursuing a double major in religious studies and philosophy. 

Promises Worth Breaking – A poem for Kol Nidre by Rick Lupert


All vows –
This legal document
written in unholy language

a prenuptial agreement
for our inevitable failing.
This relationship with

the year itself
a contract awaiting
the biggest signature.

Please, cancel my subscription
but charge my card anyway.
I don’t deserve the content.

Every promise I make
a guaranteed broken one
between today and

a year’s worth of
Jewish days from now.
The next time the shofar

is dusted off,
we’ll have this conversation again.
Forgive me this year

and last year and next.
Forgive everyone who ever
stood at the mountain.

Forgive our promises
our oaths, our vows, all vows
You made the whole world

and on this day and every day
You knew this would happen.
Pardon me. Please.


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos Angeles poet Rick Lupert created the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 21 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion“, “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

Horn Blowing


We’re Jewish, Father said,
so we don’t go to church. We
go to temple. Christians like
to ring bells. We like to blow
horns — the shofar — particularly
on the Jewish New Year. I don’t
see why musical differences
should make it hard to get along.


Hal Sirowitz is the author of five books of poetry: “Mother Said,” “My Therapist Said,” “Before,
During & After,” “Father Said” and “Stray Cat Blues.” His work has been translated into 13 languages and has been featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and  PBS’ “The United States of Poetry.” pGarrison Keillor has read many of Sirowitz’s poems on NPR’s “The Writer’s Almanac.”

7 Haiku for Parsha Ki Tavo (in which God and the Jewish people ‘make it official’) by Rick Lupert


I
Wheat, barley, dates, figs
grapes, pomegranates, olives –
The first ones are God’s

II
Tithes is a word that
makes me feel like I should go
and see a dentist

III
God and the Jewish
people make it official
like sweet Valentines

IV
All that we have done
and all we’ll do – carved on stones
pulled from a river

V
We shout blessings and
curses to two mountains – What
did they ever do?

VI
For the love of God
please don’t curse my kneading bowl
I’ll follow the rules

VII
Gifts – A heart to know,
eyes to see, and ears to hear
Creation goes on


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos Angeles poet Rick Lupert created the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 21 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion“, “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

Seven haiku for Parsha Ki Teitzei (you’ll need an extra bag for all these laws) by Rick Lupert


I
I am not sure I
would leap right to stoning the
rebellious child

II
Don’t crossdress says the
Torah – lifetimes and lifetimes
before tolerance

III
Flat roofs require
rails. Israeli contractors
get your license here

IV
So many laws in
this Parsha – I should have brought
an extra suitcase

V
These laws of divorce
our love is so strong – I’m not
going to read them

VI
If you do not want
to go to war, your best bet
is to get married

VII
Don’t forget what
Amalek did to us, or
anyone like him


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos Angeles poet Rick Lupert created the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 21 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion“, “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

7 Haiku for Parsha Re’eh (in which we’re reminded where our tushies need to go) by Rick Lupert


I
Blessings or curses –
Choose your mountain carefully
You only get one

II
Your intention when
slaughtering a cow matters
and the location

III
Your voodoo doesn’t
matter if you don’t come with
divine credentials

IV
Body ink may look
cool but it ain’t Kosher – And
don’t eat flying bugs

V
One tenth of your food
shall be eaten in the place
that God will show you

VI
What a world we could
have if we forgave our debts
every seven years

VII
Passover, Sukkot,
Shavuot – Get your male
Tushles to the Shul


God Wrestler: a poem for every Torah Portion by Rick LupertLos Angeles poet Rick Lupert created the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 21 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion“, “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

7 Haiku for Parsha Va’etchanan (in which Moses gets to look but no touch) by Rick Lupert


I
No, Moses, you can
not enter – But check out the
view from this mountain

II
Did I mention we
should follow God’s commandments?
On every page.

III
Setting up cities
of refuge – the non holy
side of the river

IV
A repeat of the
Ten Commandments – Typical
for summer viewing

V
What will the people
do without Moses acting
as emissary

VI
Start with these words – Put
them everywhere – Your doors – your
foreheads – everywhere

VII
Leave no trace of the
Canaanites when you cross the
river – not a speck


Los Angeles poet Rick Lupert created the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 21 collections of poetry, including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion“, “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

7 haiku for Parsha Chukat (The Red Cow Cures All) by Rick Lupert


I
It just takes one dose
of perfectly red cow to
cure what ails you

II
Forty years go by –
What happened during those years
was not written down

III
You can understand
the hesitation when told
to speak to a rock

IV
Howdy neighbor – Mind
if we pass through? No problem –
We will go around

V
You have to admire
Storytellers who kill off
major characters

VI
This is where all God’s
water comes from – Spring up, oh
well – and sing to it

VII
I think we will pass
through after all – that Land is
forty years coming


Los Angeles poet Rick Lupert created a the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 20 collections of poetry, including “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

7 haiku for Parsha Korach (my almond blossoms are bigger than yours) by Rick Lupert


I
Moses heard and fell
on his face, it says – It was
all very slapstick

II
The future will be
decided on the scent of
rebellious incense

III
Does killing all the
dissenters always have to
be the go to plan?

IV
It’s become clear I’ve
underestimated the
value of incense

V
Always men and our
contest of staffs – My almond
blossoms are biggest

VI
And the descendants
of Aaron shall forever
live in apartments

VII
Levites – Your temple’s
professional staff – Give them
the best from your vats


Los Angeles poet Rick Lupert created a the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 20 collections of poetry, including “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

Looking towards Someday

Someday by Jean Berman, March ‘17


[Ed. Note: this is a poem submitted for publication in the Expired and Inspired Blog by one of our own. — JB]

Written in my 63rd year with peace, wonder, and gratitude for my life.

Someday I will not hear rain tapping on the roof

feel wet drops on my face,

smell the clean, fresh air.

Someday I will not feel

like I have plenty of time,

choices of what to do in that time.

Someday I will not feel my boots crunch

through heavy snow to soft earth,

see the tops of trees ready to bloom as their time nears.

Someday I will not be able to telephone family and friends,

say out loud, “I love you”,

hold you in my arms when I see you.

Someday I will not water houseplants,

snip ends to root in water,

watch flower spathes emerge from an orchid with delight.

Someday I will have read all the books I am going to read.

Someday I will no longer buy or pick, wash and cut fruit,

arrange it in a pleasing way and

present it for others to enjoy.

Someday I will no longer feel the deliciousness

of getting under the covers, putting my head on the pillow,

feeling warm and letting go into the dark night.

Someday I will have woken fresh in the morning for the last time.

Someday I won’t light candles and pray,

Or make little fires of twigs and branches,

Touch the match to tinder and gaze at flames.

Someday I will not be able to bless, comfort or support others

By speaking words,

Writing a card, text or email.

I will no longer be able to say I am sorry, forgive me,

I forgive you,

thank you.

Someday I will no longer make music,

hear it in my ears,

feel it reverberating in my body.

Someday I will have drunk my last cup of tea.

Someday I will no longer watch eagle-eyed

for edible wild greens or mushrooms emerging,

for the first wildflowers of spring.

Someday I will have seen all the sunrises, sunsets,

moonrises and moonsets over water or land,

stars moving across the night sky,

clouds changing shape swiftly or lazily,

that I will ever see through these eyes.

Someday I will no longer be able to hop on a bicycle,

break ice crusts frozen on puddles with my boots,

splashing  through the deepest part,

swing on the tree swing looking into woods,

paddle a kayak through still water at dawn or twilight.

Someday I won’t see and hear the first red-winged blackbird of spring,

see maples leaves yellow and red in autumn

hear the hush of snowfall,

at least, not as I do now.

Someday I will no longer feel my hands in cool garden soil,

water and watch the growth of vegetables,

harvest with pleasure and gratitude.

Someday I will have eaten every bit of food, healthy or not, that I am going to eat,

tasted flavors and felt textures: crunchy, soft, smooth, crisp, sweet, salty, bitter, sour,

enjoyed sharing this experience with others.

Someday I will have quenched my thirst for the last time,

feeling cool water gliding down my throat.

Someday I will no longer smell the richness of leaves rotting on the forest floor,

watch ocean waves crash and hear the roar,

release my body into cold, salty water

feel the sea water like my own tears in my eyes.

Someday I will have participated in all the ceremonies I ever will, in this body.

Someday I will no longer be able to brush watercolors on paper,

cut a shape with scissors,

Draw pictures with pen and ink,

Sew fabric or put buttons on anything.

Someday I will have made the last batch of kombucha,

rubbed salt into the last batch of fermented vegies,

simmered the last pot of broth,

made the last simple but delicious meal.

Someday I won’t be able to wash, dress and bless others who have died,

Nor sit with them as I can now.

Someday time and money will mean nothing to me.

Someday I will be done traveling in boats, cars, trains, airplanes,

Setting foot on unfamiliar lands,

Listening for words I know or am learning in another language.

Someday I will have looked into all the eyes of others through my own eyes that I ever will.

Someday I will no longer see my breath in cold air,

feel the wet blanket of fog,

hear the foghorn of the ferry,

rub my hands together to warm them.

Someday I will have played the last game of cards,

read the last bedtime story out loud,

sung the last lullaby,

and tucked someone into bed for the last time.

Someday I will no longer be able to prepare myself

or my loved ones for my death.

Someday I will no longer experience the wealth of momentary wonders in this life of being in a body:

Touching.

Hearing.

Seeing.

Smelling.

Tasting.

With love and gratitude, I relish them now.

 

Jean Berman speaks and leads workshops on Honor and Comfort: The Jewish Way of Death and Mourning, Care of the Newly Dead – An Inquiry into Intuition and Tradition, and How Death Enhances Life: Heightening our Awareness. She enjoys walks in nature, kayaking and playing ukulele, and lives on Peaks Island, Maine. She is a graduate of the Gamliel Institute, and a Board member of Kavod v’Nichum.

Jean B. Berman

Jean B. Berman

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TASTE OF GAMLIEL

6th in the series: June 25th, 2017 – Dr. Laurie Zoloth

In 2017, Kavod v’Nichum and the Gamliel Institute are again sponsoring a six-part “Taste of Gamliel” webinar series. This year’s topic is From Here to Eternity: Jewish Views on Sickness and Dying.

Each 90 minute session is presented by a different scholar.

The June 25th session is being taught by Dr. Laurie Zoloth, well known author, teacher, and scholar.  

Taste of Gamliel Webinars for this year are scheduled on January 22, February 19, March 19, April 23, May 21, and June 25. The instructors this year are: Dr. Dan Fendel, Rabbi Dayle Friedman, Rabbi Sara Paasche-Orlow, Rabbi Richard Address, Rabbi Elliot Dorff, and Dr. Laurie Zoloth.

This series of Webinar sessions is free, with a suggested minimum donation of $36 for all six sessions. These online sessions begin at 5 PM PDST (GMT-7); 8 PM EDST (GMT-4).

Those registered will be sent the information on how to connect to the sessions, and will also receive information on how to access the recordings of all six sessions.

The link to register is: http://jewish-funerals.givezooks.com/events/taste-of-gamliel-2017.

More info – Call us at 410-733-3700 or email info@jewish-funerals.org.    

Click the link to register and for more information. We’ll send you the directions to join the webinar no less than 12 hours before the session.

________________________

GAMLIEL INSTITUTE COURSES

LOOKING FORWARD: UPCOMING COURSE

Gamliel Institute will be offering course 2, Chevrah Kadisha: Taharah & Shmirah, online, afternoons/evenings, in the Fall semester starting September 5th, 2017.

CLASS SESSIONS

The course will meet on twelve Tuesdays (the day will be adjusted in those weeks with Jewish holidays during this course). There will be an orientation session on Monday, September 4th, 2017.  Register or contact us for more information.

REGISTRATION

You can register for any Gamliel Institute course online at jewish-funerals.org/gamreg. A full description of all of the courses is found there.

For more information, visit the Gamliel Institute website, or at the Kavod v’Nichum website. Please contact us for information or assistance by email info@jewish-funerals.org, or phone at 410-733-3700.

 ____________________

DONATIONS

Donations are always needed and most welcome to support the work of Kavod v’Nichum and the Gamliel Institute, helping us to bring you the conference, offer community trainings, provide scholarships to students, refurbish and update course materials, expand our teaching, support programs such as Taste of Gamliel, provide and add to online resources, encourage and support communities in establishing, training, and improving their Chevrah Kadisha, and assist with many other programs and activities.

You can donate online at http://jewish-funerals.org/gamliel-institute-financial-support or by snail mail to: either Kavod v’Nichum, or to The Gamliel Institute, c/o David Zinner, Executive Director, Kavod v’Nichum, 8112 Sea Water Path, Columbia, MD  21045. Kavod v’Nichum [and the Gamliel Institute] is a recognized and registered 501(c)(3) organizations, and donations may be tax-deductible to the full extent provided by law. Call 410-733-3700 if you have any questions or want to know more about supporting Kavod v’Nichum or the Gamliel Institute.

You can also become a member (Individual or Group) of Kavod v’Nichum to help support our work. Click here (http://www.jewish-funerals.org/money/).

___________

MORE INFORMATION

If you would like to receive the periodic Kavod v’Nichum Newsletter by email, or be added to the Kavod v’Nichum Chevrah Kadisha & Jewish Cemetery email discussion list, please be in touch and let us know at info@jewish-funerals.org.

You can also be sent an email link to the Expired And Inspired blog each week by sending a message requesting to be added to the distribution list to j.blair@jewish-funerals.org.

Be sure to check out the Kavod V’Nichum website at www.jewish-funerals.org, and for information on the Gamliel Institute and student work in this field also visit the Gamliel.Institute website.

RECEIVE NOTICES WHEN THIS BLOG IS UPDATED!

Sign up on our Facebook Group page: just search for and LIKE Chevra Kadisha sponsored by Kavod vNichum, or follow our Twitter feed @chevra_kadisha.

____________________

SUBMISSIONS ALWAYS WELCOME

If you have an idea for an entry you would like to submit to this blog, please be in touch. Email J.blair@jewish-funerals.org. We are always interested in original materials that would be of interest to our readers, relating to the broad topics surrounding the continuum of Jewish preparation, planning, rituals, rites, customs, practices, activities, and celebrations approaching the end of life, at the time of death, during the funeral, in the grief and mourning process, and in comforting those dying and those mourning, as well as the actions and work of those who address those needs, including those serving in Bikkur Cholim, Caring Committees, the Chevrah Kadisha, as Shomrim, funeral providers, in funeral homes and mortuaries, and operators and maintainers of cemeteries.

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7 haiku for parsha Shelach (it’s our own personal fringe festival) by Rick Lupert


I
Spy instructions: Check
out the land we may invade –
Also, bring back fruit

II
Any excuse to
go back to Egypt – Life was
hard but familiar

III
Once again God is
talked out of killing us all
by a mere human

IV
Seize the day or you
could end up wandering the
desert forty years

V
A recipe to
serve bull to God is
here if you need it

VI
Even the Lord likes
the smell of homemade bread as
much as the next guy

VII
These hanging fringes
keep the light of the righteous
always by my side


Los Angeles poet Rick Lupert created a the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 20 collections of poetry, including “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

7 haiku for parsha Beha’alotcha by Rick Lupert (Apparently you can have too much quail)


I
All the things in place.
Levites shaved head to toe. Time
to leave the mountain

II
Now the Levites are
hallowed, because the first born
built a golden calf

III
Oh good, there is a
second Passover in case
we need more Matzah

IV
A lifted cloud says
it’s time to go – Importance
of weather reports

V
Freedom has its one
year anniversary – Just
decades more to go

VI
Let the meat-centric
complaining begin – Not to
mention the tough walk

VII
She may have talked smack
but a sister is family –
Please God, heal her


Los Angeles poet Rick Lupert created a the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 20 collections of poetry, including “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

7 haiku for parsha Naso by Rick Lupert (in which everyone brings the same gift to the party)


Bonus introductory Haiku

Kick back with some wine
unless you’re a Nazir – This
the longest Parsha

I
And so forever
the Gershonites will carry
the curtains around

II
Numbers from last week
spill into this week – I was
told there’d be no math

III
Our obligation
to vocalize our sins came
before Catholic booths

IV
This Priestly Blessing
from ancient desert to our
millennial hands

V
Everyone brought the
same gift to the party – Good
then – Awkward today

VI
Seven more people
showed up with identical
gifts – and no receipts

VII
Finding God proving
difficult – look for the voice
between two angels


Los Angeles poet Rick Lupert created a the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 20 collections of poetry, including “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

7 haiku for parsha Bamidbar by Rick Lupert (in which everyone counts and is counted)


I
Four books in and we’re
counting everyone because
everyone does count

II
The biggest desert
festival – God headlines for
six hundred thousand

III
We hope you like the
direction you’ve been given –
yours for forty years

IV
Tabernacle chores
given to post golden-calf
Levites – Second chance

V
You’ve made the inner
circle Levites! North, south, east
west. Holy roadies.

VI
Attention newborns
You need not apply – Counting
just one month and up

VII
It takes a skilled son
of Kohath to properly
wrap up this Holy

Malkhut


“That which defines space can stand aloof from space. That which defines time, on the other hand, cannot remain apart from it.” — Aryeh Kaplan

The field of time stands up
and grows a face.
Arms sprout from his side,
wings from the arms, blue mouth
burning between the feathers.
The field of time changes the air
around him as a sunken pothole
changes the road, as a flaming tree
illuminates the yard. Then
takes a brush and begins
to sketch us: double helix paint
on a canvas of cells.


Alicia Jo Rabins is a poet, musician, performer and Torah teacher based in Portland, Ore. Her book, “Divinity School,” won the 2015 APR/Honickman First Book Prize.

The Palmer Method


I stuck out the tip of my tongue, earnest first-grader shaping
a’s, b’s, those final t’s I still use, swirling loops and bows
meant to loosen the wrist without straying outside the lines.
Too young to be called vain, my handwriting grew distinctive
and pretty with daily practice. How this passion propelled me,
figments scribbled down by hand,
quick and cursive, on scraps of unlined paper, on the backs
of envelopes, wayward, spellbound, reckless, not the
disciplined way I bite my tongue now, sign Social Security checks.


Florence Weinberger is the author of four books of poetry: “The Invisible Telling Its Shape,” “Breathing Like a Jew,” “Carnal Fragrance” and “Sacred Graffiti.”  “The Palmer Method” was first published on Persimmon Tree, an arts website.

May Is Here, My Dear


temperature in the seventies
weekend approaching
blithe and friendly
and meanwhile close
to the ground
around a tree
broadway traffic going by
a small girl in a smocked dress
squats to pet a pink
impatiens blossom
with her forefinger very
carefully


Alicia Ostriker has published 14 volumes of poetry, most recently “The Book of Life: Selected Jewish Poems, 1979-2011” (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012). Ostriker received the National Jewish Book Award for Poetry in 2010, and has appeared in numerous Jewish literary journals and anthologies.

7 haiku for Parsha Acharei-Mot-Kedoshim by Rick Lupert (resist your urge to combine animals)


I
Only the High Priest
has ultimate back stage pass,
Holy of Holies.

II
On the seventh month
on the tenth of that month, it’s
self-affliction time.

III
You know it’s pretty
serious, when they tell you
again – don’t eat blood.

IV
It’s not a good time
to bring up gay marriage. The
Torah steers us wrong.

V
As exciting as
a llama-leopard might be
you may not make one.

VI
When one says they feel
descended from Abraham
we love them like kin.

VII
So many things to
do and not to do. Bottom
line is be holy.


Los Angeles poet Rick Lupert created a the Poetry Super Highway (an online publication and resource for poets), and hosted the Cobalt Cafe weekly poetry reading for almost 21 years. He’s authored 20 collections of poetry, including “I’m a Jew, Are You” (Jewish themed poems) and “Feeding Holy Cats” (Poetry written while a staff member on the first Birthright Israel trip), and most recently “Donut Famine” (Rothco Press, December 2016) and edited the anthologies “Ekphrastia Gone Wild”, “A Poet’s Haggadah”, and “The Night Goes on All Night.” He writes the daily web comic “Cat and Banana” with fellow Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine. He’s widely published and reads his poetry wherever they let him.

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