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.

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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.

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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/).

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MORE INFORMATION

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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.

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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.

7 haiku for Parsha Tazria-Metzora by Rick Lupert (Plus a comforting video that involves potatoes)


I
How can a birth make
a woman unclean? When life
begins, it’s holy.

II
Priests with no degree
in medicine use their eyes
to divide the sick.

III
Road Trip! cried the man
with the discolored skin as
he left the city.

IV
Any excuse to
shave my entire body.
Plus give me two birds.

V
Of course if you can’t
afford two birds, discount fowl
are available.

VI
May have to tear down
little boxes when covered
with ticky-tacky.

VII
In encouraging news:
if you jump in the pool, all
will be forgiven.


And here’s a friendly poem video that focuses on potatoes which I hope you’ll find comforting after the imagery in Tazria-Metzora:

New Potato by Rick Lupert


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 Shemini by Rick Lupert (Rejoice, there is no rice that is forbidden!)


I
So much to give up
before the thing we want will
descend upon us.

II
Look, up on the sky,
A cloud of holiness. We
could use that today.

III
I can see the Lord
is pro-the death penalty.
Sons burst into flames.

IV
These words read like the
menu at Kentucky Fried
Chicken – Legs and thighs.

V
Got to know when to
hold ‘em, Aaron tells Moses
explaining a sin.

VI
Line up, animals!
Some of you can be eaten,
and some of you can’t.

VII
Snakes and insects on
the forbidden foods list, but
not Forbidden Rice.


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.

Next Year in Jerusalem – a poem for the waning moments of Passover by Rick Lupert


As long as I’ve been alive
the words next year in Jerusalem
have left my mouth

at the end of every
Passover seder my ancient bones
have reclined at.

My bones in New Jersey cried
next year in Jerusalem and the very
next year I was in Florida.

My bones in Florida cried
next year in Jerusalem and the very
next year I was in Syracuse.

My bones in Syracuse cried
next year in Jerusalem and the very
next year I was in California.

My bones in California cried
next year in Jerusalem and the very
next year I was in Allentown.

We’re holding steady in
Pennsylvania, still crying for the
holy land.

I could just buy a ticket but
the rest of the family has declared
Jerusalem to be in the Rust Belt.

We don’t even gather in
the east end of the house.
This is the funk of diaspora.

This is the Jerusalem we
create in our North American
living rooms.

This is the holy city
whose golden bricks I see
whenever our eyes intertwine.

I’m going to keep crying
next year in Jerusalem.
A promise kept

in whatever city
that cushions
these old bones.


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.

Next Year in Jerusalem


Where was that place?
Was it on the tree-lined street we drove down Sunday mornings
to look at mansions? Was it on the basement shelf,
too high for me to reach to see what was stored there?
Or was it like that horse that cantered across the white fields
when no one was watching? Or like the word death I thought about in bed
after my mother whispered the story and my body shook
and she explained it’s a place we all go?
Would it be next year?
Or perhaps it was like that diagram she drew
when I asked how I was born: the man’s part, then the woman’s:
This goes into this. When would I understand? Next year? In Jerusalem?
On Passover she gave me a piece of rock candy to suck on
as we sat through the sedar — the sugared cherry sweet on my tongue
as we sounded the words: Next year in Jerusalem, mine,
she said, as God commanded, forever.


First published in “The Torah Garden” (Autumn House, 2007 and 2011) as part of a longer poem, “Our Jerusalem.” Philip Terman is the author of “Our Portion: New and Selected Poems,” “The House of Sages,” “Book of the Unbroken Days” and “Rabbis of the Air.”

7 Haiku for Parsha Vayikra (in which your sin is dealt with) by Rick Lupert


I
Any good book starts
with a long discussion of
animal innards.

II
A fistful of fine
flour – we’ve come so far in
how we measure things.

III
Deep fried, gluten free,
and no honey – This is how
the Lord likes to eat.

IV
Reading this is like
going to medical school.
P.S. Don’t eat blood.

V
We use every part
of the disassembled bull
to atone for sin.

VI
Why do animals
have to pay for human sin?
He sprinkles the blood.

VII
Why do animals
have to pay for the ancient
sin of Jewish guilt?


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.

14 haiku for Parsha Vayakhel-Pekudei (involving a major construction project) by Rick Lupert


Vayakhel

I
An all staff meeting.
Building instructions given.
Not on Saturday.

II
This tabernacle
funded by all the people.
The first Kickstarter.

III
A miracle! This
over-funded project is
with the artists now.

IV
Here in the dream lab
curtains are connected and
loops of wool appear.

V
Planks and sockets and
cubits. This is what it takes
to build a Mishkan.

VI
The holiness is
in the details. A golden
Menorah appears.

VII
Who doesn’t love to
see a project completed.
Now, the inspectors.

Pekudei

I
Let’s name all our kids
Bezalel, so that they may
become artists too.

II
Priests looking for the
latest accessories – look
no further: ephod.

III
Pomegranates and
bells. Twisted blue. This runway
will be off the hook.

IV
Laying out the wares
Moses gives them a blessing
for a job well done.

V
With all the pieces
the Mishkan is almost here.
Assembly required.

VI
Like a complex set
of Ikea instructions
Moses builds it all.

VII
A cloud comes. Not one
of gloom and rain. This is the
cloud that strengthens us.


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 Ki Tisa (God’s got “back”) by Rick Lupert


I
An artist hired
for a major project. Here
is my half shekel.

II
Three thousand idol
worshippers executed.
Lesson of gold calf.

III
Moses is selfish.
He tries to sign God to an
exclusive contract.

IV
God’s got back…and that
is all any human will
be able to see.

V
The One with thirteen
merciful attributes has
got our stiff necked backs.

VI
You should not cook a
kid in its mother’s milk. Don’t
worry. They mean goats.

VII
Moses comes down the
mountain with the new tablets.
Hide the molten gods.


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.

Poem: How Are You Feeling?


In the course of an ordinary day
plain as a pine board, feelings
flash through me like birds
crossing the window and gone.
Hope stirs and quiets. Anger
flashes lightning from a clear
sky. Sad is a fish wandering
through, body shimmying.
Lust sticks up its furry head.
Regret sighs and turns round
and round before it lies down.
Love comes in warm waves.
Emotions enter, leave me as if
they came from their own cave
where they live while I’m too
busy to pay attention.


Marge Piercy has published 19 books of poetry, the latest being “Made in Detroit” from Knopf. She has published 17 novels, a memoir and four nonfiction books, including “Pesach for the Rest of Us.”

A Poem For Purim in Which Our Happiness Gets Bigger by Rick Lupert


It is the Hebrew month of Adar and my
happiness is getting bigger.

That’s not meant to sound dirty.
It’s a traditional tradition, as old as Purim itself

as old as eating cookies shaped like human ears
as old as wearing Venetian masks

I think Purim is where Mardi Gras got the idea.
As Purim approaches, our happiness gets bigger.

On this day we march down the Bourbon Streets
of our lives, imbibing whatever it takes

to blur the lines between what’s wrong and what’s right.
(or what’s left if you’re feeling politically charged)

Hoping, no mandated, to see how close we are
to evil, and still land on the good side of the line.

I have to be honest, when I first heard the word
Megillah, I was disappointed to find out it didn’t

have anything to do with Gorillas. The cartoon of
my youth informing my understanding of Jewish History.

I’d always wanted a monkey of any kind and to
find out Purim only led to a cookie, was a tragedy

of King Kongian proportions. It was like someone
was saying Haman to me as loud as they could

next to my ear which I’m lucky enough to
still have attached. And can we all just agree,

There should be a much higher proportion of
chocolate Hamentaschen? (no offense fruit)

This is all getting a bit silly, but that’s Purim.
Straddling the line between good and evil.

A dizzying balance to maintain. I’m standing
on one foot. Hoping the other one lands

in a respectable location. My happiness is
getting bigger. I’d draw you a picture, but

I’m out of time.


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.

The casting of lots


Dear Ahasuerus, it is eleven-thirty am and my number is one hundred and eighty-six. I feel the lack of communion striving for a higher purpose in this government assistance office, and it is beyond sadness and feet and the distance of aircraft and tires and inner-tubes on turgid rivers in midsummer with aluminum cans of beer. It’s not just the ones who pick discarded numbers from the floor and say they missed their turn. The flower-selling prepubescent children sniffing glue in paper bags outside the margins of the magazine I’m reading remind me of the laundry I hung up that must be dry by now, filled as they are with warmth and wings and snapping. This office is a fine line. The wind from the open window rustles the pages of my magazine, pumps the lungs of paper bags, lifts the plastic shopping sacks discarded in the fields, fills the vacant sheets.

When God withdraws, we all must breathe a little harder.

7 Haiku for Parsha Terumah by Rick Lupert (Ladies and Gentleman the Showbread!)


I
Let them make for me
a sanctuary. The first
Jewish contractors.

II
This bread is so cool
it gets its own show. It’s still
in syndication.

III
Six golden fingers
will light the way. Don’t forget
the purple curtains.

IV
No wall on the east
side of the Tarbernacle.
Learn from that Orangy.

V
How many curtains
does it take to get to the
holy of holies?

VI
If you encounter
an altar with four horns. Odds
are God is close by.

VII
It is a good time
to invest in copper and
all materials.


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.

Mother and Child


She kneeled at the hill’s base, stirred
the new season,
held the scent of cut lawn in her palms.
Sprinklers arched into spring with a confident grace
I have not seen since.
The water flecks swept, lingered
like the stretching arms of a waking woman.
Her arms covered and honest, open to receive
my tangled hair, white pants, grass-stained at the knees.
I am afraid
of this distinct joy, scared to praise.
She smiled with a sensible pleasure
I have not seen since.
Running down that hill I let … I
let the urgent wind bite through my open jacket and T-shirt.
Pay attention, it’s hard to admit:
I offered my body to it.


“Mother and Child” appeared in “Morning Prayer,” Sheep Meadow Press (2005). Eve Grubin teaches at NYU London and is the poet in residence at the London School of Jewish Studies. Her chapbook, “The House of Our First Loving,” was recently published by Rack Press.

7 Haiku for Parsha Mishpatim by Rick Lupert (Treat your donkeys well.)


I
The Torah says let
your slaves go after six years.
I say don’t own slaves.

II
Eye for eye, tooth for
tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
and so on and on.

III
Virgins. Animals.
So many rules on who you
can’t get jiggy with.

IV
You don’t have to tell
me twice to help the donkey
of my enemy.

V
I wonder if the
gluten free worry about
the unleavened feast.

VI
Anyone you meet
could be the one who was sent –
angel among us.

VII
Up he goes to write
down all that has happened and
all that will happen.


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 Yitro (it’s the really big show)


I
At Mount Sinai, a
family reunion. The
whole story is retold.

II
You can’t do it all
Jethro tells Moses.
Learn to delegate.

III
Moses chose men of
substance so they could judge the
people at all times.

IV
We’re finally at
the mountain, this kingdom of
princes and holies.

V
Are we prepared for
the thunder and lightning
of revelation?

VI
The big show begins.
We get a top ten list to
end all top ten lists.

VII
The sound and light show
left us shaken and afraid.
We were not prepared.


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.

Poem: Elegy IV (Tallis)


I don’t tell Dad that you never finished cross-stitching
the tallis piece because you were punishing him.
You wouldn’t tell him, so why should I? I finished
the curtains you were planning though I didn’t line them,
I passed on the unfinished quilts to your quilting friend,
but no way I’m going to cross-stitch, and besides,
that was what, four, five crafts ago? After stained glass
and decoupage, but before basket weaving, toll painting,
knitting, crochet and quilting. That’s the problem
with this family — we’re just no good at punishing
each other — or rather, no one can ever get results.
Everyone wants everyone else to be different,
but we can’t make it happen. When you told me that
you were putting this off out of anger, I asked if Dad knew
you were punishing him, and you said, No,
he just thinks I’m lazy. And I said, How’s
that working out for you, and you said, Just fine.


Jason Schneiderman is the author of  “Primary Source,”  “Striking Surface” and “Sublimation Point.” He edited the anthology “Queer: A Reader for Writers” and teaches at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY.  “Elegy IV (Tallis)” appeared in “Striking Surface,” Ashland Poetry Press (2010).

7 Haiku for Parsha Beshalach – Just like at Universal Studios


I
If only they had
stopped and asked for directions.
Less than forty years.

II
Tough choice: Succumb to
approaching Egyptians or
walk into the sea.

III
Walls of water, and
a cloud pillar protects us
from the swords behind.

IV
Egyptians think the
space between water walls is
for them too. It’s not.

V
One of our oldest
traditions began in the
desert – complaining.

VI
Manna encased in
layers morning dew. A
sandwich from Heaven.

VII
If your parents said
not to talk to rocks, you should
refer them to God.


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 Bo – Sure, let’s put blood on the door.


I
No, Mister Pharaoh
You can not keep the children
as security.

II
First the locusts, then
a darkness, so pitch dark, it
embarrassed the night.

III
Maybe the cattle
in exchange for freedom? No
conditions at all.

IV
It will happen at
midnight, Pharaoh is warned. God
invents Rosh Chodesh.

V
I’d paint anything
on my door if it meant I
could live through the night.

VI
Midnight came and the
firstborn went. There’ll be no time
to let the bread rise.

VII
Remember this day
with nothing leavened and put signs
on your hands and eyes.


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 Vaera (in which frogs get a raw deal)


I
In case you have been
waiting for slavery to
end, your time has come.

II
A surprise flashback
makes us nostalgic for the
children of Jacob.

III
Moses gets a pep
talk, and a sidekick. Aaron
will do the talking.

IV
You’re not going to
impress anyone turning
your sticks into snakes.

V
The unsung heroes
of Exodus, are surely
all the poor dead frogs.

VI
Pharaoh is tired of
plague after plague but God’s
not done showing off.

VII
Be careful Pharaoh.
Your fickle mind and hardened
heart won’t always heal.

Poem: That Great Diaspora


I’ll never leave New York & when I do
I too will be unbodied — what? you
imagine I might transmogrify? I’m from
nowhere which means here & so wade out
into the briny dream of elsewheres like
a released dybbyk but can’t stand
the soulessness now everyone who ever
made sense to me has died & everyone I love
grows from my body like limbs on a rootless tree

Rachel Zucker is the author of nine books, most recently, a memoir titled “MOTHERs,” and a double collection of prose and poetry, “The Pedestrians.” Her book “Museum of Accidents” was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Zucker teaches poetry at New York University.

Poem: Miriam Lives in Apt. 2C


With her two brothers
nine goats
and a pack of fruit flies.
When her father tells her
Go get the switch
she is a different color after.
She is April.
Her teeth at well’s bottom
her fall from favor
the deepest fruit.
In the summer she’s a porch fly
against the burn.
But when she curls into a stoop
against the tide of winter
the neighbors
leave their doors cracked

Sivan Butler-Rotholz is the contributing editor of the Saturday Poetry Series on “As It Ought to Be” and a columnist for the iPinion Syndicate. She teaches English and creative writing in New York City and internationally.

Poem: A Jewish Poet


It is hard to be a Jewish poet.
You cannot say things about God
that will offend the disbelievers.
And you always have to remind someone
it wasn’t your people who killed their savior.
And Solomon and David are always laughing
over your shoulder
like a father and son ridiculing the unfavored brother.
And you cannot entice people with the sloping
parts of a woman’s body
because you must always remain pure.
And every day you have to ask yourself why you’re writing
when there is already the one great book.
It is hard to be a Jewish poet.
You cannot say anything about the disbelievers,
which might offend God.


“A Jewish Poet” first appeared in Prairie Schooner.

Yehoshua November is the author of “God’s Optimism,” which was named a finalist for the 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Poetry. November teaches writing at Touro College and Rutgers University.