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


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.


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.


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.


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.

Rabbi Wolpe fights cancer battle; Terror victim becomes advocate for others

Rabbi Wolpe Fights Cancer Battle
Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple informed his congregation by letter this week that he was recently diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Although his doctors “have every expectation that the cancer will be put into extended remission or cured,” Wolpe wrote, “nonetheless, this is a shock and it has begun a new journey for me and my family.”
Wolpe told The Journal that he plans to maintain his regular work schedule “as best I can,” taking a day or so off, if needed, during chemotherapy treatment.Since assuming the pulpit of the large Conservative congregation in Westwood in 1997, Wolpe has earned a reputation as one of the city’s most visible and innovative rabbis.
In addition, he is a prolific writer and frequent commentator on television. He is the author of six books, including the 2000 national bestseller, “Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times.”
In November 2003, Wolpe underwent surgery to remove a brain lesion after he suffered a seiziure at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was speaking at the dedication of a new Hillel house. He returned to the pulpit two months later.
In his letter to congregants, sent out on his 48th birthday, Wolpe wrote, “Throughout my life, I have believed that God promises us not ease but meaning, not perfect health but reverence, connection and love.”
As the rabbi himself noted, “This has been an eventful year.” Last month, he led a large mission to northern Israel, which disbursed $1 million in aid. During the spring, he was considered a lead candidate for the chancellorship of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, but opted to stay in Los Angeles.
Wolpe and his wife Eliana are the parents of a 9-year-old daughter.
— Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor
Terror Victim Becomes Advocate for Others
Anna Krakovich is the victim of a suicide bomber, but a lucky one. She survived the terror attack to become a response team leader for SELAH — The Israel Crisis Management Center, a nonprofit organization that provides assistance for new immigrants in Israel who are faced with crises. Krakovich spent the latter part of her summer touring Southern California.
Krakovich immigrated to Israel from Ukraine with her 9-year-old daughter in 1992, and now lives in Haifa. On April 6, 1994, she was seriously wounded and 70 percent of her body was burned in a terrorist car bombing. She spent 11 months in hospitals, underwent corrective surgeries and continues today to follow a rigorous course of physical therapy.
A SELAH volunteer visited her every day while she was in the hospital and provided her and her young daughter with extensive support throughout her recovery. Now Krakovich — a former English teacher — has become a devotee of SELAH’s cause, which she describes as providing the kind of family that vulnerable immigrants lack and long for in times of crisis.
“Loss and pain are not a bit easier when tragedy happens to the Israeli-born,” she said, “but those cases have means to cope with tragedy, including immediate family and friends. On top of the fact that the immigrant doesn’t have any social or cultural know-how, he is in no situation to refer to help.”
In addition to facilitating immediate financial, medical and personal relief in a variety of forms, from help with costs for care to visits at home or in the hospital and psychological support. It has reached out to those victimized by the summer’s violence in northern Israel even as it continues to provide long-term support for survivors of past turbulence.
“Tragedy doesn’t end when the spotlight goes away,” Krakovich said. “Crisis stays, and neither the efforts of our wonderful volunteers and the rest of the country nor the donations of our friends here would ever fill the gap for people who lost a loved one. What we can do with our efforts and money is relieve some pain in terms of organization, to make this kind of situation a bit easier to cope with.”
— Ali Austerlitz, Contributing Writer
Rushdie Speaks Out as Pro-Israel Muslim
The evening’s speeches were punctuated with harsh denunciations of Islam as “the religion of the permanently outraged,” as a “collapsed culture,” as murderous and fascistic — all voiced by Muslim speakers.
Author Salman Rushdie, once under sentence of death by Iran’s religious leaders, criticized the Quran as illogical and disjointed, and probed the motivations of suicide bombers in surprising ways.
The occasion was Sunday’s dinner organized by the Western region of the American Jewish Congress (AJCongress), which honored five Muslims for their courage and friendship toward the Jewish people.
“At a time when Israel is at war and the Jewish people are under attack, we must honor our friends in the Muslim community who give us hope for a better future,” said Gary P. Ratner, executive director of the host organization.
Recalling his pleasant childhood as an Indian Muslim, Rushdie lamented the “deformation” of Islam over the past 50 years, blaming “a culture that will not question itself” and the failure to subject the Quran to scholarly analysis.
Peppering his talk with anecdotes, Rushdie said he was still trying to understand the phenomenon of well-educated and middle-class Muslims in Europe who choose to become suicide bombers.
He blamed partially the radicalization of young Muslim men in their schools and mosques, and the attraction to terrorist groups by people “who are thuggish by nature,” but also cited a psychological basis.
“We live in an age that spotlights glamour,” he said. “Al Qaeda attracts boys who will never be ‘stars,’ but who are seduced into viewing their insane acts as glamorous.”
The four other recipients of the Stephen S. Wise Humanitarian Award, and their quotes, were: