Rosh Hashanah

On Sat, Sep 5, 2009 at 4:39 PM, Goldie Silverman  wrote:
Hi, Richard,
I wrote this poem years ago. Happy New Year.


(tash-leek, the custom of emptying crumbs from the pockets and throwing them into moving waters on the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, symbolic of tossing away one’s sins.)

“We might return,” they said, “but not to that,
A swollen mass of unfamiliar faces.”
Bet Am, house of the people, a place grown strange to children long departed.
No rows of folding chairs for them,
No unknown pulpit faces, unknown tunes.
Conditions met.
We chose instead to separate ourselves,
To look for God,
If God exists,
Upon a mountain, by a lake, under an open sky.
So came we together from our scattered homes
To welcome year fifty-seven sixty-one.
And even though the rain soaked through our clothes,
And heaven’s gray obscured the mountain top,
We spread the plastic over holy words,
Read psalms and searched the recesses in our hearts.
The stream we found ran foamy brown like laundry after playing in the mud.
We tossed our crumbs and threw away our greed,
Our stubbornness, our arrogance and pride.
Three generations, like Sinai, standing in the rain.
I looked at these, my immortality.
“Let the sun not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.”
We lifted up our eyes and knew the source.

Goldie part lake part screen

Pic by Zoe for NB newsletter

My poem was a riff on Psalm 121, which begins, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,” and includes the lines, “The sun shall not smite thee by day, Nor the moon at night.”  I wrote the poem the year my three children all agreed to come home for Rosh Hashonah, provided they were not forced to go to services at the synagogue they had grown up in, which had changed much from the years they remembered.

There is also a line in Pirke Avot: “Do not separate yourself from the congregation,…”

We compromised that year by attending the evening service, but in the morning we drove up into the mountains for Tashlik, and it poured! My daughter brought a service that we put into plastic bags, and we read it and Psalm 121, my favorite, because I have a view of the Cascades and Mt. Rainier from my house.

Goldie and I met in Morocco in December of 2007.

Published in: on September 7, 2009 at 8:58 pm  Comments (1)