fake [submission]

I feel like a fake

I don’t feel jewish enough

I feel like I want to hurt the people that made my great grandma and great grandpa and great great uncle feel so ashamed and scared

That they forced their children to stop practicing. And they stopped.

And they left behind G-d because they said She had turned Her eyes from them

And I want to cry because when my grandma tried to be jewish her husbands

One after the other

Every failed marriage

They beat her down over and over and over

And when my mom taught me about Passover

Passover

Not Pesach

Passover

Because my goyische father

And his goyische family

And all of the goyim in my life

Made it bad to do anything that wasn’t christianized

And when I wanted to be jewish and I wanted to learn my great grandma took that internalized HATRED and called me

Shiksa Goddess

and she hit me

(a small eight year old with big watery blue eyes and the longest tangle of blonde hair to be found for miles)

(no one on my mothers side has hair like mine)

until I cried the bitter tears that she could never let herself cry

Because she had to be Strong.

And I want to scream and cry and hurt them like they’ve hurt me

And I want to hate my great grandma but

Sarah just did what she had to do

So aptly named

She took life in stride and looked for other solutions and I want to be Sarah but I am not that strong

And I am not strong

I am not strong

And I just want to cry.

  • damnatians.tumblr.com

mi ani? ma ani?

like my people, my

thoughts
poems
head
love
history

all are scattered.

and now that my matriarch is dead,

what
where
who

am i?

why did you leave me like this?
i don’t feel ready.

nu, what is it like?

being Jewish is having the breath suddenly ripped from your chest upon remembering the pain and suffering of your people’s past, a memory that rips open the barely-healed scabs of the pain of your people’s present.

being Jewish is to live with wounds our tormentors will not allow to heal.

ahava

from now on, whenever a hebrew or yiddish word bubbles up into my heart, I will not allow myself to suppress it like I shamefully do my tears

I will let my lost languages, mame loshn, the tongues that put me in the skin of my ancestors, I will let those words burst out of my chest like fire

I will let them burn the skin of anyone who shames me for speaking a language i hold on to

languages too heavy for me to carry, the diaspora has made my arms weak but I will not let go.

i want to talk to g-d

i want to talk to g-d but loshn kodesh – the language that g-d speaks – hits my heart without passing through my ears.

i want to talk to my ancestors but mame loshn draws more laughs in this place than smiles of recognition.

i ache to speak the languages of my people, languages that taste like the desert and ghettoes, sand and glass, fire and resilience, but instead i speak common tongues like english and french and latin – i feel like crying because they are familiar in a way that my own languages may never be.

what does diasporic sorrow feel like?

what does diasporic sorrow feel like?

it feels like my chest tightening with tears i’m not sure i’ll shed. my throat hurts, a lump is trying to escape from it.

it feels like my body tensing up in wait. i still don’t know what i’m waiting for.

it feels like a constant buzz of anxiety. like the kind i get when i don’t know if i’ve locked my front door, except there’s no home to go to at the end of the day to check.

it feels like the desert. hot. dry. my eyes sting like when sand gets in them.

it feels like confusion. like in the cartoons i used to watch, with a question mark flitting around my head. i can’t even express what i’m confused about, half the time.

it feels like the burst of sadness when i realize that the language my mother spoke to me as a child isn’t a made-up language after all. it’s the language of my people. it’s a language we all used to speak.

it feels like the frustration when my siblings and friends and i share pieces of our histories with each other, trying to make pieces of different puzzles fit together as one. none of us were born complete.

it feels like i am constantly justifying why i am, where i am, who i am, what i am. to the point where i question my own truth.

it feels like it will never get better. i will never know anything.

it feels like i will feel this way forever.

most of us always have, anyway.

passover [submission]

passover (poem) [submission from hamletrash.tumblr.com]

remember when your skin first felt like a

disease, like every pore if you squeezed it

would spit cold cyanide

remember when you were a slave in the house of bondage

remember the blood on your thighs. remember

the plague of boils, the plague of blood,

the plague of cattle disease

(you used to have a toy a

cow with a button on its foot

push the button and its joints buckled

and collapsed)

pretending as you

scrubbed your sheets

that this was the blood of a man you’d killed

remember that spring when god peeled your skin off and ate it like bread

the terror of how your zipped coat

looked when you sat down

the waves and bubbles the zipper made.

like eve under trees

the sudden alien weight of her body

this is the bread of affliction

god spits blood in the river, god

whispers into your bed

kisses your neck full of boils

god in a breath of lice that squirm through

your firstborn’s hair

god bound between your eyes and

upon the doorposts of your houses

god’s blood in the nile

lamb’s blood on the door

cows’ blood in the fields

your blood in the sink

stick your smallest finger in the wine

she said to find my element…

my element is smoke.

dirty, captivating, floating, dissolving… choking.

my punishment is ephemerality, impermanence.

i am fascinated by the macabre

and also terrified.

my penance is letting go –

i self-sabotage and end up in purgatory.

there’s a smoke machine manned by spirits smoking cigarettes that smell unfamiliar – that one: a cigar.

my job, they say, is to clean the air by breathing:

it gives me anxiety and

the spirits shape-shift into various things they know unsettle me

so i name them Puck 6, Puck 2, Puck 5/

my least favourite small numbers.

when i get out of here, i will take up smoking again.

i will blow smoke in the face of everyone i see

and end up back where i came from –

unless i decide to change.

which i might.

take heart

In times of sorrow, take heart, even

though you stand at deaths door: the

candle flares up before it dies,

and wounded lions roar.

  • Samuel Ibn Naghrila/ Samuel haNagid

anonymous submission

“diaspora poem?” [anonymous submission]

some nights when i’m alone, my thoughts run strange:

that my heart is a homeland,

pumping culture and language and identity

through rivers, over mountains.

nearer to my heart are the organs that are strong:

my lungs are my ancestors, receiving the most blood,

next my digestive system is my parents—

not as rich, yet not as poor as me—

because i am housed within my hands and feet.

i am choked by the circulation problems i’ve had since i was born,

and my hands and feet are cold and weak

like my sense of identity

like my connection with eretz yisrael

like my understanding of those other jews.

at which point can the dysfunctional body flourish,

when the heart is a homeland that cannot reach over distances,

when there are far more important places

for that blood to reach?

i want to reach out in the dark for answers,

but my feeble hands clutch at nothing

nothing but the drowning call of diaspora.

Rav Arnold Jacob Wolf quote

I try to walk the road of Judaism. Embedded in that road there are many jewels. One is marked ‘Sabbath’ and one ‘Civil Rights’ and one ‘Kashruth’ and one ‘Honor Your Parents’ and one ‘You Shall Be Holy.’ There are at least 613 of them and they are different shapes and sizes and weights. Some are light and easy for me to pick up, and I pick them up. Some are too deeply embedded for me, so far at least, though I get a little stronger by trying to extricate the jewels as I walk the street. Some, perhaps, I shall never be able to pick up. I believe that God expects me to keep on walking Judaism Street and to carry away whatever I can of its commandments. I do not believe that God expects me to lift what I cannot, nor may I condemn my fellow Jew who may not be able to pick up even as much as I can.

  • Rav Arnold Jacob Wolf

what the world has stolen from us

i honestly don’t know if i will get over the fact that i know nothing, and most likely will never know anything, about my history past the last 3 generations.

where did they live? where did they come from? who were they? what did they do? what were their names? how many of them were there?

i will never be able to answer any of those questions

u murdered my history and u expect me to be complacent when u further try to degrade me and force me to give up the only thing i have left of my ancestry?

remember where you came from

they say “remember where you came from” –

that’s hard to do when the only memories of your home are of broken glass and fire.

i call myself a diasporan

and i am…

but how do i explain that the places i come from

don’t exist anymore?

that the plurality of my heritage doesn’t equal home?

i say that i belong to the desert.

it’s the only answer that makes sense

because nothing really fits.

ahavat hayam

i love the sea, and the sea loves me.

i love the desert, but it doesn’t love me back.

i am afraid of open water…

maybe that’s my punishment for deserting the desert.

the thing with an open space like the sea and the desert

is that it can swallow you

it can consume you

it can confuse you.

home?

bayit?

beis?

where is that?

“The Talmudic Revolution”

“The Talmudic Revolution”

The year I first cracked open a book of Talmud was 2006, and life was pretty good. I was a moderate liberal filled with the righteous indignation of the Bush years, I was a 19-year-old Birthright-style Zionist in Israel (The Land Flowing With Beer and Single Jews My Age), and I was a loyal and proud son of the Conservative Jewish movement. Sure, life wasn’t perfect. I had an undiagnosed panic disorder, no girlfriend, and my friends back in the states missed me, and I missed them. But surely the Democrats were about to sweep the midterms, and with Israel withdrawing from Gaza, peace couldn’t be many years away, right? Talmud was an exciting intellectual adventure, and a necessary step on my way to the Rabbinate. As the foundation of Jewish religious thought, Talmud would clarify the complicated Halakhic discussions that I had been told were the heart of Jewish life. At that time, my religious life and my political beliefs were distinct.

Now it’s 2015, and I’m angry. I’m angry about the corrupt and violent “justice” system in America. I’m angry about the millions of deportations. I’m angry that women’s reproductive rights are being eroded almost daily. I’m angry that Israel, a state that claims to represent my values as a Jew, maintains military rule over millions of people. And I’m angry that the majority of Jewish leadership is silent on these issues. In short, I’m your average outraged radical leftist, looking to tear down the structures of our world and put up new ones.

So what changed me? Simple, really: Talmud.

Oh, there were lots of betrayals of trust by governments and politicians, lots of shocking revelations, lots of long, hard conversations. But the reason I’m a radical leftist, the reason I believe in taking to the streets and demanding a better world, is Talmud.

Talmud is a deeply conservative book, true. It was written by the rabbis of Roman Palestine and Sassanid Babylon, an elite class of religious leaders with ties to imperial power who trace their lineage and their right to rule to a divine revelation. But that’s just the history. In content and methodology, the Talmud is deeply subversive. There is not a single law that isn’t reexamined, reversed, and re-reversed. The rabbis regularly overthrow one another’s viewpoints. There is no power, including the Divine Power, that is not  challenged and questioned. Talmud is a revolution, printed on the page.

I am fascinated by the Talmud and the hold it has over me and Judaism. That’s why I started the podcast “Radio Free Babylonia,” which is produced by Jewish Public Media (@JPMediaCo) and debuted this past week.  I am excited that the project will be appearing alongside the other great shows Jewish Public Media is producing, but mostly I’m excited to share the Talmud I’ve come to know and love, that powers my belief in a more just and beautiful world. Radio Free Babylonia examines class, race, sex and privilege as matters of Talmudic inquiry. We will be calling out the Talmud for its sins and using the Talmud to call out our own ignorance and bias. We are pulling a heist, an emergency rescue mission. We will find Talmud where it has been wasting away, in all its academic pomposity and yeshivish insularity. We will smash and grab all of that ideology, and argumentation, and brilliance, get it out of the ivory tower and onto the streets.

Talmud radicalized me. I’m sure as hell gonna try and return the favor.

Book review: The Yemenite tragedy

#to read

Seth J. Frantzman - author - analyst

Review of The “Magic Carpet” Exodus of Yemenite Jewry: An Israeli Formative Myth, by Esther Meir-Glitzenstein Sussex Academic Press, £67.50 / $89.95, published in The Jerusalem Post Magazine January 10

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN

Yemenite Jews in a camp in Israel Yemenite Jews in a camp in Israel

In 1949 they came from all over Yemen, from 1,000 villages, often traveling on foot to reach camp. “It was a desert place without any sign of vegetation. Refugees living in matted huts, like sardines, living a base, primitive life. The camp has 4,000 people and babies are born every day,” recalled Ethel Slonim, a nurse who had arrived in Aden, now Yemen, in 1948. Many died en route, and in the camp.

Yet even more than half a century later, the traumatic immigration is thought of as a miracle. Why has the myth of the Yemenite migration not been fully understood for what it was: a massive tragedy in…

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Peter Kropotkin: The Anarchist Prince

definitely not yiddishkeit but this post has links to excellent PDFs!!!!

CUNY Graduate Center Anarchist Reading Group

On February 18, we kick off the new year with the anarchist formerly known as Prince. Peter Kropotkin was “the most systematic and profound anarchist thinker of the nineteenth century,” according to Peter Marshall.1 Geographer, theorist, and reluctant aristocrat, Kropotkin was one of the first truly international celebrities—known to the European and American publics as a brilliant scientist who just happened to hold some unconventional political views. At the time of his death, the Royal Geographic Society published an obituary that referenced Kropotkin’s politics only “to express regret that his absorption in [anarchism] seriously diminished the services which otherwise he might have rendered to Geography.”2 Notwithstanding such objections, Kropotkin’s anarchist vision is rooted in his scientism insofar as he understood his politics as directly related to his commitment to rational empiricism. How does one go about creating a society based on the principle “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need”?

Because Kropotkin is quite commonly…

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