As the horrific news of more violence and more death pours in from Jerusalem, the JVP rabbinical council stands in mourning with all those who have lost parents and children, homes and houses of prayer, sisters, brothers, and friends. We renew our efforts to be a voice for justice and peace for all people in Israel and Palestine.
We offer this bundle of poetry as a way to reflect and heal from the reports of mounting violence and to recommit to being part of building a future of which we can all be proud.
1. A prayer in remembrance
by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat and Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
May the memories of those killed in senseless hatred be for a blessing.
May their spirits be lifted up and comforted in the close embrace of God’s motherly presence.
May our precious children be safe from harm.
May all the children be our children.
May we protect all parents from mourning.
May our hearts and the hearts of our people be healed quickly in our day from the wounds of the past and present.
May every grieving parent find comfort.
May we live to see the day when no parent has to grieve.
In Hebrew, translated by Rabbi Lila Vesid:
מאת הרבה רחל ברנבלט
והרבה לין גוטליב
יהי רצון שזכרם של בנינו
שנהרגו בשל שנאה חסרת פשר
יהי רצון שרוחם תעלה
ותתנחם בחיבוקה החם
.והאימהי של אלוהים
.יהי רצון שילדינו היקרים יהיו בטוחים מכל צרה
.יהי רצון שכל הילדים יהיו ילדינו
.יהי רצון שנגן על כל ההורים מן השכול
יהי רצון שלבבנו ולבבם של בני עמנו
יירפא במהרה בימינו
.מפצעי העבר וההווה
.יהי רצון שכל הורה אבֵל ימצא ניחומים
יהי רצון שנזכה לראות את היום
שבו לא יהיו עוד הורים אבֵלים
2. Let Us Join Those Who Refuse
by Melanie Kaye-Kantrowitz
let me be strong as history
let me join those who refuse
let there be time
let it be possible
let no faction keep me
from those who suffer
let no faction keep me from those who needed a home
and found one
[let no faction keep me from those who had homes
and lost them: stolen, walled off, razed, occupied]
let no faction keep me from those
who need a home now.
by Taha Muhammad Ali
At times … I wish
I could meet in a duel
the man who killed my father
and razed our home,
a narrow country.
And if he killed me,
I’d rest at last,
and if I were ready—
I would take my revenge!
But if it came to light,
when my rival appeared,
that he had a mother
waiting for him,
or a father who’d put
his right hand over
the heart’s place in his chest
whenever his son was late
even by just a quarter-hour
for a meeting they’d set—
then I would not kill him,
even if I could.
Likewise … I
would not murder him
if it were soon made clear
that he had a brother or sisters
who loved him and constantly longed to see him.
Or if he had a wife to greet him
and children who
couldn’t bear his absence
and whom his gifts would thrill.
Or if he had
friends or companions,
neighbours he knew
or allies from prison
or a hospital room,
or classmates from his school …
asking about him
and sending him regards.
But if he turned
out to be on his own—
cut off like a branch from a tree—
without a mother or father,
with neither a brother nor sister,
wifeless, without a child,
and without kin or neighbours or friends,
colleagues or companions,
then I’d add not a thing to his pain
within that aloneness—
not the torment of death,
and not the sorrow of passing away.
Instead I’d be content
to ignore him when I passed him by
on the street—as I
that paying him no attention
in itself was a kind of revenge.
4. Dirge Without Music
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.
The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,—
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave.
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.