First Day of Religious School

by Arlyn Miller (Glencoe, IL)

A new beginning, possibility born
from the holiness of Ne’ilah.
The gates have closed –
the gates have opened.

Families walk, children skipping or dragging along.
Cars pull up surrounding the synagogue,
a staccato symphony of doors slamming shut.
Wide open, the door to Am Shalom
welcomes her people of peace.

The New Year is ushered in
with the annual pilgrimage
to the first day of religious school.

The Rabbi sings to the children –
abandon and zeal on the heels
of a not long broken fast.
The children sing back,
sparked and spirited.

How can we deny the Divine?

Yesterday, during Yom Kippur morning service
the ominous sky decreed  torrential rain.
This morning, sun lights the world anew
radiant as the children’s voices –
ruach resounding
like the shofar’s call
announcing the New Year.

This poem is Arlyn Miller’s first installment in her project this year to chronicle the life of her synagogue (Am Shalom in Glencoe, IL) as its Writer in Residence.   A writer herself, Arlyn teaches creative writing in schools and in the community through Poetic License, Inc.  You can find out more about her and her work at

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Filed under American Jewry, poetry

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