by Mel Glenn (Brooklyn, NY)

Ashamed of my father’s family,
heavy accents and old European ways,
I had ignored my ancestral roots and
clinging branches that urged me to reconnect
to the shetl stories I had heard so long ago.
But when two long-lost cousins,
one a psychologist and one a rabbi –
two professions not dissimilar from each other –
invited me to their play on the Lower East Side,
where one performs and one witnesses,
I felt a gentle pull from the stage lights
back to my cultural and religious heritage with
a sudden flashback to my bubbe’s chicken soup.
Why am I attending this very Jewish play,
with dialogue in Hebrew, Yiddish and English?
The answer came with one commanding
sweep of the talis thrown over the shoulder
of one of the actors, my cousin
who now draws me back to my four year old self
when I sat with him in the summer sun
on a fire escape in Brighton Beach
and swapped childhood secrets long since forgotten.

The author of twelve books for young adults, Mel Glenn has lived nearly all his life in Brooklyn, NY, where he taught English at A. Lincoln High School for thirty-one years.  Lately, he’s been writing poetry, and you can find his most recent poems in a new YA anthology, This Family Is Driving Me Crazy,  edited by M. Jerry Weiss.

If you’d like to learn more about his work, visit:

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Filed under American Jewry, Jewish identity, poetry

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