Monthly Archives: September 2012

Silent Meditation

by Natalie Zellat Dyen (Huntington Valley, PA)

The earth spins
Through hours and days and seasons
To a time of stillness
When the shofar sounds
And we reflect on the dark nights
Of angry words and stricken souls
Of broken bodies and broken promises
Of empty spaces left by those who are no more
And we reflect on the bright days
Of birth and breath
Of music and miracles
Of kind acts and loving arms
And the gravity that keeps us firmly grounded
As the earth spins.

So we reflect
And repent
And look ahead
And promise to do better
And give more
And love more
As the shofar sounds
And we turn to face the new year
And the earth spins
And we go round again.

Natalie Zellat Dyen is a freelance writer and photographer living in Huntingdon Valley, PA. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia Stories, The Willow Review, Global Woman Magazine, Intercom Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and other newspapers and journals. Links to Natalie’s published work are available

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Me, George Herbert, and the High Holidays

by Mel Glenn (Brooklyn, NY)

What do I, little Jewish boy from Brooklyn,
have in common with George Herbert,
17th century metaphysical poet and priest?
A lot more than you might think,
he in italics, me in Times New Roman.
I Struck the board and cry’d, No more.
How many times have I abandoned
the temple, the service, and my God?
But as I rav’d and grew more fierce and wilde
at every word….
How many times have I rebelled
at droning words, incomprehensible to my ears?
Me thoughts I heard one calling, ‘Childe.’
And I reply’d, ‘My Lord.’
And so, when the shofar sounds this year,
for reasons I can’t fully explain,
I will be sitting in my usual seat, Row U, Seat 4,
saying “God, I am here,” despite, or maybe
because of, all questions and doubts,
looking to find the exquisite moments of
wonderment and epiphany
I suspect are there.

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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Why I’m Not Doing Tashlikh This Year

by Janet Ruth Falon (Elkins Park, PA)

I’m mad at you, God,
You tricked me into thinking life is fair
And that if I did good things,
God things,
I’d get what I deserved
(which wasn’t so extraordinary, after all,
just the basic stuff like everyone else).
But you screwed me, God,
Holding back from me, then snatching away when I thought it was mine.
And now you expect me to take the crumbs from my pocket and toss them,
my misdeeds and regrets,
into flowing waters?  I won’t.
I don’t have what to give.
Loss after loss has diminished me
And I’m tired and small;
I need to hang on to what little I have.
Of course I’ve made mistakes –
But it’s your turn, God, this year,
To atone
And admit
And commit to making better.
You owe me, God, big time.

Yes, I’m angry.
I should have gone swimming today
Rather than to shul
Where I feel your big daddy hand
Holding me up when I give in,
And give up the fight
flat on my back,
trusting you won’t let me down, or drown.
But I didn’t, God.  Silly me.
I thought I’d visit you and try again.
(I hope you know that the fact I’m there
Means I haven’t given up, not totally,
Not yet.)
So here’s what I want, today;
I want this instead of Tashlikh:
I want you to make it rain.
I want you to take the waters that you’ve sucked up during this long, scorched, yellow summer
And pour them down on me.
I’m parched, God.  I could be dying.
I want you to rain down the waters
that might have been the stream I’d Tashlikh into
And make it flow
Abundant and life-bearing.
I want you to write little fortune-cookie messages —
Apologizing to me,
Forecasting only good things —
And have them wash up onto the shore
Where I can collect them and paste them
Into my journal.
On this day when other people are discarding pieces of themselves
I want the holes in me filled.

Janet Ruth Falon, the author of The Jewish Journaling Book (Jewish Lights, 2004), teaches a variety of writing classes — including journaling and creative expression — at many places, including the University of Pennsylvania. She leads a non-fiction writing group and works with individual students, and is continuing to write Jewish-themed readings for what she hopes will become a book, In the Spirit of the Holidays.

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Filed under American Jewry, poetry