Brad Jacobson (Columbia, MO)
Walking by the Kotel
Rabbi Machlis calls out
to the Kenyan and Chinese tourists,
Shabbat Shalom, Shabbat Shalom!
Yesterday two soldiers
were stabbed here in the Arab shuk.
I ask the rabbi if he is concerned
but he says, No, I am with you.
We meet a Muslim beggar.
The rabbi invites him along.
At his home, people are already gathered.
I squeeze into a corner seat.
Rabbi Machlis booms:
Come in, come in,
there is plenty of room.
We crowd around tables.
The homeless man, tourist,
soldier, Christian, Muslim, and Jew
eat cholent, challah, and gefilte fish.
Each one of you
is our special guest,
he says. We are in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Machlis calls me the scuba diver
—he knows I love to dive in the Red Sea—
and asks me to speak next.
Brad Jacobson lives in Columbia, MO, where he teaches ESL. Every summer, he volunteers in Israel. He enjoys hiking in the desert and diving in the Red Sea. His poetry has been published in Tikkun, Poetica, Sar-El, Voices Israel, and other publications.