Tag Archives: Repentance


by Natalie Zellat Dyen (Huntington Valley, PA)

When someone breaks your heart
Into a thousand pieces
Toss a handful
Into the night sky
To shine like stars
Counted by lovers
Whose hearts have yet to be broken.

Plant them in places
Where nothing grows.
Barren as Hannah’s womb
But pregnant with possibilities of new life.
Gifts of unexpected miracles.

Slip them into the backpacks of strangers
The shopping carts of homeless men
Battered women
And abandoned children.
Anonymous blessings
To ease their journeys.

And take the last, most precious fragments
Of your once heart
And offer them to the one who broke it
To accept or reject.
It’s out of your hands.
But offer you must.
It’s what we do
In these days of endings and beginnings.

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, The Schuylkill Valley Journal, and other newspapers and journals. She is currently working on a novel. Links to Natalie’s published work are available at www.nataliewrites.com.

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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 atwww.nataliewrites.com.

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The Bridge Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

by Janet Ruth Falon (Elkins Park, PA)

It’s a long bridge, and high,
with pilings deep in the water,
dug into the foundation of earth.
It takes ten days to cross,
by foot,
(more, with baggage),
and you have to walk it yourself.
No one can carry you.
People have been known to jump off
but miraculously, survive,
as long as they’re willing to try again
the following year.
Each person decides
how many times to pay a toll
and to whom
along the way.
And you pay with words,
tokens of your repentence:
“I forgive you.”
“Please forgive me.”
But what’s most amazing
is that you’re supposed to keep turning around
as you walk,
turning around
to face four corners
and everything in between,
turning around
to make sure you’ve seen every person
and the scope of your past year
so you can pay up and start fresh
on the other side.
And instead of getting dizzy
as you cross
you feel lighter, and cleaner,
more at-one with yourself
and all the other travelers
and the earth below the water
beneath your feet.
Venice has its Bridge of Sighs;
but this is the Bridge of Awe.

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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The new year cometh

by Chaviva Edwards (Storrs, CT)

Tomorrow at sundown begins Rosh HaShanah, one of four Jewish new years, also THE Jewish New Year by practical terms.  We feat this weekend and then, on Oct 1-2, we consider the trespasses of the past year; how we turned our backs in the field to a G-d so presently standing before us with openness.

I want to share a bit from my “A little joy a little oy” desk calendar. Every now and again it has something fruitful and funny. I always put my calendar a day ahead so I don’t get behind or confused when editing for tomorrow’s paper. In reality, I work a day ahead. But I was poking far ahead to see what the calendar had to offer, because I won’t be here this weekend because of the holiday. For Sept. 23, the calendar quotes Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels in his 2000 Rosh HaShanah sermon.

“… it’s time to put your hand in the hand of someone you love … and recognize that we only have a very short opportunity to be the humans upon the sand and not the pebbles. … It’s time to recognize that the real value of our lives is … experiencing the … seemingly insignificant things. It’s time to recognize that things don’t need to be the slickest … to be great … and appreciated. It’s time to repent but not wallow in repentance. … It’s time to take a stand for … what we believe. … It’s time to realize that we are as small and as very large as the pebble upon the sand, no matter how we count the years. Amen.”

I think it’s incredibly well written and speaks to the essence of the High Holy Days. I look back on the month of Elul at this point and think about a rebirth and renewal I wasn’t expecting. I’ve met someone who makes me feel alive and happy — someone who speaks to my heart without wanting to change me (Ani L’Dodi V’Dodi Li). As the new year approaches, I’m thinking about how life has handed me something precious, something to be truly thankful for as the new year approaches. Yom Kippur will give me a chance to consider the past year and some of the horrible, insane things that went on and that made me turn my eyes downward and away, into the dirt at my feet instead of the figure in the field. It’s funny how long and changing a year is and yet how we can catalogue its events like a shopping list. I intend to mark things off of the list and leave it in the dirt near my feet as I walk away from 5766 and into 5767.

In this week’s parshah, Moses sings to Am Yisrael, saying “Remember the days of old / Consider the years of many generations / Ask your father, and he will recount it to you / Your elders, and they will tell you” how G-d “found them in a desert land.” Moses tells them how G-d made them a people, chose them as His own and gave them a bountiful land. So I remember and give thanks for my people, past and present, not to mention the future of the Jewish nation.

Also something to consider: Ramadan begins on the second day of Rosh HaShanah. Two religions and nations in strife must share a day that happens to be holy in both spheres. I only hope that, with this in mind, perhaps the Middle East will sit still for a day, relishing in the gifts they’ve been given — the Jews for their Torah and Israel and the breath of life and the Muslims for the giving of the Koran to Muhammad. Neither religion or nation is blemish free. I’m not going to argue politics or history, for both peoples have committed crimes and acts that G-d would sooner mark us off than have to watch. But let us hope, and pray, that on Sept. 24 both groups — and all of those who live near — can calm their minds and hands to reach not for triggers but apples and honey.

Chaviva Edwards, currently residing in Storrs, Connecticut, is in her second year of the master’s program in Judaic studies at the University of Connecticut. In her past life, Chaviva was a copy editor for such publications as The Denver Post, The Daily Nebraskan, and The Washington Post. Alongside her master’s work, she is rekindling her insatiable desire to edit through special projects involving Judaism and Jewish topics. She is an avid photographer, devotee of her many blogs, and a Web 2.0 connoisseur.

This piece first appeared on Chaviva’s blog, Just Call Me Chaviva, www.kvetchingeditor.com , in September, 2006. It’s reprinted here with permission of the author.

You can find more of her work at www.kvetchingeditor.com, chaviva.yelp.com, www.twitter.com/kvetchingeditor, and

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