Unless you know
what it is to look
at black & white proof
at lambs led to slaughter
at herds of the lost
I recently visited Majdanek, a concentration camp in Poland, with my classmates. Afterward, I wrote this piece - part poem and part essay - about what spoke to me there.
As a teenager, I would sit on my bedroom floor listening to old records of Belgian singer-songwriter, poet, and performer Jacques Brel. I didn’t need to keep a journal, because his lyrics wove together everything I felt at the time. Brel had a fire within, and his anger, longing, passion, and truth blazed through every word he sang. His music, raw and real, transformed and fed my soul; it informed and shaped who I am today.
Although we may think time moves in a linear fashion, Jewish holidays insert themselves in unexpected moments and places, seemingly out-of-sync with our expectations.
Each year on Yom Kippur, I join my congregation is reciting the Ashamnu, an alphabetic acrostic of sins for which we repent. And each year, it occurs to me that most of the sins named in the Ashamnu don’t hit me in the heart I’m beating – and so, I wrote my own version of the prayer.
I have a hard time believing that, however good the intentions may be, typing "Please forgive me if I hurt you" into our browsers can create change.
If posting an apology online serves as a starting point for follow-up conversations, I say go for it. How could that ever be a bad thing?
I vowed that if Israel survived, I would never again abandon my people, never again be indifferent to Israel’s fate.