Mitzvah

Mitzvah

“Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.”

Augustine

 

Seated in Atlanta’s Temple for the Bar Mitzvah

of the son of a friend,

my eyes wander in search of scars

from its bombing now sixty years gone by.*

 

While her son, who in a moment will be a man,

reads in Hebrew of the rivalry between Jacob and Esau –

the Jacob who became Israel and fathered the twelve tribes,

 

I note that Germany’s Kristallnacht

terror began on this day,

some eighty years now passed.

 

As the Rabbi stands to speak

Of the future of promise for this child-man,

 

I recall that his Bar Mitzvah long ago

was held in the Pittsburgh synagogue

where a dozen were killed by a shooter,

one for each tribe, only a dozen days now gone.

 

I do not belong to this temple, to any other,

nor even to the children of Abraham.

But sitting here in a place

choosing to look forward and not back,

in a world darkened by sibling spite

hope is still a flickering candle,

a child becomes a man,

and of such small promise

all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

 

*The story of The Temple Bombing is chronicled in the excellent book of the same name by Melissa Fay Green.

 

 

 

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