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If she wants to she eats bread today

March 29, 2007

(saltyfemme says: welcome to guest blogger oneluckyfellow, poet and community organizer extraordinaire)

As a community organizer in Jewish communities, I often ask people to draw connections between their social justice activism and their Jewish experience. For some this is obvious, for others not at all clear, for most there are stories of Passover – the holiday when families talk about slavery and liberation, when college kids spend time on alternative Haggadahs* for meaningful seders.

My given family rips through a 20 minute seder – we stick our pinkies into Manishewitz and drip small circles on to our plates to remember plagues brought against a repressive regime; we open the door for Elijah to symbolically open our home to anyone who needs a place to rest. My first Passover away from home, I found myself at a seder in Maine where they did everything differently and yet I could still understand, because it was the same story and the same rituals, in the same order. Right then, I realized that my individual experience was connected to a collective narrative, and that that held power.

It is up to me to claim my heritages (not just Jewish), learn from and challenge texts and traditions and make them live today. Years after that seder in Maine, a friend and I had our own two-person Seder consisting of (Jewish and non-Jewish) stories of oppression, resistance, and vision. I know we weren’t alone.

With that, I would like to share a few Passover resources with you.

­* Members of JFREJ’s Shalom Bayit: Justice for Domestic Workers campaign put together a set of readings on issues relating to domestic workers’ justice for Passover. It’s a great addition to any seder.

* A last night seder event hosted by Jews Against the Occupation (JATO) on April 10th in NYC.

­ * A poem by me:

Passover

If she wants to she eats bread today
If she wants to she doesn’t eat bread
today. But today the name she
was named to love Israel
in cannot love the taste
of clean cupboards nor
the land that lives by the clock
of Jewish words. The one
that shuts down on Friday
night and rests until Saturday
It tells her when to make
borscht and never runs out of
farfel at the supermarket
The buses shut down and
only men can initiate
divorce because that’s what
the men decided. Her
name is Rose

She cannot
love the wall that lets this
clock run. That lets
a Settler shoot into trees,
watch someone fall
to the ground. And leave
without repercussions. She can’t
love the clock
that takes a Palestinian’s time
to wait on thirty different lines
to maybe send this person who
shot his uncle to jail maybe

She bought olive oil stronger
than all others
in old soda bottles
label ripped off
but cannot love the walk
she took
home to make dinner
to celebrate freedom
when she looks in young male eyes
who cannot love anymore

checking IDs, yelling in the face of
her friend Palestinian
blue Palestinian green
American Secular Israeli Queer
and together,
she resists

the clock
wound by black coated prayer,
with pieces made by red, white,
and blue suited prayer
by no prayer she knows

The clock that hides
women beaten by their husbands or
cleaning houses far away from home
The clock that closes
restaurants and roads, so
she can’t eat where and when she wants to
on the one brief day
Israeli workers get to rest
and she can’t march with Pride
while children wait detained
next to tanks that bear the star
she wears with six points

She can’t ever go home
without their smiles
at the soldiers, their return
to half walls of cement
posters pasted up

If she wants to she cannot
love the way she wants to

though she can move back
to a land whose clock
does not remember
her. Does not always
save a box of farfel
for her breakfast
or rest enough for her
to rest too

Back to rapid time and people blind
fixed on sermons at the temple
where she feels at home

Silent at the Seder
she misses land
she cannot love,
curses her mother’s tradition,
defies her father’s hate,
won’t eat bread today cannot
love today
the way she wants to

*Haggadah-the story of the exodus from Egypt, and our guide for the seder.

tags: guest posts

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3 comments

  1. nice poem…

    On seder references, check out the (unfortunately) still timely, Love and Justice in Times of War Haggadah.


  2. I like your poem, a lot
    thank you!


  3. […] femme shares a poem, ‘Passover’, by guest blogger […]



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