The Gentle Jew

They say after the Holocaust

There will be no more gentle Jews

But I am so gentle

I faint at the museums to atrocity

I shake and freeze at every siren or rocket

I’m too afraid to board a plane

Or live in the homeland

I cannot bear to watch politics

I do not shout back at the protesters

I do not wear the star in public

I would be useless in the military

I feel too cold for intimacy

And too lethargic and furious

And scatter-minded for childrearing

Because I cannot bear the women gossiping

About when I will find a husband

Or the professors and rabbis

Talking down to me as if I am a child

Because I cannot stand the propaganda sessions

Where they talk of our heroic toughness

And never-yielding willingness

To confront murderous hatred

Because I forget

Our history, my name, where I left my pocketbook

Because I can’t forget

How they tried to kill us

And how my own people turned on me

Because I was crying too loudly for us all

But do you forget

How I weaved the stories of our ancestors

And I recited the prayers with all my heart

And I held your hands and the family together

How I taught and comforted your children

How I asked the rabbi all of the questions

How I lit my candles

Every night in Charlottesville

And I sang about what I knew was coming

Soon enough to my country

How I rejoiced like Yentl

For the love of learning

Or preserved like Tzili

Through sheer blind foolishness

How I stood on the bema

With a light on my face

As I poured over the letters of the Torah

Like I was in love?

I am the one who can tell you

What you need to hear

If this people does not have a place for Jews like me

Then there really will be no more gentle Jews

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