A RABBINICAL LAMENTATION OF THE SEASON FOR THE PEOPLE OF GAZA

Lamenting for Gaza

Lamenting for Gaza

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The following was written days before the Jewish fast of Tisha B’Av: a day of mourning for the calamities that have befallen the Jewish people over the centuries. Among other things, the traditional Tisha B’Av liturgy includes the chanting Biblical book of  Lamentations.

Given the profoundly tragic events currently unfolding in Gaza, I offer this reworking of the first chapter of Lamentations.  I share it with the hope that on this day of mourning we might also mourn the mounting dead in Gaza  along with what Israel has become.

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A LAMENTATION FOR GAZA

By Rabbi Brant Rosen

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Gaza weeps alone.
Bombs falling without end
her cheeks wet with tears.
A widow abandoned
imprisoned on all sides
with none willing to save her.

We who once knew oppression
have become the oppressors.
Those who have been pursued
are now the pursuers.
We have uprooted families
from their homes, we have
driven them deep into
this desolate place,
this narrow strip of exile.

All along the roads there is mourning.
The teeming marketplaces
have been bombed into emptiness.
The only sounds we hear
are cries of pain
sirens blaring
drones buzzing
bitterness echoing
into the black vacuum
of homes destroyed
and dreams denied.

We have become Gaza’s master
leveling neighborhoods
with the mere touch of a button
for her transgression of resistance.
Her children are born into captivity
they know us only as occupiers
enemies to be feared
and hated.

We have lost all
that once was precious to us.
This fatal attachment to our own might
has become our downfall.
This idolatrous veneration of the land
has sent us wandering into
a wilderness of our own making.

We have robbed Gaza of
her deepest dignity
plunged her into sorrow and darkness.
Her people crowd into refugee camps
held captive by fences and buffer zones
gunboats, mortar rounds
and Apache missles.

We sing of Jerusalem,
to “a free people in their own land”
but our song has become a mockery.
How can we sing a song of freedom
imprisoned inside behind walls we have built
with our own fear and dread?

Here we sit clinging to our illusions
of comfort and security
while we unleash hell on earth
on the other side of the border.
We sit on hillsides and cheer
as our explosions light up the sky
while far below, whole neighborhoods
are reduced to rubble.

For these things I weep:
for the toxic fear we have unleashed
from the dark place of our hearts
for the endless grief
we are inflicting
on the people of Gaza.

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Brant Rosen recently resigned* as the rabbi of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Illinois. He is a former president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and is the co-founder and co-chairperson of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council. He has served on the boards of numerous national and local organizations, including Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, Brit Tzedek v Shalom, and Hands of Peace. He is an activist for peace, social justice, and human rights, and he has travelled to the former Soviet Union,Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, and Iran as part of peace delegations. In 2009, he co-founded the Jewish Fast for Gaza, or Ta’anit Tzedek with Rabbi Brian Walt. Rosen is also an active environmentalist. Under his leadership, his synagogue, the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, built their new building with an environmentally sustainable design in 2008, becoming the first house of worship to ever receive a Platinum rating by the U.S. Green Building Council. He was the recipient of Chicago Magazine‘s Green Award for his environmental leadership in 2009. In 2008, Rosen was named one of the Top 25 Pulpit Rabbis in America byNewsweek magazine. In 2009 he was awarded the Partner in Justice Award byAvodah: The Jewish Service Corps and he received the Inspiration for Hope Award by the American Friends Service Committee in 2010 for his social justice activism in the Middle East.Rosen is a native of Los Angeles, CA. He is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

*  Rosen: However, if I’m going to be fully honest, I must also be ready to admit that my decision to leave JRC is being motivated by both a push and a pull. I must also be ready to admit that for some years now I’ve been going down a path that has slowly been pulling me away from the congregational rabbinate and toward a rabbinate more directly defined by social justice activism.

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The above poem originally appeared on Rabbi Rosen’s Blog, SHALOM RAV

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Rabbi Brant Rosen, Personification of the Yiddish word, MENTCH*

Rabbi Brant Rosen, Personification of the Yiddish word, MENTCH*

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* Definition of MENTCH

1 Comment

  1. ben said,

    October 5, 2014 at 19:04

    GAZERNICA
    http://defyingsilence.blogspot.com/2014/08/gazernica.html


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