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Apr 25 2014

In the Midst of Divorce, Finding Peace Through Prayer and Poetry

By at 11:12 am


The children’s service at the synagogue where I teach on Shabbat–filled with singing, dancing, and prayer–is saving me during my never-ending divorce proceedings. Though designed for a young audience, the hour provides an opportunity to reflect on the past week, to give thanks, and to ask for strength in the week ahead. I listen to a few words about the Parsha (the weekly Torah portion), kiss the Torah with the children, and take comfort in the momentary peace.

My favorite part of the tefilah (prayer) is and has always been the silent prayer. While I love our tradition, enjoy the melodies we sing and appreciate the liturgy that has been passed down for generations, the silent prayer is the one prayer I “get.” This prayer enables me to say whatever is in my heart in a way that reflects who I am, silently, unscripted, and uninhibited. My silent prayer now includes hopes for our children and asks for assistance with my problems, but overall the prayer is the same one I have been reciting since I was a child.

This past Shabbat, following class, I joined a friend for lunch at a nearby cafe. As we meandered back to our car enjoying the long anticipated spring weather, we passed by two women on a park bench typing on old typewriters. The sign next to them read, “Give us one word and we will give you two poems.” Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 5 2013

Kveller Poetry Corner: Mitzrayim

By at 3:38 pm

mother and newborn feetPassover is now behind this year, and with it our celebration of the exodus from Egypt. In the middle of the Hebrew word for Egypt, Mitzrayim, we find tzar, narrowness or constriction; yet, surrounding that narrowness, is mayim, water, fluidity, expansiveness.

As a mother of a 6-month-old, my days oscillate between mayim and tzar, tzar and mayim, expansiveness, then constriction, and then back again.

We come home late – me and my baby, Caleb, who I nursed and rocked through an intensive training for work – both of us exhausted.
Isaac, my husband, isn’t home,
and it takes all of my energy just to hold Caleb.
We are so tired, tzar,
so in love, mayim.

Isaac comes home,
we eat pasta in the dark, alternating turns walking our baby around.
Then, my head starts narrowing, squeezing, the light becomes too bright,
our baby won’t fall asleep, Isaac puts him down in the crib to cry,
my head pounds, my sweet baby wails,
TZAR, TZAR, TZAR. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 15 2012

Kveller Poetry Corner: From Father to Son

By at 12:05 pm

baby holding dad's fingerFather’s Day is this Sunday, and we thought you’d like this short and sweet poem, from one father to his son.

When you fall asleep on my arm you make it ten times stronger.

When you lie on my chest it becomes a mountain.

When you wrap your hand around my finger no army in the universe can dislodge us.

I am father: giant, impenetrable, invincible, timeless, ageless, all seeing; cunning, determined, and when protecting you, utterly ruthless.

This is who I am now; this is what you have made me.

So my son, thank you for this first Father’s Day.



Jun 7 2011

Kveller Poetry Corner: Ben Pincus

By at 12:47 pm

We’re happy to bring a little change of pace to the Kveller blog today with some poetry. And not only is it poetry, but it’s poetry from a dad, who, as the writer pointed out to us, are just as good at kvelling as moms. The following two poems by Ben Pincus are from a collection called Other Voices, Drowning.


It’s like the moon, she said, reflecting
three-year-old wisdom as I handed her
the first snowball of winter, so precious
she carried it with her everywhere,
trailing dirty puddles on the floor.

She is learning that things you can hold
are fleeting, possession temporary.

I can conceive of nothing more beautiful
in this moment, than the ephemeral
moon splashing through the skylight,
full across the still immaculate kitchen.


I can’t put my finger on it because it’s missing.
Yep. Cut it clean off just north of the second joint
slammed it in a door when I was maybe nine,
but what’s really missing from this poem is the baby
sucking on my shoulder fussing his first tooth
or maybe just hungry for Mom, doing the laundry
while I try to be brilliant at something other than
bouncing an infant. The delicious way his hair
smells, how do they get that way and where does it go?

Ben Pincus, poet, social worker and Jewish father, works and lives in Rockland County, New York with his wife, many children of all ages, and no pets. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Bowling Green State University. His work has previously appeared in PresenTense, The Jewish Angle, the Journal of Jewish Studies, and Willows Wept Review.


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