February 10th, 2006

From"Decoded" The arrival

(no subject)

I have been really hesitant to post this on my general LJ. It gets down to my most fundamental and cherished spiritual convictions, but is couched in terms that presume a certain knowledge of both traditional and progressive Jewish practice, legend and lore. It recently appeared on the LJ group, liberaljews, and was well received. There. It is poetry from the heart, a primal scream first inspired in the early 1960s by one of many plays about 'the Kaddish of Rabbi Levi' and by the first version of Leonard Bernstein's Symphony Number 3, "Kaddish". It is not about Zionism, except to the extent that Judaism is inherently the story of the people of Israel, whether in Finland or America or Venezuela. I hope it will be received in the spirit in which it is conveyed, a sharing of my spiritual core with a broader readership.

"let me say there was a Levi Yitzhak
from Berditchiv and he according to a prayer
song he composed brought the Master of the
Universe to a din toyra on Yom

I never say Kaddish, the prayer for the dead.

I stood mute at my father's funeral, angry at

God, wishing
I was an atheist; life must be so simple for

such as these;
Simple, that a godless void absorbs so

cruelly, simple for
Those who live as if this were not a dream of

God, more idea
Than machine.

Ah, thou ghost in the machine, I stood mute,

angry beyond
All hymns, and I thought back ten years past,

Leonard Bernstein's
Third Symphony; was the great man also angry

at God?
Fresh memory in blood, "To the Beloved Memory

of John F. Kennedy."
The Kaddish, Rabbi Epstein drones on,
"Yeetgadal v' yeetkadash sh'mey rabbah (Cong.

May His great Name grow exalted

and sanctified (Cong. Amen.)
B'almah dee v'rah kheer'utey
in the world that He created as He

v' yamleekh

malkhutei,b'chahyeykhohn, uv' yohmeykhohn,
May He give reign to His kingship

in your lifetimes and in your
uv'chahyei d'chohl beyt yisrael,
and in the lifetimes of the entire

Family of Israel,
ba'agalah u'veez'man

kareev, v'eemru: Amein.
swiftly and soon. Now respond:

but I hear the voice of
Felicia Montealegre, she intones her

husband's lyric,

"Are You listening, Father? You know who I am:
Your image; that stubborn reflection of You
That Man has shattered, extinguished,
banished. And now he runs free, free to play
With his new-found fire, avid for death,
Voluptuous, complete and final death.
Lord God of Hosts, I call You to account!
You let this happen, Lord of Hosts!
You with Your manna, Your pillar of fire!
You ask for faith, where is Your own?"

And I scream, inside, almost out, the legions
Of elders and family and business people,
Hundreds stand by, I catch the pall of death

Charlie Hudson's face, frozen I am inside,
The coffin neatly carried by six. Ah, ah,
What is this? A quarter century passes, and

Alex and
Cousin Rita and I alone with the third

assistant Rabbi
From the A.A. bury my mother, he says
Kaddish, I sit mute again, wiser but no less

After, I say to him, "You should have said

Ashkenazi version. She was of that dead stock,
And I know its no longer P.C., but do we have

Finish Hitler's work, and kill the Yis-gadal?
The young man looked perplexed.
We should all die, perplexed, They say.
But why should I care, I do not say Kaddish?
I have no excuse for God.
Not even that He is Not.

"L'eylah meen kohl

beerkhatah v'sheeratah,
beyond any blessing and song,
toosh'b'chatah v'nechematah,

da'ameeran b'al'mah, v'eemru: Amein
praise and consolation that are

uttered in the world. Now respond:
(Cong. Amein).
(Cong. Amen)."

No place to hide. I muse at

"Look at it, Father: Believe! Believe!
Look at my rainbow and say after me:

Brave words, o, Conductor, but what shabby
mortal beasts
Do we dignify so, I cannot let go
Of either God or Man? Nor forgive
Either, in my rage, speak not of peace
When there is none but the grave.
For the Haughty, for the Slave.
Equality of the conqueror Worm.
They tell me Rabbi Levi Yitzchok
On the Day of Atonement
On Yom Kippur, would not say Kaddish,
But, pounding his fist upon the bima,
Pounding, I say, called Yahweh Almighty to
A Bet Din, a Court of Judgment.
"A Din Toire Mit Got"“ A Judgment Against
God", and even God had to listen, to this brave
Tzaddik, this Holy Man, Reb Levi Yitzkhok ben

of Berdichev. God, it is said, won his case.
O.J. gets off. Again.

So, I follow the new Reform, the Gates of

So far removed from that Union Prayer Book and
The blaring organ played in the balcony by

that nice
Gentile lady, when I was a boy, we were busy
Running from the goyim, by passing for white.
Somewhere the train stopped running, and Moshe

Rode tanks into Egypt, did not stop at Sinai
Knocked on Nasser's fucking door, and we

Playing Sunday-go-to-meeting Judaism;
Lox and bagel Judaism;
And, with determination, reclaimed
Ourselves, our heritage, without a trace
Of superstition, save one:
A god who we must not anger, even
With our grief:
A proper Sistine Chapel god, scowls
In High relief. Kaddish instead of
Shouting. Praise instead of fists,
Let me tell you people, tell you God,
It is still like this:
I never say Kaddish. I am a mourner's
Heretic. I stand respectfully mute.
Respectful of those who mourn, but
Angry at God Almighty still:

"Oseh shalom beem'roh'mahv, hoo ya'aseh

He Who makes peace in His heights,

may He make peace,
aleynu v'al kohl yisrael v'eemru:

upon us and upon all Israel. Now respond:


And I scream for the world. Agony. Resolve.
I will heal the World.

"Now behold my Kingdom of Earth!
Real-life marvels! Genuine wonders!
Dazzling miracles! ...
Look, a Burning Bush
Look, a Fiery Wheel!
A Ram! A Rock! Shall I smite it? There!
It gushes! It gushes! And I did it!
I am creating this dream!
Now will You believe?"

Leonard Bernstein
"Kaddish" Symphony No. 3

what allen buys into - Wissenschaft des





"We consider ourselves no longer a nation, but

a religious community, and therefore expect

neither a return to Palestine, nor a

sacrificial worship under the sons of Aaron,

nor the restoration of any of the laws

concerning the Jewish state." CCAR, 1885

"During two millennia of dispersion and

persecution, Am Yisrael never abandoned hope

for the rebirth of a national home in Eretz

Yisrael. The Shoah [Holocaust] intensified our

resolve to affirm life and pursue the Zionist

dream of a return to Eretz Yisrael. Even as we

mourned for the loss of one-third of our

people, we witnessed the miraculous rebirth of

Medinat Yisrael, the Jewish people's supreme

creation in our age." CCAR 1997

Allen Bar Khoenim Greenfield
  • Current Music
    Kaddish - Leonard Bernstein