Knesset Eliyahu Synagogue, Mumbai

By Ricky Rapoport Friesem

Published December 18, 2008, issue of December 26, 2008.
  • Print
  • Share Share

the incongruity
of the sky-blue synagogue set
against the filthy Mumbai sky
screams of the innocence
of another
time

when dark skinned Jews
in saris and long kurtas
streamed through the great
blue doors to worship
their one
God

who dwelt among
them in this land of many gods.
Those Jews are long gone now,
returned to the Bible Land
they left eons
ago.

So on a Friday night
when we two peek inside,
the gabbai greets us
with a brilliant smile
He’s found a
tenth!

A minyan. We must stay,
he pleads, and pulls my
husband after him, dismissing
me with a brief nod
to where the women sit
above

and out of sight.
Thus banished I peek down
at the unlikely congregation.
Strangers, silent, ill at ease,
until a single voice rings
out

in a familiar chant
and one by one, all ten join in
the fugue that swells
with rising exaltation. Heads
down, feet stomping, arms
linked

they whirl around
the tribal fire kindled
by their passion. Flames
rise up, engulf me, and I yield. These
are my people. This too is

home.

Ricky Rapaport Friesem, a poet, journalist, filmmaker and grandmother of 12, has lived in Israel since 1972.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.