Martyrology

Poetry

By Jacob J. Staub

Published December 31, 2008, issue of January 09, 2009.
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Had I been there, I would not have
entered the Mumbai Jewish Center.
I am invisible there. Worse,
the rabbi was trained not to see the likes

of me. He would have welcomed someone
I’m not. Always, the Nagid says,
when you most expect it. I warned my son
to watch for the mobs of Granada. It took

ten years, but they came, rest his soul.
Oy, the rabbi’s wife, my daughter’s age.
The rabbi looked like me back then.
There but for the grace of God. I am bereft.

We’d paid the bishop for our rights,
wails Kalonymus of Mainz.
He was supposed to protect us
from the crusading hordes, the dogs!

Refuse to be drawn into the cycle,
but they would’ve killed me too.
Jewish lives not more precious.
Jewish deaths oh so painful.

Imam Yahya of Georgetown mourns
brokenhearted for Jewish blood spilled—
even for those who would dance on his grave.
Speedily in our day may I rise to his level.

Rabbi Jacob Staub is professor of Jewish philosophy and spirituality at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.


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