The Jew in The Room

Photography/SaatchiArt

Photography/SaatchiArt

The glossed silk top of challah bread glistens on the dinner table

For the sunset tonight shall beckon to  the goddess that is Shabbat

She visits our household 

once again,

like she has,

every Friday

The table is set, but the family is not yet seated

So I gaze at the television

Eyes hungry for entertainment 

Screen glaring

It tells me 

Eleven shot dead

In another synagogue shooting

My heart drops

Something behind my eyelids aches

My whole heart grieves

And I switch the channel to a comedy

Eyes hungry for pain relief

Instead, idolized characters use the word nazi as a compliment,

Claim the title

With pride

I shut it off, recite the prayer,

Candles aglow, we eat

Not even grape juice relieves my dry throat

Disbanding, I leave the room

The next day, I ignore the new weight in my veins

I decide to visit the library

A man approaches me, pointing to the holy star draped around my neck

I curse my foolishness for letting it be seen,

And I await a foul word or strike;

Instead,

he asks where I got it

The pace of my blood slows to a regular speed

Heart even heavier as it shudders against my rib cage 

Why should I feel fear when my Judaism is noticed?

Why should my worldly siblings and I be portrayed as beasts?

Why must my people die for the sin of being Jewish?

Why should I,

A child,

Have to wake up at seven sharp 

Only to walk to school and hear Hitler jokes,

Watch my peers raise their right arms in mockery of genocide,

After so much of family has perished-

No-not perished (for perished is too gentle a word)

In the Holocaust?

We were stolen and beaten, enslaved and massacred 



Today I wander the halls

heart confused, startlingly heavy

My veins hold the eleven deaths recently lost in Pittsburgh,

and the scars of the man attacked in a Berlin 

My brain does the usual; 

Count the exits,three,furl fists,be ready,locate the weak jaws and faulty insteps

of any unknown peers, lest they recognize any visible sign of my origin

Tuck in my magen david necklace, physical embodiment of my faith,

back beneath my collar

Don’t reveal my Judaism (I repeat this, take breaths; one, two, one, two)

Cannot express my culture

unless I’m sure I’m safe

But I can not ever be sure

My fellow Jewish friend and I, we shared a common dream once 

A second Shoah, this time in my country, occurs

Because those tired of us are in power, 

and are finally eradicating the issue 

My dream tells me

I will be in class

and a uniformed man will enter the room, 

he inquires as to whether or not there any Jews in the class

I fretfully realize that I, a proud fool, have exposed too much to my classmates

so they, not wary of the stranger as I must always be, snitch me out

The Jew in The Room

I am taken, stolen

removed

I am unwittingly fallen ink, blotted out and washed away

from the white gossamer fabric that was meant to be my home

This is why I have no heirlooms

This is why I have no inheritance

This is why I have so few relatives

I am told it happened seventy years ago, seventy whole years

Yet in a sense, each day so grievously less than whole

Seventy broken years

Of generation trauma, broken hope, slaughtered families

Of names recorded in mournful pages, and so many more that are truly lost

I am told antisemitism hasn’t reared its ugly head

Since 1945

The blood on the streets, on our kippahs, on our tichels,

On our tefillin, graves, and Torah scrolls

Beg to differ

I am The Jew in The Room

Let me not be the last Jew to walk these halls,

Or the last to pass these pavements

My nation is cracked, fractured, strained

Aid us in raising our voices

So I may finally be allowed to speak

Of how it feels to be 

The Jew in The Room.

Emily KositskyComment