Page 1

HArvest-HAasif Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

✡ Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology

Writing: Sheldon Cwinn Vincent Dumont-Mackay Marcia Goldberg Carol Katz Ilona Martonfi Gail Marlene Schwartz Sivan Slapak Sophia Wolkowicz Sharon Zajdman EIGHTH EDITION 5774-2013

Succoth 5774-2013


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom始s Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

Exhibit on loan from Israel, Museum of Religion, Amsterdam (2010)

Succoth 5774-2013


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom始s Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

Succoth 5774-2013

HArvest-HAasif CONTENTS EIGHTH EDITION 5774--2013 Words from the editors

1

Sharon Zajdman

Nana

2

ILONA MARTONFI

KIEV

4

VINCENT DUMONT-MACKAY WHAT IS ICE CREAM WORTH

5

MARCIA GOLDBERG

MR. COHEN IN HIS YOUTH

8

SIVAN SLAPAK

FAULT LINES

9

ILONA MARTONFI

THE DISAPPEARED

13

SHELDON CWINN

THE POWER OF SHABBATH CANDLES- A TRUE MIRACLE

14

ILONA MARTONFI GAIL MARLENE SCHWARTZ ILONA MARTONFI CAROL KATZ

KOSSUTH SQUARE GHETTO FALLING UNEARTHING THE SECRET MIKVAH FERDELE

16 17 18 19

MARCIA GOLDBERG

conversion

20

SOPHIA WOLKOWICZ

CONTEMPORARY MIGRATION

21

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES

THE AUTHORS IN THEIR OWN WORDS

22

23

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom始s Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

Exhibit on loan from Israel, Museum of Religion, Amsterdam (2010)

Succoth 5774-2013


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

Dear Readers, With this edition, we are, to some extent, casting off and sailing into the unknown, to explore the passage, not to India, but to the world beyond Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom. Last year was the first where the current edition and all previous editions were placed on the web, and became accessible to anyone anywhere who had access to a computer.  This year we have actively tried to acquire writing from sources other than Temple, and even nonJewish writers who use a theme with a Jewish connection, and we have been successful, as you will see as you turn the pages of this new edition, our eighth since the advent of this publication in 2003. As with all manner of printed material lately, funds are becoming more difficult to access, and in keeping with the spread of paperless magazines and books, the oldfashioned publication we have come to love and even revere, whether a paperback book, a newspaper, or a

magazine, is having a difficult time making its way. “On the other hand,” as Tevye loved to say to himself (and God), we’re saving trees, and reducing the need for recycling paper in a world where natural resources become scarcer by the day.  The new online format will also free us from the tyranny (or the embrace) of the calendar. Up until now, all our editions came out once a year, partly because of what we consider our mandate, to publish in conjunction with, as much as possible, the harvest festival of Succoth (hence our name.) In future, we may be more able to closely link published content to recent submissions, and provide a more ongoing publication, albeit smaller and perhaps less regular. And deadlines may become somewhat irrelevant (although still an incentive for many of us.) So, our ship is sailing out of its quiet home port into what may be a sometimes turbulent, sometimes inspiring, and sometimes exotic ocean, entertaining and informative, and which, we hope, will open our eyes (and yours) to new literary

Succoth 5774-2013

treasure. Perhaps JONAH might be a more apt title for our transformed publication. Enjoy! In this moment of transition, we wish to acknowledge the unstinting support of, first, Rabbi Leigh Lerner, who immediately offered his support when this anthology was first proposed, and to David Abramson, whose generosity, lo these many years, has given us the time to find our way and to grow beyond our initial boundaries. Leigh and David, we thank you sincerely.  Zav Levinson Harry Rajchgot

The Editors

Note from the editors: The current and past issues may be found on the web by entering the following URL: https://sites.google.com/a/ gravitationalfields.com/harvest-haasif/ or http://issuu.com/harvest-haasif and as a link from the Temple website.

1


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

Succoth 5774-2013

Nana Sharon Zajdman

In the nightmare world of the Warsaw Ghetto there was a half-starved orphan so in love with literature that when the German occupiers banned the act of reading, she became a courier in a clandestine

“You’re too young to read that. You can read it when you’re eighteen.” Matter-of-factly the hollow-eyed youngster replied,

network calling itself a walking library. Risking her

“I won’t live to be eighteen.”

life, Renata would deliver books to readers.

Surprising herself, the Jewish girl

Sometimes she would receive a tip in the form of a

with the name meaning ‘reborn,” survived. In

piece of bread, but her payment was that she had

time she married, and then became a mother.

access to the books. Literature, always loved, became

Mine. When I was a little girl, my mother

her weapon against despair. Eerily, hiding in the

encouraged and guided my reading, gladly

ghetto, Renata read Franz Werfel’s Forty Days of

feeding my appetite for books. All my

Musa Dagh, his account of the Armenian genocide.

English teachers envisaged my becoming a

Crouched in a corner of the room she shared with a

writer—indeed; there was one who insisted

myriad of relatives, Renata began to read Emile Zola’s

on it. It was with great solemnity that, one

Nana—a story about a French prostitute, who is the

frosty afternoon after school, my mother

ruin of every man who pursues her. Her older brother

presented me with Anne of Green Gables.

pulled the novel out of her hands.

2


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

“When I was your age, I read this book in translation. This book introduced me to Canada. When I was your age

Succoth 5774-2013

with-an-E, tears streamed down the cheeks of my niece’s “Nana.”

my vision of Canada was of a faraway, peaceful land filled

Familiar with the interior of my mother’s apartment,

with snow. I could never have dreamed that one day my very

the concierge of the building in which she lives has dubbed

own daughter would be Canadian-born and I would be giving

her “The Lady Who Loves Books.” The cancer my mother

her this book in the original English.”

lives with has slowed her down, so she doesn’t get to the

The entire Anne series had been on my mother’s

libraries as often as she would like.

My mother holds a

walking library list. Anne of Green Gables was her gift to

membership card in not one, but two libraries.

At the

both of us.

beginning of winter I registered her in a program run by the

My brother’s eldest daughter surmounted a learning

library in her neighborhood. A team of volunteers deliver

disability, and became a passionate reader. She would prop

material to the members who are shut in. My mother

up her novels at the lunch table, read by flashlight in bed,

cheerfully peruses the catalogues and contentedly creates

hide with her books in corners of a large family home, and

lists of the books she wants to read, which are filled by

evade visitors in order to escape into the pages of her latest

couriers who brave the ice and the snow to bring them to her.

literary voyage. The evening after my mother turned eighty, we attended my (now) eighteen-year-old niece’s high school

Yet The Lady Who Loves Books refuses to read to the end of Emile Zola’s Nana. She’s afraid that if she does, her life will arrive at its end, too.

commencement. Sitting in a gymnasium, witnessing the celebration of carefree teenagers in the serene land of Anne-

3


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

Succoth 5774-2013

Kiev Ilona Martonfi

An old toothless female wolf keens marshes, peat meadows and bog barbed wire fence borders the stone road in a dead zone of Chernobyl rosehip, red currant, nettle poisoned with caesium and strontium pear trees village superstition silence of the woods

in a day of evacuation — folktales of Baba rural harvest festival: wearing embroidered white blouse, purple-red linen skirt and apron dancing in the fields always homesick for cold blueberry soup the circus coming to town Rachael in the leukemia ward —

without warning azure painted izba, peasant house, windows low to the ground

her mother collects birch tree juice in the forest around Kiev

4


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

What Ice Cream Is Worth Vincent Dumont-Mackay The street outside was empty despite the summer heat. Jakob sighed and flipped the window sign. As he propped the door open, a dry wind blew some lost five million deutschmark bill across the doorstep. He picked it up as if it was worth something and put it in the till. Maybe it would bring him luck. He erased yesterday's prices from the blackboard behind the counter and wrote the new ones in colorful chalk. Every day, flavor names became smaller so he could fit the extra zeroes. He tried to make himself laugh by thinking that the sale of one single cone would make him a multimillionaire, but mirth was even more expensive than ice cream these days. And nobody ever really laughs by themselves anyhow. He arranged his waffles and bechers into neat stacks and checked the brand new freezer he'd bought in Munich last year, an expensive rarity he'd planned to pay off in five years. But then 1923 had come around and the world of commerce, Jakob's world, had lost its mind. Politicians said things would get better, or at least they did last time Jakob had been able to afford the newspaper, which was about the same time he'd stopped believing anything politicians said. A platoon of French soldiers marched past. They’d moved in a few months earlier, after the French government had decided Germany still hadn't paid enough for the great war. They weren't bad, the soldiers, even bought ice cream sometimes. But their presence made everything tense. People

Succoth 5774-2013

were screaming in basements now, calling for scary, angry things. The door chimes startled him out of his grim reverie. A man in a faded brown suit and hat walked in, awkwardly pulling a wheelbarrow through the door. "Hello there," the man said in a cheery voice. "Hello and welcome," Jakob answered. The man carried a heavy wooden box over his shoulder, and it took him a good minute just to get in, grunting and sweating. When he made it to the counter, Jakob saw that the wheelbarrow was filled to the brim with banknotes. "We have the best ice cream in town. What can I get you?" The man pointed at the blackboard. "Wait a minute, my friend, let me look at your flavors." He put his case on the counter with great care and tipped his hat. "I'm Ernst. Are these prices current?" They shook hands. "Jakob. Depends if you pay before or after you eat." Ernst laughed. "Fair enough. I'll have chocolate, raspberry and hazelnut. And pay now." He gestured at the mountain of cash: “Do you have somewhere to put this?”

5


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition! Jakob looked at the man's worn clothing and scuffed shoes. "Can you... I mean, can you really afford this?" he said. Money was becoming so abstract lately that it was hard to know who could afford what. Ernst shrugged. "It doesn't matter. I'm leaving town today, this is a farewell treat. I'm spending my whole fortune on it. "Really? Your whole fortune on one ice cream cone?" "Well, and this here," Ernst said, tapping the wooden case. "What is it?" Ernst swelled with pride. "A portable belinograph." "A what?" "A belinograph. A machine that allows you to send text and pictures over phone lines. Incredible, isn't it?" Jakob rolled a waffle into a cone and scooped the three flavors onto it. "Here's your ice cream. Just dump your money here behind the register." "Some French guy came up with it. Those damn French have to

Succoth 5774-2013

be good for something, right? Anyway, I'm going to Munich to a meeting. A very important meeting. And I’m going to be sending pictures of it to all the papers as we take back our country from incompetent politicians.” Ernst's eyes were ablaze now, and he was eating his ice cream in big gulps. "We’re going to erase the shame of that damn Versailles treaty. At last." Jakob knew what Ernst was talking about. His smile slipped. "You mean that party that wants to topple the government. With this guy, the one with the little moustache who screams a lot." "Yes. I’m going to join them." “You agree with them?” Ernst finished his ice cream and wiped his hands on a pocket handkerchief. "I'm not sure what I agree with anymore." He pushed the wheelbarrow behind the counter and upended it.

6


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

Jakob put the spoon carefully down in the sink and stared at the pile of money being vomited onto his floor. Then he looked up at Ernst. "You shouldn’t go to that meeting.” “Why the hell not?” Jakob shook his head. "These people, they..." He searched for the right words, “They have nothing to offer.” Ernst looked at the blackboard with the crazy prices on it. “And how do we get out of the mess our country is in? Hm? What do you have to offer, ice cream man?” Jakob picked up one of the banknotes. It bore the face of some king he should have known about. The money was more unreal everyday, just like life. He didn’t know how to answer. Arguments weren’t his thing. Then, without really thinking, he rolled the note into a cone and started filling it with chocolate ice cream. He kept piling it on until it dripped down the paper and then handed it to Ernst. “This is what I have to offer.” Ersnt looked at him like you would an idiot. “Ice cream?”“The best in town,” Jakob said grimly. Ernst just stood there. “Take it,” Jakob insisted, “Take it and eat it and miss your train to Munich.” "Ice cream won't save our country," Ernst said. "Just take it.” Ernst shook his head. “You’re crazy, ice cream man.”

Succoth 5774-2013

He picked up his case, looked one last time at the ice cream in the money cone and walked out without a word. Jakob watched him disappear down the empty street and ate the ice cream himself.

7


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

Succoth 5774-2013

Mr. Cohen in His Youth Marcia Goldberg Take the highest priest, an orphan, almost, And leave him go. He’ll know As Layton said a white mouse would, The way. Our sons like pipers

Put the man who will assist indoors

Need Liberty and find their spurning Nicos

To tread very very carefully around the bowls

In their time, the emerald-shouldered ones,

Set on the kitchen floor. Feet shod,

Their right arms leading them across a room. Let him focus on the order of the day. So let the women step out cautiously

In Hydra there were sun and beach,

To brave the paths they traverse

Amphetamines, hallucinating agents.

With the scroll and veil of ancient days

Could such gifts enable sacred work

That the mass of them don’t know.

And how? No, marriage to the wife of someone else

We have so far to go! Who can count the babes

(or even to the bride he holds) cannot exactly fit

Still suckling at the breast

After sixty years of poisoned living, races

Who next will learn to crawl

To the brink on high hills in someone else’s cottage.

And then to toddle ‘cross the floor?

8


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition! Fault Lines

Succoth 5774-2013

Sivan Slapak

“Excuse me, do you speak

I’ve flown all night to visit my friend Jen

started. “His name is what?” “You’re

English?” I ask in hesitant French, pulled

again, an American woman who was based

moving where?”)

out from the depths of rusty Canadian

in Jerusalem for the last few years. Both of

childhood memory.

The grey-haired

us were drawn into a close community of

Belgian man sitting across from me on the

young Anglos—ingathered exiles of the

train to Bruges responds crisply: “Non.” I’m

Jewish Diaspora -- all digging for our

not surprised by his prickly adamance on

shared heritage and building spiritual

this point— I grew up in Montreal, after

homes, if not physical ones, in our various

all-- but I sense he’s more put off by being

ways. In the midst of Torah study and peace

spoken to by a stranger than by the

work, it was unexpected, to say the least,

language choice. I live in Jerusalem now,

that Jen, searching and receptive though she

where fellow travelers don’t just speak on

is, would fall in love with a Catholic

buses, but squabble like siblings and hold

Flemish folk musician she met on a trip to

each other’s babies while they take turns

the states. And that after a few months of

shuffling up to pay the driver.

flurried weekends full of frisson in random

But here on this early morning commuter train cutting across Belgium, speaking, or even looking at each other, does seem highly irregular. It’s 6 am and

European meeting points (Hungary, Slovenia) she upped and relocated to his tiny, quiet village. (“What’s that now?” we

Back to New York or Boston, married to an ironic educator named Josh, or maybe even an earnest human rights lawyer who strums guitar to unwind—that would have been a predicted outcome. But, as forty approached and the nice-Jewishboy trajectory didn’t make good on its promise, the border between likely and unthinkable became porous, and quirky wonders managed to squeeze in. So instead, Jen is married to Johan, who can trace his family’s roots in West Vlaanderen back to the Vikings, and tunes the hurdy-gurdy to relax. And they live just outside of Bruges, a dreamy medieval town with preserved streets and canals that fairly obviate the words “quaint” and “picturesque.”

9


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

Adjusted to the robed allure of

year-old village castles, then back for

Jerusalem’s ancient debris and modern

indulgent lunches of waffles and beer.

grime, I can barely take the perfect scenery seriously. (Passing through Bruges’ cobblestone pathways and parks on my first visit, I covered my eyes, peeking at a gathering of swans through the narrow spaces between my fingers. “Jesus Christ, Jen. What next, a unicorn?”) Flanders, all fresh flatlands and healthy old people on high bicycles, is much farther than the four hour flight from Jerusalem. That’s my city: demanding and urgent, loud and difficult, and heartbreakingly irresistible to me. I do love it, but thank God I have friends who can offer us all tranquil hospice care after the sweaty acuteness of life in the Middle East. I’m looking forward to another week

On our last visit, Johan came back from morning church service with favors for us: oval candies in the shape of the Virgin Mother. “Marshmallow Mary!” Though enchanted, I had a moment of hesitation before biting off her beatific head, wondering if my act of cannibalism, along with the candy, was kosher. I am charmed by being far from home, sloughing off the stress of being my fervent, fretful self to have tea in someone else’s courtyard. In a way, so are we all, including Johan. We, Jen’s visiting girlfriends, all curly-haired, busty and bustling, hover over the pristine stove,

Succoth 5774-2013

“Johan,” I ask the gentle bespectacled man over my shoulder with a wink, “did you ever imagine that your kitchen would be taken over by three Jewesses making Shabbes?” Incongruous as it seems-- as does Jen’s presence in this subdued place, and their whole shared life -- perhaps he did, ultimately. We are all characters who thrive on the tense fault lines of identity, playful as church treats, devastating as lost homelands and histories. Jen and Johan embrace at this buzzing intersection; I hover over them, both basking and worrying, then retreat back to the uneasy comfort of my own life straddling the seams between familiar and other.

preparing a Friday night meal.

of temperate strolls with Jen to thousand-

10


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

I’ve flown into Liege, an hour from

I am queasy with exhaustion from

Succoth 5774-2013

Nothing, not even a raised brow—

Brussels and two from Bruges, and I want

my all-night flight. Using my backpack as a

there’s been a total lockdown on reactions

to tell Jen when I’ll be getting in this

pillow, I lie down on two seats with the

on this train. I find myself wondering if

morning, but have no phone. The other

hope of sleeping the rest of the way,

pretending to be invisible is a survival

passengers are stiffly encased in their suits

imagining waking to the welcome kitsch of

tactic of the region. I put my head down

and silence, Flemish and French-language

ducklings gliding in a moat.

again, despite the impinging performance.

newspapers shielding closed faces. That’s why I’ve whispered haltingly to the rather aseptic grey-haired man sitting across from me, asking if I could use his cell phone to send a text message. He warily pulls it out from his blazer pocket and allows me to write a brief line, his face free of affect while I struggle with the little keys, and even when I return his phone with enthusiastic thanks I receive only the slightest nod. We withdraw into the apparently natural state of ignoring each other again, and in a few stops he’s left.

But just past Leuven I am jolted awake, disoriented by a crashing, though musical, clamour. In the four-seater directly across from me is a young man, brown and slight, holding a beer, wearing enormous headphones and stomping wildly and precariously close to my reclined head. He is accompanying himself by singing a diverse and ear-splitting playlist in numerous unidentifiable languages. I lift my heavy head and try to catch the eye of another traveler.

The dancer flails large but is remarkably graceful, and though I’m not fearful of being swung at, it feels too close to comfortably keep resting. I think about migrating to the other side of the car, yet some awkward sense of compassion (I don’t want to hurt his feelings) and courtesy (I don’t want to cause a scene) keeps me in my seat. And, despite my tiredness, I am somehow piqued by a show of life in this frozen passenger car as we roll through the bucolic Belgian countryside.

11


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

Yes, we are here-- an invasion of indecorous ethnics-- bienvenue, I think. For

“She likes Indian Jews, that one!” I am jerked out of my torpor as the

Succoth 5774-2013

I’m quite sure there’s only one Jew in this placid car. Unless there are two: one

all my enjoyment of ingrained civility, so

man’s indistinct lyrics suddenly crystallize,

who’s Indian, and one who loves them?

strict and private, it also agitates me,

sharply intelligible. A line from a Woody

Whether a chance lyric or some wave of

making me too aware that only the thinnest

Allen film comes to me, where he recounts

bizarre recognition, his mysterious words

membrane of decorum keeps my own wild

a moment of paranoia to his friend: “I

cut the air between us like a friendly blade. I

rumble contained. Stomp-clap-stomp-sing-

distinctly heard him say ‘Jew eat’? Not ‘did

turn to him and our dark-eyed gazes fasten.

wail-sing-stomp. Between the man’s

you’ but, ‘Jew.’” So I shake it off: no, just

He is a trickster, mischievous and complicit,

thrashing wiry limbs and under my drowsy

like Woody, it’s just what I heard, not what

as he extends his skinny hand to shake.

lids, I gaze longingly at muted fields,

was said. He said Indian juice. Or maybe,

“Non?” he asks with a grin. I fit my hand in

drizzly and bovine, through the train’s

indigenous. My mind is cobwebby with

his, now unsure whether he’s said “No” or,

window. I came for the sedative peace of the

fatigue and the train ride has already

in fact, the Yiddish-inflected query, “nu?”

lowlands, and instead Jerusalem’s high-

launched me into the self-consciousness of a

frequency crazy has followed me; I’m a

fumbling foreigner; I dismiss it. As I brush

magnet, I know.

my mistake aside with a chuckle, with a

Eventually, the cadenced racket and passing landscape lulls me to stare sleepily into the distance.

dancer’s flawless timing the young man gleefully reorganizes his syntax, booming,

“Isn’t it a bit early to be making this much noise?” I ask, bewildered and amused. He smiles, shakes his head no and turns his back to resume his roaring concert all the way to Bruges.

“That one likes Jewish Indians!”

✡ 12


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

Succoth 5774-2013

The Disappeared Ilona Martonfi

White sand dunes carried your ashes to a pond

planting potatoes and beetroot. The women prisoners gathered herbs,

valley-lilies, pit viper, the turtles in peat bog, they ask how and why? Lice crawled on everything. Straw-covered bunks. : Broken pane of glass. Wooden clogs,

dug drainage ditches, made brooms from reed, harvested stinging nettle.

to go from one cellar to another, what thoughts passed through your mind? Walking across the black stones — The disappeared.

Barbed wire cast shadows, removing weeds, digging out, cattle wagons —

13


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

Succoth 5774-2013

The Power of Shabbos Candles – A True Miracle Sheldon Cwinn I have a good family friend who has a daughter Sarah. Soon after she was born, Sarah’s life changed. Her parents’ marriage fell apart, and her biological father wound up in prison. About 5 years later, her mom remarried a Jewish man who hated Judaism. Although most of her family and friends were in Montreal, Sarah’s family moved to Toronto. When Sarah approached 12 years old my heart became restless. I had watched Sarah grow up and for whatever reason I wanted Sarah to have a Bat Mitzvah. Since almost all of Sarah’s extended family and friends lived in Montreal, I decided to make Sarah a Bat Mitzvah. The problem? Her step father! I flew to Toronto and took Sarah and her family out to dinner. I told them what I wanted to do and in the middle of desert they stormed out of the restaurant. How dare I impose my values on them? I understood their point. I do not know why to this day, but I continued to make plans for Sarah’s Bat Mitzvah. Sarah’s grandmother provided me with a guest list. She was very supportive of my efforts. The date was booked. The caterer hired. The days flew by. Sarah’s family was invited to Sarah’s Bat Mitzvah just like any other guest. The Shabbos of Sarah’s Bat Mitzvah arrived. The synagogue was full. Where was Sarah?

Finally with about an hour left in the service in walked Sarah and her family. The Bat Mitzvah turned out to be a great success and Sarah’s step-father who had never been in synagogue as an adult even thanked me. I was proud and happy for doing a good deed for a very nice young lady. After all the guests had left, Sarah came over to give me a hug. “What can I do to show you my thanks?” she asked. “Sarah I have a present for you,” I replied. I handed her two silver candle sticks and a Jewish calendar showing the designated candle lighting times. With tears in her eyes Sarah explained, “My dad will never let me light Sabbath candles. He will throw me out of the house!” “You have a room don’t you?” I asked. “Yes,” Sarah replied. “It’s your personal space. Just go in quietly and light these candles. They are a symbol of your connection to a God who loves you. That would be the greatest gift that you could ever give me. Will you try?” “Yes.” She replied. Well, time past by as time always does and every year on her birthday I sent Sarah a Jewish calendar with the candle-lighting times on it. I never knew if she was lighting the Sabbath candles or not. The years crept by one by one. Sarah was now 20, her Bat Mitzvah just a faded memory, I was sure.

14


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

One day I got a frantic phone call from Sarah’s mother. “Thanks for saving my daughter’s life!” “How did I do that” I asked. “You gave her candle sticks,” she replied. Sarah was desperately drowning and had made friends with the wrong crowd. She was hopelessly into drugs. Her parents couldn’t reach her.

Succoth 5774-2013

This story is absolutely true. I hope it inspires all who read it.

As it turns out, one Friday night, her best friend invited her to an ecstasy party/rave. She was eager to go. Her friend said that she would pick her up at 7:00. “I have something to do in my room at exactly 8:17,” she replied, “you go on ahead and I will meet you at the party.” At exactly 8:17, Sarah went into the tranquility of her room. She prayed that night for God to return her to a quieter life. How did she let herself get so out of control? There in the stillness of the night she took out her lighter and she lit her Shabbos candles and felt God’s love for her. At least she had the solitude of this treasured moment. Sarah’s friend Lisa had been doing a mixture of cocaine and marijuana. In her intoxicated state, she got on the 407 the wrong way. Her car was hit head on by a truck. The girl in the passenger seat was killed. Lisa is a quadriplegic. Today Sarah is 27 years old. She just graduated as a drug rehabilitation counsellor and is married to a medical student who will be graduating this year. As I write this, I just got a call from Sarah telling me that she is pregnant. One thing that she assures me is that every Shabbos evening she prepares the Shabbos candles and tears come to her eyes knowing that a kind and gentle God loves her and that one of his precepts has saved her life.

✡ 15


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

Succoth 5774-2013

Kossuth square ghetto Ilona Martonfi

Grandmother picks sóska,

a woman, named Eszter, shot into the river

sour wild sorrel

at the Chain Bridge, laced summer shoe white leather stack heel

close to the railroad tracks my childhood house colors to purple slate across the street from Liszt Ferenz utca 14

And what of the acacia trees had they lined the Danube back then in this city?

what was she thinking?

barbed wire

Budapest 1944 —

the trams

keep walking until Kossuth square

16


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

Falling Gail Marlene Schwartz

I made my first bargain with God at age nine. My part: assemble two Phantom 54 gliders all by myself. God’s part: let me grow up to be a pilot. On the first night of Hanukkah every year, my parents gave my little brother Josh and me new gliders. The eggshell-soft planes seldom lasted more than a few weeks and typically ended up crushed under somebody’s heel. But despite their fragility, the gliders carried an ethereal magic that always brought us outside for launching in the single-digit Montreal December evenings. If Dad was sober, the four of us would light the candles, sing the blessings, and Josh and I would squirm and jump and fidget while Mom went upstairs to get our presents. She teased us, wrapping the wafer-thin Phantoms in hatboxes, Chutes and Ladders boxes, even one year a washer and a dryer box. She claimed she wasn’t mechanically inclined enough to assemble the planes, but she sure wrapped a mean present. Once the boxes were open, we’d beg Dad to put the gliders together and he would tease us too. “But I don’t remember how!” he’d say, putting on his fake sad face. Josh would jump on him and pound his neck with little

fists and I’d dive for his legs, all of us laughing and tickling and shrieking and falling. Once Dad finished assembling, we’d sit on the porch with him, watching him puff a Camel, tossing one and then the other Phantom into the crackling-blue night. Josh and I would suck in and breathe out, pretending we were smoking too, and we’d take turns running to rescue the Phantoms from the snow mounds where they landed. The years Dad was drinking were quieter. He stayed upstairs in his study nearly all the time, leaving the three of us awkward and unbalanced, like a mobile missing one of its pieces. I noticed my mother’s cheeks were dull yellow as she recited the Shehechiyanu, unlike the glowing Barbie pink we were all used to. Maybe her face was like one of those mood rings that the girls in my class wore. But Mom insisted on joyful holidays. The years Dad stayed upstairs we got more than our usual one gift per night, provoking much jumping and squealing. One year, I got a brand new baseball mitt. I was the only girl on my block that had one, and even some of the boys eyed me with envy as I tossed the ball with Irving Levine across the green of the cul-de-sac. In 1981, my Dad was laid off at Thanksgiving and he stayed upstairs drinking until February. He smelled and would whomp whoever got in his way so Josh and I stayed in our alien space ship fort in the basement as much as possible. I built it with Irving and it had a control panel made of Christmas lights we’d found at a garage sale, levers from Dad’s old tools and 2 sets of broken Walkman earphones for the pilot and copilot.

Succoth 5774-2013

On the first night of Hanukkah in 1981, I woke up and realized there would be nobody to assemble the gliders. After lighting candles, Mom, pallid and birdlike, handed us each a large record-album shaped package. Josh and I tore into them and, despite the Abba jackets, we knowingly pulled out our Phantoms. Josh, five, looked at Mom with concern. “Can you make my plane, Mommy?” Smiling, she picked him up and suddenly began to weep. I only saw that one other time-at my Grandpa Joe’s funeral-and my hands immediately started sweating. Knocking on Dad’s door wasn’t an option. I could call Irving but I had my pride. That’s when I thought of the bargain. God had performed all kinds of miracles, like parting the Red Sea and saving Noah and the animals. Maybe if I could help mom, just a little, just this once... “C’mon Joshy,” I said, “I’ll do the planes.” Mom put Josh down and padded upstairs in her sheepskin slippers, closing her bedroom door behind her. We watched her leave. Josh looked at me and there was a second where he could have started crying. But when I took my brother’s hand, he sighed instead and I felt his body soften. We took our freshly made gliders and I slowly led my brother into the bitter cold night.

✡ 17


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition! Unearthing the secret mikvah

Cobbled with sea stones

Succoth 5774-2013

Ilona Martonfi

brocade, damask, and silk weavers daughter of the conversos: Crypto-Jews

oleander, prickly pear cactus

settling among lemon groves

arid hills of date palms, almond trees

the door of the wind

You descend into the chamber

the door of the wind

in the hypogeum

entrance to a steep staircase

trials of the Holy Inquisitions

parchment dated June 1492

descending 36 steps

Jewess from Baglio di Baarìa

slopes of Mount Catalfamo

il Bagno Ebraico

carved out of bedrock

the mikvah

wick burning oil lamp

when the sun sets

waters of the mikvah

Judaic ritual baths

perform your ablution rites

of a mother-in-law

bride before her wedding

Giuseppa Mulè

what did your family do at a wedding,

— after you bury your daughter

in mourning?

✡ 18


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

Succoth 5774-2013

FERDELE by Carol Katz I called my grandfather “Zaidie.” Only when I was much older did I learn his true name. Gedalia or George was a peddler of scrap. In the 1950’s, horse-drawn wagons still plied the streets of Montreal. Gedalia owned a horse, which he called “Ferdele.”(Yiddish for female horse). She had light brown sheen with a silky long black mane, a white, furry face and pink nose. Her long white furry legs covered her hoofs. She gazed at me with such intelligence and understanding. Ferdele looked enormous beside Zaidie’s small stature and thin body. However, she neighed with pleasure whenever Gedalia stroked her or fed her. I became attached to Ferdele. The stable was in back of his house. I loved the smell and feel of the rough bails of hay. Zaidie would unhitch the wagon and put it and the horse to sleep for the night.

I begged and begged my Zaidie to

I began to relax the reins. Without

let me accompany him on his

warning, the wagon jerked, the

selling jaunts. But his answer was

wheels started grinding and the

always the same: “You are too

horse began to speed up. Before I

young, ‘maydele’ (Yiddish for little

knew it, we were in the air, soaring

girl) and you are too small to reach

like a kite. I grabbed the reins and

the reins.” I put my wish aside and

held on tight. Zaidie was laughing,

concentrated on my schoolwork. So

saliva streaming down his long

when the call came, my heart

greyish-white beard. His kipa slid

skipped a beat, my hands began to

off his head and whirled downward.

tremble and my legs felt weak.

Ferdele began climbing higher and

Zaidie had decided that twelve was

higher, her black, silky mane

old enough to hold the reins. I ran

drinking in the air. The whitish-grey

all the way to his house. Hand in

clouds enveloped us in a soft,

hand, we walked towards the stable.

cotton blanket. My cheeks were

There was Ferdele, standing tall in

flushed. I had to close my eyes to

all her majesty.

keep out the gusts of wind. Swallows flew towards us and

The wagon with its rickety wheels

perched on our noses.

stumbled along slowly. Ferdele seemed to know when to adjust her

I heard a strange sound. I opened

pace. As we passed the houses, we

my eyes. Zaidie was shouting:

shouted: “Bottles, Metals, Clothes.”

“Rags, Clothes, Bottles.” A woman

People would come to us, pick

came out of her house and picked

some items and give us a few cents.

an old, long, flowery skirt, a nickel

I felt a sense of wonder at a world

in her hand.

so different from the classroom.

✡ 19


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

Succoth 5774-2013

CONVERSION

Marcia Goldberg

In two days the crab-tree blossoms turn from ruby rose against the blue to pinked-grays. A storm approaches as I in my seventieth year lie on a garden chaise viewing tree blossoms turning white as a pillow slip across white feather pillows and sky filled clouds imagining cumulus and blooming apple clusters one and a piece with my pillowed old gray head. It isnʼt long till I sense it may disintegrate.  As if there were any doubt, a blur of rain sheets flash and that quick and I know it.

20


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth SholomĘźs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

CONTEMPORARY MIGRATION

Sophia Wolkowicz

I found a country where

I found growth where

And now,

I could seek my identity

I could seek truth

I am stateless

I found my identity where

I found truth where

âœĄ

I could seek my community

I could seek beyond borders

I found my community where

I found freedom in

I could seek my role

Succoth 5774-2013

uncharted spaces

I found my role where I could seek meaning

I found meaning where I could seek love

I found love where I could seek growth

21


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

Succoth 5774-2013

This issueʼs writers, in their own words: Sheldon Cwinn: Having lived as a frum Jew for many years, and now embracing reform, mywriting reflects the stories and the miracles that I have witnessed and the joy of love for God and people of all walks of life. Vincent Dumont-Mackay: He is a father, ER doctor, writer, and bender of the space-time continuum. He is also founding editor of Here Be Monsters, a speculative fiction anthology and blogsite. http://herebemonstersanthology.blogspot.ca/ Marcia Goldberg is a retired professor of English and spirited wordsmith who gives readings at The Yellow Door, Cafe BBAM!, Burritoville and the Visual Arts Center in Westmount on occasions, She is working on her sixth chapbook, The Chadwick Cycle, and a volume of collected poems. Her poetry has been featured in previous editions of Harvest-HaAsif.

Carol Katz has been writing poetry and short stories for the past 15 years. Her publications include stories, poems, essays in various anthologies, and her first children’s book: Zaidie and Ferdele: Memories of My Childhood. (Deux Voiliers Publishing, 2012.) Her inspiration comes on buses. She calls it “Writing in Motion.” She is also an art enthusiast, guitarist and retired archivist. She lives in Montreal, Quebec, is married to Sol Katz and has two children. Ilona Martonfi: Author biography: Ilona Martonfi Author of two poetry books, Blue Poppy, (Coracle Press, 2009.) Black Grass, (Broken Rules Press, 2012). Published in Vallum, Accenti, The Fiddlehead, Serai. Founder/producer of The Yellow Door and Visual Arts Centre Readings, co-founder of Lovers and Others. QWF 2010 Community Award. Gail Marlene Schwartz holds a juris doctor degree, BA and MFA degrees. Founder/ director of Third Story Window and ensemble member of Promito Playback Theatre and Montreal Playback Theatre, she is a writer for Parents Canada magazine and the anthologies Hidden Histories (Brindle and Glass) and How To Expect What You’re Not Expecting (TouchWood Editions), and of multiple plays and web content. She has edited, and has taught writing at Northwestern University, the University of Vermont, the Community College of Vermont, and the Association Emmanuel. Sivan Slapak, a former Montrealer, has been living in Israel for close to 20 years and completed her MA in English Literature at Hebrew University in Jerusalem this year. She is an art therapist, educator, and medical clown. She edits and writes, and until recently, worked for The Adam Institute for Democracy and Peace in Jerusalem, which attempts to bridge the gulf between Israelis and Palestinians. She is presently on tour in Canada. Sophia Wolkowicz is an art teacher, mom, wife, sister, guitar-granny, friend who hopes she is worthy of all the people who have inspired her and are her touchstones. Hence the poetry. Her poetry has appeared in previous issues of the Harvest-HaAsif Anthology. S. Nadja Zajdman is an essayist and short story writer. Her work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, anthologies and literary journals internationally, as far afield as New Zealand.  She has performed her material on radio and in public readings.  In 2012 Nadja published a collection of her stories entitled BENT BRANCHES.  She lives in Montreal, Quebec.

22


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholomʼs Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

In appreciation of the past and present generous supporters of Harvest-Ha’Asif

Submissions for the next edition of Harvest-Ha'Asif can be made at any time c/o the Temple office or, preferably, by e-mail to: theharvest@sympatico.ca

David Abramson Rabbi Leigh Lerner Zav Levinson Barbara Morningstar and David Mizrachi Harry Rajchgot Vivianne Schinasi-Silver

Illustrations and photographs: !

p.6. Belinograph illustration http://

www.radiofrance.fr/sites/default/files/pages-galeriesphotos/belimographe_1925.jpg !

p. 21. Sophia Wolkowicz

!

all other illustrations Harry Rajchgot!

Succoth 5774-2013

The current and all past issues of Harvest-HaAsif may be found on the web at the following URL: https://sites.google.com/a/gravitationalfields.com/harvesthaasif/ or http://issuu.com/harvest-haasif and by a direct link from the Temple website.

All copyrights remain the property of their authors and illustrators.

23


Harvest-HaAsif!

!

Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom始s Literary Anthology! Eighth Edition!

Exhibit on loan from Israel, Museum of Religion, Amsterdam (2010)

Succoth 5774-2013

Harvest-HaAsif 2013  

Literary Anthology

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you