Charlotte’s Web “Into the Animal Kingdom”
2013 The Literary Magazine of Ida Crown Jewish Academy
Outer covers designed by Moshe Brimm Inner covers designed by Anna Shkolnikov
The Literary Magazine of Ida Crown Jewish Academy Chicago, Illinois 2013
Thank you to The Susan and Joseph Ament Endowment Fund for their continued generous support of this project. This foundation has enabled the students of Ida Crown Jewish Academy to showcase their best literary efforts in a public forum. Thank you to the Aments for enabling young writers to shine.
Though we were never privileged to meet Mrs. Charlotte Rosenwald, a”h, it is in her memory that we dedicate Charlotte’s Web. We have heard about her and we understand that she was an extraordinary teacher; she inspired her students to think, write, create, and be proud of their own accomplishments. It is our hope that the words of this magazine will perpetuate her legacy, imparting that inspiration to this new generation of students.
Editor’s Note Dear Reader, The animal kingdom awaits you. Step forward, and take your place in the circle of life. This book encompasses the emotions that make us who we are, and presents them to you with the help of the amazing creatures with whom we share this planet. Every work, be it poetry, prose, or art, has been carefully selected to help you explore your own thoughts, emotions, and very being. Explore. Roar like a lion. Stand out (or back) like a zebra. Run like a gazelle. Laugh like a monkey. Leap like a dolphin. Identify your truth like a skunk. Have confidence like a cat. Show off like a peacock. Trot on like a horse. Find yourself in the chaos of the jungle. This book is here to guide you. Wishing you all the best on your journey, Josephine Gendler Editor-in-Chief 3
Charlotteâ€™s Web Staff 2013 Editors-in-Chief: Moshe Brimm and Josephine Gendler Prose Editors: Elana Perlow, Gavi Kutliroff, Layla Stein
Tali Pelts, Noah Shaffer, Chad Simon
Rivka Polisky, Anna Shkolnikov, Gavi Stein
Layout & Design Editor: Sam Baer Staff:
Gila Baer, Haia Bchiri, Emma Bellows, Anat Berday-Sacks, Rachel Best, Chaim Chernoff, Sarah Otis, Sophie Gordon
Advisor: Mrs. Marsha Arons
Table of Contents
I’ll Meet you in the Kitchen • Revital Chavel...33 Dialogue • Ari Rosenthal..........................................35 Childhood Lesson • Michal Weissberg................ 37
Just Passing Through • Lily Kleinman..................... 8 When I Look Into Your Eyes •Abbie Lowenstein.8 Barbie • Nachi Bloomberg.......................................... 9 Barbie Dolls • Emma Bellows................................... 9 Books and People •Seth Wasserman.................. 11 Momentum • Revital Chavel..................................... 12 Remorse •Audrey Fretzin......................................... 12 Where I’m From •Ben Kaplan................................ 14 Final Goodbye • Sophie Gordon............................ 15 Temptations • Shira Ben-David............................... 15 The Meaning of Irreverance • Tali Pelts........... 15 Sunshine of My First Nephew Anna Shkolnikov..................................................... 16
Kindergarten Lessons • Elana Perlow..................40 The Game of Life • Avi Asher................................ 41 A Gift from Beyond • Josephine Gendler.............42 Mother’s Day Poem • Emma Bernstein................43 A Cloud • Sam Baer..................................................44 A Meal with the Family • Marnina Harris...........45 Observing Steps • Gila Baer.................................45 How to be a Good Daughter to your Mother Lily Kleinman..........................................................46 The White Bobble Necklace Josephine Gendler................................................... 47
Ever After • Haia Bchiri............................................ 18 Hold Tight• Ilan Kaissar........................................... 18 Graduation • Shira Ben-David................................. 19 Untitled • Batsheva Stadlan......................................20 The P’santer • Sarah Otis........................................20 A Natural Rush • Avi Asher.....................................22
“Western Wall” • Sophie Gordon............................48 “Girl with the Violin” • Leah Gaynor..................48 “Eye” • Zalman Brimm..............................................48 “Spring Time” • Rebecca Roffe..............................48 “Freedom” • Lily Kleinman.......................................49 “Car Ride” • Rani Silvert..........................................49 “Concentrate” • Dovi Garfinkel.............................49 “Once Upon a Pancake” • Rivka Polisky............49 “Bird’s Eye View 1” • Ariella Berger.....................50 “Zion” • Josephine Gendler.......................................50 “Elephant” • Leah Gaynor.......................................50 “D is for Dragon” • Yishai Campbell.....................50 “David” • Gavi Stein.................................................. 51 “The Great Leap” • Josephine Gendler................. 51 “Be Creative” • Esther Montrose.......................... 51 “V’ahavta Lreacha Kamocha” Rebecca Roffe........................................................52 “Bird’s Eye View 2” • Ariella Berger....................52 “Dancing in the Rain” • Leah Gaynor.................52
Run • Barry Rosenblum................................................ 24 Balancing Myself • Ariel Perritt............................. 24 Down at the Ravine • Sarah Otis..........................25 For Now Here •Machol Benmelech........................25 Babysitting •Emma Bellows.....................................26 Steady Student • Cheely Birn................................ 27 The Meaning of Stress • David Quintas............. 27 The White Walls Exhibit • Anat Berday-Sacks....28 A Picture of Me • Seth Wasserman......................29 Searching • Kama Neren........................................29 Second Breath • Noah Shaffer..............................30 Mexico • Emma Bellows...........................................32 If You Catch a Fish Wearing a Tie•Sarah Otis.33 5
Table of Contents
“Hepburn” • Rani Silvert.........................................52 “Peacock” • Ariella Berger......................................53 “Hiding” • Zalman Brimm........................................53 “Lachrymose Luna” • Natie Elkaim.....................53 “Journey” • Advanced Art.......................................53
How to be a Bench Warmer • Dovi Garfinkel...64 Wrestling • Gal Gurvich............................................65 I am a Fighter • Maxwel Brasch.............................66 Sorry is Not a Five-Letter Word Machol Benmelech................................................. 67
Photos-------------------------------------------------54 Monkey-----------------------------------------------69 “City Sunrise” • Ariella Berger...............................54 “Green Hills” • Zalman Brimm..............................54 “Beautifal Day” • Oshrat Faratci............................54 “Observing” • Anna Shkolnikov..............................54 “Colorful Night” • Rivka Polisky.............................55 “Butterfly” • Zalman Brimm...................................55 “Rocky Start” • Rebecca Roffe..............................55 “Between the Lines” • Eliana Siegel....................55 “Sun” • Zalman Brimm.............................................56 “Hanging Green” • Sophie Gordon.......................56 “Floating Life” • Anna Shkolnikov..........................56 “Still Morning” • Sammy Greengus.......................56 “Journey” • Ariella Berger.......................................57 “Divide” • Anna Shkolnikov......................................57 “Caterpillar” • Sarah Quintas.................................57 “Old and New” • Eliana Siegel...............................57 “Foam” • Rivka Polisky..............................................58 “Patchwork Guitar” • Ariella Berger....................58 “The Open Road” • Eliana Siegel.........................58 “Homes on the Hill” • Rebecca Roffe..................58
Wicked Wayward Willy Wonka Sarah Quintas.........................................................70 Island B • Frannie Miller...........................................72 The Tooth Fairy • Samantha Miller.......................72 HERO • Haia Bchiri....................................................73 The Lending of a Petal • Ariel Perrit.................. 74 Stream of Consciousness • Yuda Goldbloom.... 74
Aromatic Love • Tali Pelts........................................78 Where to Go From Here • Noah Shaffer...........78 Her Room • Audrey Fretzin......................................79 Last Chance • Tali Pelts...........................................80 Experience • Ben Eisenstein...................................80 Her Room • Marnina Harris.................................... 81
Kohelet, My Cousin, and Me Michal Weissberg...................................................60 Fearless Dancer • Shana Rosenberg.....................60 The Mountain • Chad Simon................................... 61 The Meaning of Anticipation • Dassi Karp......62 Cross Country • Ben Schreiber..............................63 The Light at the End of the Tunnel Noah Best...............................................................63 6
Bartleby Related to Today • Chaim Chernoff..84 Stream of Consciousness • Doni Eisenstein.....85 The Ballad of Lonesome Man Gavi Kutliroff..........................................................86 Should Rumpelstiltskin Be Considered a Villain? • Tamara Soleymani............................ 87 A Single Sound • Tali Pelts....................................88 Dear Sir • Frances Miller.........................................88 Shadow • Shira Ben-David.......................................89 An Oscillation • Tali Pelts...................................... 91 Charger I and II • Josephine Gendler................... 91 A letter to you: Goodbye. Say hi. Avi Asher.................................................................93 The Shadow Game • Brocha Shanes................... 94
Cat Dignity. The self-confidence that allows you to walk through any storm with your head held high. The faith in your own abilities, beliefs, and values. The quality temporarily lost when those abilities, beliefs, and values are compromised. But even7 a cat caught in the rain dries off eventually and returns to look regally down upon you.
Just Passing Through • Lily Kleinman As I walk up to the neighborhood park at 3105 Floral Drive, I look down at the walkway. Each piece of recycled glass from the walkway shines as it reflects light from the sun. I can smell the new grass, the assortment of flowers planted next to the walkway, and the trees, the ones that I used to climb, the ones that the Park District had not cut down. The tall trees, the basketball court, the built-in workout equipment, and the jungle gym all make up parts of this park. When strangers look at this park, they see a beautiful new addition to their neighborhood. When I drive back to this park in Northbrook, I see the place where my old house used to be. Tears fill my eyes, as I walk on the path that leads through that ¾ of an acre park. I sit on one of the green benches and look at the faces of the people playing in the park. Where my bedroom used to be, there is child smiling as he climbs the jungle gym with his friend, and his parents sit on a bench talking. Where our outdoor pool used to be, a child and his father are playing basketball with a ball that they brought from home. I think about how lucky they are to have a park like this in their neighborhood, one where there is a different section for each age group to enjoy. I also think about how lucky I am to be able to come back to the place I grew up for most of my life, instead of coming back and seeing another family living in my house. As I continue walking along the path, I pass by the tree I climbed on as a child, the one with the branches that hung like a chair. I pass the green bushes around which I buried my pets that passed away. I pass the big rock hidden behind the tree; this rock used to be my favorite hiding spot during hide and seek. I sit on this rock, and admire the park that I am still able to call my home.
When I Look Into Your Eyes • Abbie Lowenstein When I look into your eyes, I see what I want to be, Your soft countenance, and your loving gaze on me. You see the good in all people, even those who I think are bad, You teach me how to guard myself from them and give my heart a protective pad. For every moment that I am with you, I can feel a growing ease to my worries, and a wave of happiness that is long overdue.
When you wave goodbye, with you goes a piece of me I try to believe everything will be okay, like you tell me continuously. And until we meet again at a later date, uncertainty will be sitting heavily upon my shoulders like a daunting weight. The way you can conduct yourself in situations unfamiliar to you, Makes me realize why over the years I have developed such an unfamiliar love for you.
Barbie • Nachi Bloomberg Maybe there’s a good reason feminists hate Barbie. Since the 50’s , there’s been Actress Barbie, Singer Barbie, and secretary Barbie. Now that we’re in the new millennium, of course there’s gotta be Astronaut Barbie, Racecar Barbie, and now they even have Burkha Barbie. O. K. Barbie’s gone P.C. but Matell Toy Industry is still missing the point. Behind all the careers, outfits, and accessories Babrie is a doll with a figure no woman can possibly achieve. Whether it’s a Barbie, a GI Joe, or even your Furbie; children tend to look up to their toys. Kids find role models in whatever they are exposed to and will begin to identify with what they play with. A girl kicking a soccer ball imagines she’s Mia Hamm. A boy playing with Hotwheels pretends he’s driving in the Indy 500. Playtime is all about imagination. But what are little girls imagining when they pick up Barbie? From imagination comes idealization. Therefore, young girls will idealize Barbie’s unattainable figures. A study was conducted by a large group of New York dietitians, who specialize in eating disorders, to determine Barbie’s proportions at life-size. Listen to this. According to the World Health Organization, normal weight for a female is considered to be a Body Mass Index of 18.5 to 25. Anything less than 18 would be considered dangerously thin. The Dietitians determined that a Barbie, even a Dietitian Barbie, would be 5’9, have an 18’’ waist a 39’’ bust. Barbie’s body mass index would be about 16.24. These proportions would land Barbie in an anorexic camp and maybe even her grave. You know they’re not manufacturing and packaging Anorexic Barbie but they might as well be. Right now, 90 percent of girls ages 3-10 own at least one Barbie. Right now 90 percent of girls’ ages 3-10 are setting the stage for poor self-image, low self-esteem, and potential eating disorders. Are they playing or are they emotionally destroying themselves. Yet Barbie is the toy young girls entering an awkward stage in their growth and development have adored for the last 60 years. I can’t imagine girls would stop playing with Barbie if she looked like she belonged in Good Housekeeping instead of Cosmo ,so maybe Mattel should make a real-life Barbie look like a real-life doctor, astronaut, or secretary. They can call it in-touch-with-reality-Barbie. Thank You.
Barbie Dolls • Emma Bellows In a generation where stereotyping appearance is a hypersensitive topic the Barbie doll has caused much speculation. She has become the scapegoat for everything that is wrong with this generation. All the plastic surgery, the eating disorders, the bullying-- it is all her fault. When people are having troubles and insecurities they go on a desperate journey, searching for something or someone to blame. Often times, this journey links people to their childhood. So, the resentment many people feel about the Barbie nowadays is seemingly logical. However, this quick assumption made many people lose sight of what a Barbie doll really is and what they truly 9
stand for. They are not everything that is wrong with this generation; in fact, Barbie dolls are everything that is right with this generation. Picture your eight-year-old self. You’re in your bedroom clutching your new Barbie doll tightly in your hand. You gaze at her intently for a few moments debating what should happen to Barbie today. Who is Barbie today? Is she a doctor or is she an astronaut? Is she going to the park or is she spending the day in the dream house? Truthfully, it doesn’t matter what you choose because at the end of the day Barbie did whatever you wanted her to do and she was happy doing it. Barbie teaches young girls that it’s all up to them. They should do whatever makes them happy. They have the right to every single opportunity that may come their way. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Blonde Barbie, the Black Barbie, or the Latino Barbie, if she wants to become a world famous fashion designer, she will. As long as she works for it, the dream house is hers. Developmental psychologist Sutton Smith said, “particular toys enter into the lives of some children and become as it were central to their identity.” Meaning, the toys you buy your children will impact their personality and ideals as an adult. So, when researchers show that in 2009 there were approximately 47.8 million more working women than there were in 1950 how could you not hope that you buy the toy that ensures your daughter becomes successful? Well, approximately every three seconds a Barbie doll is being bought. A doll that is practically screaming through the box “women can work, women can be successful!” And yes, you can try and argue that by asking, “If Barbie is so successful on her own, then why bring in the Ken doll?” Well, acknowledge that Ken is sold separately. Barbie exists and Barbie succeeds without him. However, just as you hope your daughter does, Barbie values family. She works hard for herself, but she still gets married, starts a family, and cares for her sister. Isn’t that the epitome of the ever-changing “American dream?” Isn’t that what every parent wants there daughter to be? Go back to the memory of your eight-year-old self. Your mother just called from downstairs telling you it’s time to go to sleep. Quickly, you clean up your toys and rush under the covers. You close your eyes reflecting on the fun you just had. Barbie just won her campaign for president. She’s the first female president and the whole country is ecstatic. The satisfaction you made Barbie feel sticks with you for next few weeks. You tell your best friend that you want to run for president one day. Fast forward a few years and you graduate college majoring in political science. Fast forward a few more years, and you have just won your campaign for state office. Your parents have never been more proud. You credit them for taking you to Washington DC one summer in high school. However, modern phycology would oppose. Modern psychcology would commend your parents for buying you President Barbie. That is what really sparked your interest in politics. Had it been veterinarian Barbie, or nurse Barbie, or any other Barbie it really would not have made a difference. Your parents would be proud of you regardless. Why? Because Barbie is only sold as a persona that you would want your daughter to become. Barbie is everything this generation should become. Barbie is the increasing trend of working mothers. Barbie is the increasing number of female college graduates. Barbie is a better future. Barbie is our future. 10
Books and People • Seth Wasserman Sometimes books come in paperback; sometimes they come in hardcover. What happens when words can’t make up their minds? They don’t know how they want people to see them. They can be paperback and cheap; they can be hardcover, expensive and extravagant. Do we judge the people who buy the paperbacks differently than the people who buy the hardcovers? Of course the people who are buying the hardcover books are well off. They are rich. Spitting money out as if they were a baseball player chewing tobacco. What if they were hiding something? They could be covering the truth. Putting a mask over their identity. We don’t know who these people are on the inside. Do we judge this book by its cover? I am here waiting. Hours pass but still no sight of her. It is my duty to stay here. My duty to protect her. My duty to love her. No matter what the circumstance may be, I will be here. I have to. The clock in the room ticks. Hour after hour. Minute after minute. Second after second. It takes less than a second for a thought to process in the mind. The mind may alter the external body, just like the book may change its cover. Looking through this clock, I can finally see her. She is alone. Physically, no one is in her proximity. Emotionally, no one bothers to be with her, or even enter her realm. Physical loneliness is one thing, but solitary confinement of the mind is too hard to handle. She sits on her bed. Covers fall off the edge, only to be picked up again after her date goes bad and she needs a place of solitude. Her whole life is solitude. The covers add an extra layer of protection from the outside world. She doesn’t cry because she is alone: She cries because she can no longer mask the truth. The bed that was once close to the door was now pushed against the wall on the opposite side of the room. Afraid of the outside world. Even a locked door can’t protect her. Used make up is on the dresser. The makeup never was closed—giving her easy access to use it tomorrow. The clock ticks away and at the blink of an eye, a new hour has began. 11:00 pm, and she just got home. Why does it take her so long? The responsibility of watching her has taken its toll on me. Maybe she was on a date with a new man. Too bad no guy will ever find out who she is beneath the makeup. Beyond the proximity of her room she is someone else. When she gets home, ever her mirror can’t recognize her. One does not simply always look beautiful. No one is always beautiful because if everyone were constantly beautiful then everyone wouldn’t need makeup or beauty products. On the contrary, she is beautiful all of the time…she never takes off her makeup. Beautiful until her door shuts, and only I can see her. After a while, the meaning of real and fake beauty get confused. Where does the beauty come from: the inner beauty or the outer beauty, the book or the cover? I’ve never seen her work, or even look for work. Looking in the want ads, try looking at magazines. Magazines of beautiful women she wishes to be like. She can’t accept her own body. She doesn’t believe everyone is beautiful. If she did, then she wouldn’t be the one looking at girls 11
in magazines. She longs to be like them. She thinks maybe more makeup will do the trick, but I know no amount of makeup will ever be able to change who she is. She spends a lot of time in a place I never go, the closet. All I know is that when she moved in, we put the bookshelf there. Every so often when I enter her room, I find a book on the floor. Every book I find is covered with a layer of tears. Sadness is the only emotion she shows. She walks into the closet most likely to pick a book up from the shelf. The books are thin and small. She reads children’s books, not novels. She reads her children’s books. The only thing left of them before they were ripped away from her life. Maybe changing her external appearance will help her forget the past. Why would she want to remember who she was? I don’t know how she puts a brave face on every morning. I don’t know how she is able to face the reality her life has become. The truth is, the only time she can put on a brave face is when she changes her face with beauty products. If she can look different in her own eyes, maybe people will view her as she views herself—beautiful. Beautiful until she comes home, and I can see through the makeup. I can see through the lies. I may be the only one, but I can see under the mask. If she keeps the mask on for too long, she will forget who she is under it. At least she has me to remember who she really is. I may be the only one, but I can see under the mask.
Momentum • Revital Chavel house hands on hips and in the air, And flip my heads from side to side in my sister’s face. After the best dance classes I perform for the showerhead Even though my muscles hurt and I can’t ever sing. The best dances classes are the ones when we were worked hard But didn’t care. Because in the best dances classes exists a momentum That enables us to dance forever.
After the best dance classes we leave with wet hair, And it’s not even raining outside. After the best dance classes sweat fogs up the car-ride home And we can barely see through the misty windows. After the best dance classes we turn the cold air up all the way, On an icy winter morning. After the best dance classes we shake the car, Bouncing to Daddy’s old music. After the best dance classes I strut into the
Remorse • Audrey Fretzin I am staring at the scoreboard. The screen is flashing Audrey Fretzin: 9.025, and the motion is giving me a headache. I can’t believe that after all the work I put into this routine, after I gave it my all, it wasn’t enough. Years of training came down to this moment--I was going to win a State 12
competition for the third time in my life. And I came so close. My coach, Tammy, calls my name, but I don’t look her way. I stare disbelievingly at the screen until my name melts away and the next girl’s score flashes on the screen. I tear my eyes away. I woke up this morning thinking, today is my state competition. I can’t make any mistakes. People at gymnastics always tease me because I am the perfect age for a gymnast striving to attend the Olympics of 2012. Because I would have just turned 16, I would have a chance at two Olympics before I would have to stop. But I know I could never achieve that level. I know that there are a lot of girls with much more talent than I have. And I also know that today is my last competition. My Dad drove my sister and me to my meet (competition) and my grandfather met us there. It was the day before Pesach started, so my mom and other siblings could not make it. We left two hours before my meet was supposed to start because it was a little over an hour away and I was really nervous. Between the cold spring air and my nerves, my teeth were chattering nonstop as we entered the gym where I would be competing. As always, the meet was running behind, so after we parked and signed in, we had an hour to spare, and I got to watch my friends compete in their last event. I am the oldest on my team, so the cut off separates me from all my friends, and I competed in the session after them. After my friends finished competing, they went to their awards ceremony, my coach went to her meeting, and I began my solo warmup. I found out the order of apparatuses I would be competing on, and then I went to my first event, which was vault. Vault went quickly, as usual, and it was the perfect event to get my nerves out, since I got two tries to do the same vault. On every other event, I had one shot. I presented to the judges and then competed my two best vaults of the season. Pleased with my score, I went to my next event, bars. After competing my bars, I was disappointed. I didn’t stick my landing or reach the handstand required to get a full start value. But my score surprised me, and I knew that I just needed to do well on my next two events, balance beam and floor. But I have always gotten the most nervous for the balance beam. Walking on a long two inch piece of wood is hard enough, but flipping over it is so unpredictable. It is hit or miss. I was one of the last to compete and I was shaking as I waited. I always try and remember to concentrate and have fun, but that does not prevent the butterflies in my stomach, and my palms from sweating. When the girl before me landed her dismount, I jumped a few times to get the motion back in my legs and then I went and stood next to the beam waiting for the judges sign telling me to present and go. Oddly enough, once I started my routine, I did not perform with confidence exactly, but I did not have my usual shakiness. I breathed a sigh of relief with my dismount with the realization that I had one event to go and it was my best. After getting my balance beam score, Tammy and I walked over to the floor exercise where I 13
had my timed warmups and handed a man my music. I knew the routine backwards and forwards and was excited to perform on my final event. The music started and I began with my early tumbling pass. I did my leaps, jumps, and turns, and all I had left was a dive roll to the corner and my final tumbling pass. But my dive roll left me exhausted and I didn’t put enough energy into my last pass. I under rotated and almost fell to the ground. I put everything I had into my last ten seconds, but I wasn’t sure how much my mistake had cost me. When I walked off the floor, Tammy hugged me and told me that the rest of my routine had been amazing, so it was all up to the judges. I waited and waited for my score because there were three judges and they averaged their scores together and entered them into the computer. When my score finally appeared on the screen, I could not believe it. This was it. I messed up on a move that I had stuck perfectly hundreds of times. I wanted this win to complete a chapter of my life. I wanted to be able to look back at this moment with pride. But now, gymnastics is over for me. And even though I performed well, I know that I could have had that gold medal. I wanted that gold medal.
Where I’m From • Ben Kaplan Torah, believe in Hashem as the only G-d, and do chesed. I am from Chicago, Europeans, and survivors of the Holocaust, from gefilte fish and matzoh ball soup. I am from the bicycle that my zaidy rode to the Lodz ghetto to save my bubby, the University of Illinois, where my paternal grandparents met and where my parents met, and the other bicycle: the one that was ridden by a half-naked lady, distracting the Nazi soldiers and allowing my zaidy to escape.
I am from books, from Artscroll and Webster. I am from the warm, comforting, clean, and bright family room, with the gentle and soothing sound of the bubbling aquarium. I am from the pine tree, the burning bushes that turn a deep red in the fall. I am from the special Friday night Shabbos dinners for birthdays and the last minute procrastinating and indecisive vacation planners, from Kaplan and Fagan and Ed and Tammy. I am from the caring and open. From “Be efficient,” and “say please and thank you.”
I am from the cabinet in my library, where pictures that bring back memories from my childhood, my parents’ youth, and even one from my maternal bubby as a child, can be found.
I am from Orthodox Jewry. I pray, wear Tzitzit, Tefillin, a kippah, learn
Final Goodbye • Sophie Gordon Dear Uncle Joe, You were stolen from us so quickly. I don’t know of one being that is able to blink as fast as you left. You packed your metaphorical bags, with plenty of food and clothes that would last you for eternity. We miss you. When will you be visiting? A month? Two months? Ever? Can I at least believe that I will see you in my dreams? I know we cannot reverse the past. What was done can never be changed. Everything happens for a reason (or that is what it seems to be). I’m convinced that you are watching and smiling down at all of us from heaven. Sometimes I even feel your presence beside me, guiding me through the “ups and downs” of life. At least now that you’re gone I know that there are truly angels up in heaven.
Temptations • Shira Ben-David I sit there with my eyes fixed on the teacher’s dark wooden desk. I can make out her distinct cursive writing on the sheet that lies on top of the desk. The cursive writing mocks me with its perfection and its easiness. Its back and forth motion teases my intellect and leaves me at odds. Just a quick glance. Would it hurt anyone? Would anything change? I know the answers to all of these questions. I know that if I look I would be a cheater. But I also know that it would be the beginning of all of my success. There’s so much good waiting for me, and not enough bad to stop me. She is gone, and will be for a while now. No one would ever know.
The Meaning of Irreverance • Tali Pelts I received a letter from the Writers’ Seminar Board the other day asking for a statement on “The Meaning of Irreverence.” It presumably is my duty to comply with such a request, and it is certainly my pleasure. Certainly Ms. Goldstein knows what irreverence is. It is the scorner laughing as soon as the teacher turns around. It is the patient challenging the doctor. It is the “I” in “I’ll be where I want to be” when told to go to Mincha. It is the quick whisper immediately after being told to hush. Irreverence is the chocolate-chip cookie stolen from the jar. It is the belief that we are right; there is no field that we are not experts in. Irreverence is the statement rather than the question. It is all words: first, last, and middle. It is the increase in decibels. It is the puny conquering the vast.
No, it is the puny’s desperate attempt to overtake the vast. Really, irreverence is a veil. Irreverence is the most elaborate mask at the masquerade, a facade. Irreverence is an egg, just a final push away from its unearthing. Irreverence is a request from the Seminar Board, in the wee hours of morning through half-closed eyes, wanting to know what irreverence is.
Sunshine of My First Nephew • Anna Shkolnikov I stroll slowly after him as he runs around the park on his stubby little feet, exploring every crevice of the playground. The park is just a minute’s walk away from my brother's tiny, neat apartment complex. The trees are tall and their leaves pop green. The grass is freshly watered and thriving with life. The sky is bright-blue, not a cloud present to disrupt its beauty. I am tired, but full of joy to be here. I am the luckiest 15-year-old the world has ever met. My curly hair is clipped back casually and my plain, black shirt and long jean skirt stick comfortably to me as I bend around the colorful pipes on the playground. My parents are in Chicago, thousands of miles away from sunny California, wishing they were here with me. I snap as many mental pictures of his tiny hands and bouncy, blond curls as I can, sure that my parents will be grateful to hear such memories. With his sunny little smile meeting mine and his dainty voice calling my name, I follow him on. I am so thankful to be here.
Happiness. Felicity, delight, glee, joy. So many words for one emotion. That soaring feeling of exhilaration, like a dolphin leaping high into the air from its watery habitat. It is the intangible that every person seeks in life.
Ever After • Haia Bchiri Take me back to the land of Once Upon a Time To the kingdom where everything had a reason and a rhyme
With princes and villains we didn’t feel so small But bedtime always came far too soon Take me back to the land of Once Upon a Time To the kingdom where everything has a reason and a rhyme
Remember the old days in Neverland? Pirates, pixies, and the Lost Boys We’d battle Hook and take off from the sand We’d fly through the world of simple joys
Stay away from that old looking glass Inside there’s a grown up to see For midnight does come and the years do pass They’ve made adults out of you and me
Take me back to the land of Once Upon a Time To the kingdom where everything had a reason and a rhyme
Take me back to the land of Once Upon a Time To the kingdom where everything has a reason and a rhyme
We’d follow Cinderella to the grand ball Live in happily ever after for an afternoon
Hold Tight • Ilan Kaissar Dear Mr. Coben: I was sitting in math class. It was the first day of third grade, and it also happened to be my first day at a new school in a new state. My teacher, who taught us multiple subjects, not just math, was writing long chains of numbers on the board and asking a student in the class to read them to her. With each number that went up on the board, a lone hand went up into the air. The hand was always mine, and my answer was always correct. I sat there on that first day of school feeling like the king of the class, which was an especially great feeling because of the fact that I was the “new kid” in school. For the rest of the day, I sat in class and tuned out the teacher, making it clear that I already knew everything she was teaching. For me, the numbers were all laid out with a clear structure. The entire subject was logical and ordered. That is why math has always been a subject of mastery for me and a subject that I have enjoyed. Math makes my entire life logical and predictable. In your piece of literature, the characters’ lives are the exact opposite of logical. The characters are constantly piecing parts of their lives together with hopes of making sense of their lives. When I read your story, I had to think about the events of the story and attempt to connect them all. Throughout every sleepless night I spent reading your story, Hold Tight, I escaped my life of consistent order and logic and had the opportunity to be tested. Your book captivated me 18
because of that opportunity that it gave me. What was surprising to me about your book was how I could make sense of the book at the end, even though the events are not linear. I enjoyed your book specifically because when I was reading it, I could not imagine any of the events. I thought about each scene and all I saw was a big white cloud. I was forced to continue reading for hours and hours until the events made sense, and while I was reading the book, the events never did make sense to me. Finally, as I read the last word of the book, every event and aspect of the book came together. The entire white cloud turned into a big picture that made complete sense. I loved that the book was unclear until the very last page when the story became logical and sensible, and that is why I enjoyed reading your piece of literature. Math class is important—I’m comfortable there, I’m the king there, I understand. I get A’s. Doing well there will get me somewhere in life, I know. But your book transported me somewhere I’m never likely to go. Sincerely, Ilan Kaissar
Graduation • Shira Ben-David Balancing expectations of myself and the expectations of others, I cautiously make my way down the long wooden stage to the podium Keeping my head up and hoping not to fall I am wearing high heels and wobbling around uneasily I finally arrive at the tall wooden podium with a small black microphone coming out of it Intimidated by the large crowd filled with parents, teachers, and relatives All there to see their children graduate from middle school I am wearing a white gown and a matching white graduation cap Although I am dressed like every one of my classmates I am aware of all the eyes on me My feelings range from fear and anxiety to excitement As I look up from behind the pages of my speech I am able to make out my parents’ smiling faces behind their cameras I can feel their support and sense their happiness from across the room Once the last words leave my mouth, the feeling of relief fills my body I am done, I have not messed up, and my obligation has ended. Walking back to my seat, I realize that the milestone of middle school has finally passed. Now, the house is filled with pictures from that joyous event with my silly hat and my bright smile.
Untitled • Batsheva Stadlan This essay describes a favorite photo, a moment in time I am in a bedroom, sitting in a rocking chair. I am wearing a light pink outfit with a matching hat. My nursery is painted with light blue and white paint. The rocking chair I am sitting on is blue with multi-colored swirls. Smiling widely and cracking up, my mom was able to capture this moment. Before this moment in time was captured, my mom was getting me ready to go to Sarah Quintas’s simchat bat. She wanted to put me in a new outfit for this special occasion. Right when she put it on me, I started to laugh hysterically. I was only two months old, and my mom did not expect so much laughing to come out of her baby. My mom’s mood changed from normal to joyful. She decided to capture this moment. After she did this, we proceeded to the party. Looking back at that moment, I probably loved it because I got all the attention from my parents. However, I also wonder where my sister was at that time. My sister and I bonded a lot when we were younger because it was only the two of us for a while. We still have that special bond. I do not really remember anything about that time. I was only two months old. But I am still that smiley little girl who loves that this photo makes her mother so happy. This is who I am today: Despite everything and everyone who came afterward, I am still someone who loves to raise the spirits of others.
The P’santer • Sarah Otis She is happy. To her left is the living room, full of light from the channukiah flames and decorated with beautiful, abstract art and flower paintings. She sits at a beautiful, Sefardi dining room table for Shabbat dinner with the Yitzhaks and another guest. She is content: She smiles at the taste of the Moroccan food and chicken and she laughs sincerely at all of R’ Yitzhak’s and the other guest’s jokes. Her eyes brighten at the sight of Aharon Gavriel, the youngest Yitzhak member of the family. Are her cheeks not sore from grinning often at him, too? She relishes in the energy of her surroundings. She tames her curiosity by seeing Mrs. Yitzhak outside of the school setting; the woman is so hospitable and inspiring. She loves sitting at a table with everyone dressed up neat and tzniut for Shabbat. She sees two of the boys clinging to their father for zmirot. She sees poised Nava help Mrs. Yitzhak in the kitchen. The four children are so sweet and pure. She feels immense joy and inspiration hugging her soul, like that which NCSY brings her. She is insightful, all the while. She sees how her hosting children react to her, and she acts accordingly. All the while, I am aware. She leaves her comfortable, leather chair at the dinner table to play with Aharon Gavriel as he walks into the room. She reads him a short story out of a stapled storybook that one of the other 20
Yitzhak children wrote. When he starts to wobble away, she calls his name in the sweet tone he understands. He wobbles back. She begins to lift him way up high by his sides—his favorite Sarah activity—and, in his soothing voice, R’ Yitzhak asks her about when she played piano. Mainly because Aharon Gavriel is charming her with his lovable demeanor, she is startled by the question at first. Without more hesitation she answers that she began lessons in first grade and continued with them through seventh grade, composing throughout those years and after. She is not thinking thoroughly, though, only responding politely. Before she has time to process the question, Mrs. Yitzhak asks him how he knew that Sarah plays piano. The other guest chimes in with her humorous character and asks, too. My girl then realizes. There had been no singing on her part, earlier, nor was there talk about music. How did R’ Yitzhak know? His response is, “I don’t know, I just had a vision of you playing piano.” Her face drops for split seconds before she responds with a joke about him using Kabbalic sources to figure out this random fact. She thinks that all his studying may actually have an effect on his intuitive knowledge; she mentions nothing of it, for the room is full of laughter, and she likes it that way. This incident is not the first of instinct between the two. When R’ Yitzhak substituted for Mrs. Yitzhak on October tenth—right before she went on maternity leave for a month—he noticed some of my polite girl’s deepest character traits, which he would later explain to Mrs. Yitzhak and Sarah. He just knew the first time she met him. He had to have known this, too. When he laughs at the joke, others do too. She thinks he understands more than they, though. She is insightful, knowing so well of his perceptiveness. He is insightful, catching glimpses of her life. But I am aware. I am her memory. I am Sarah Otis’s secretary, the little invisible being hiding behind the oil Hannukah flames. I am her friend for future years, and I will share with her all her secrets then. Right now, she is happy. Let her be, I will hide for now. I am aware.
A Natural Rush • Avi Asher Hear nature’s song The song that’s being rushed to An endless journey
Sensitivity and Fear. Seen as cowardly, these qualities are scorned. Yet they lurk in the minds of every one of us. They are the survival instinct that tells us when to turn tail and run, like a gazelle. They 23 may be dark; they are certainly not glorified. But they are universal. Anyone who tells you that he does not have them is a fool or a liar.
Run • Barry Rosenblum We kids here in America sit in the halls Our friends in Israel anxiously wait for the next bomb to fall We hear the bell ring They hear a violent siren sing The song is called “Run” It harmonizes “Get to the shelter before you are done” We are late to class They are sitting in fright, anticipating the sound of broken glass We eat at our tables with family surrounding They rush or do not even get to finish their meals due to sirens sounding We go do our homework or go to basketball practice They are running for their lives, with their emotions helpless and frantic We make our way home and take a hot shower They sit and they pray, with hopes of being alive within the next hour We crawl in our beds and fall into a peaceful slumber They lay awake counting so many dropped bombs, that they lose track of the number We awake from our sleep They are still clenching their teeth It has only been days, but it feels like weeks So both of us are praying for the enemy to run towards peace For our little country in the Middle East
Balancing Myself • Ariel Perritt Balancing myself, hands spread wide Feet in perfect angles On a wide field in the middle of the day In the background, my teammates cheer from the sidelines I am motivated and aggressive, fifteen years old 24
Aware of my opponents I am challenged by my teammates I am challenging the rules In my short black soccer shorts And my jersey tucked in tight at the waist Waiting for the right moment to prove myself What was I thinking when I kicked the ball into the large white net in front of me? My father was on the sidelines watching my game, preparing my mistakes for afterward. My mother is out with my sister. Running to the grocery store and buying extra protein bars. Later, I emerge through the door as a sweet smell of freshly baked bread surrounds me. I quickly run up the stairs and drop my books across my bed I feel my muscles, over worked and exhausted I use all the energy that is left in me to make my way downstairs “You played great today,” my father exclaimed “Thanks. It felt good,” I answered
Down at the Ravine • Sarah Otis They were set to motion in the cracks They, behold, of ground and cement No other creatures, only life No drought-like features, only wet Wherever is that world Those lives are lived for below They humans be known No critter bearing ears No creature hears Above the human They are bypassed on the bridge They are disregarded No person cared for by the urban edge No person but the hidden human searches Down at the ravine
Down at the ravine Nobody is seen No cars are noticed by their lights They are not seen They are heard on the bridge Above the water stream No house on stilts photographed No lilac or bush aroma They are not smelled They are stuck up above Wherever is the ravine No urban sight, only sound No distant lights, only ground That is blanketed in leaves Through which grow the trees Down where the bugs are
For Now Here • Machol Benmelech Balancing on my knees and elbows, my body here, my mind far away I am on the floor of a new room, in a new home with a white carpet and half empty boxes.
in the background are newly painted walls with the few pictures I managed to locate in the chaos. I am young, I am old, 25
in numbers I am fifteen. I am challenging the fear of my memories fading with the bracelets up my arms, and a sweatshirt that lists beloved names, big on my 4’11 frame. I am thinking of how I stepped out of one life into another, and how the grass is always, always greener anywhere but where you are.
My parents are downstairs, beyond the stair case I loved so much in pictures. My mother is packing a lunch, for the first day at my new school. My father is hunched over the cable box, Trying to get the Internet up, so That I’ll be able to speak to friends I didn’t think I’d miss, when I packed boxes for the moving truck.
Babysitting • Emma Bellows I am in the kitchen of my cousin’s house, My body rubbing the edge of the counter, Reaching to answer the ringing phone, I am in a hurry because I had just put my cousins to sleep— And I didn’t want them to wake up. I reach my arm across a pile of papers, To grab the phone. But something catches my eye— I am aware. There was a cluster of half-empty translucent orange pill cases, A dozen or so, All different sizes with different instructions: “Take two before dinner,” “Once in the morning,” And the hardest to process, “Once after treatment”. I stood there for a while, Lump in throat, pit in stomach, Static and silent. The flashbacks rush in a like a waterfall— Quickly and heavily. I heard the hushed phone calls and muffled 26
cries. I saw the outline of the catheter— That was put in my aunt’s arm so she can get to and from her treatments quickly— Through her wool sweater. As I picked up each individual pill case and listened to the jumble of the pills shifting, I saw the personal struggle, The family side. What my cousins must feel when they see the bags under her eyes, Or her pale skin, Or her frail body. The confusion of the community when they realize she has not been in shul for weeks, Or to school functions, Or the local supermarket. I stepped into reality, The place where the city isn’t always saved, The boy doesn’t always get the girl, And the hero doesn’t always live. Where I have distress, not confidence in finding an answer to the question— Why do bad things happen to good people?
It’s where I began a dreadful quest for the answer. I was running a marathon in the desert, Intentionally. I was drowning in fear, Suffocated by doubt, And smothered in possibility that one day the phone won’t ring long enough for me to answer,
That I’ll just stare at the screen blinking the words “missed call,” Over and Over again. But that can’t happen to me, I know better than to get tangled up in the telephone cord, Because I am aware.
Steady Student • Cheely Birn In the library, I balance my school work and free time while I sit on an old-fashioned pullout chair. Books are waiting for me to open them on the new wooden tables. Knowledge is surrounding me, along with the voices from other students who talk about whether or not to go to Jewish History. I think for a second, I put my thumb in my mouth to turn the page of my math book and I suddenly taste the salty texture of my thumb. Besides this salty sensation, I also have a dry mouth mostly because I had no time to walk downstairs to my favorite water-fountain to fill up my water bottle. I felt the pain and agony. I felt the pressure and hard work that it would take for me to complete all my work for the next day, only to get more next class and on the next day. I felt sympathetic for those Jews in Egypt who had to carry around stones on their backs, because I had my own theoretical stone I had to push on my own back. I wished that I would be able to finish my homework without any other teacher thinking of giving me more homework. My hope ends and my wish dies because I suddenly hear the bell ring for the next class. All of my work will have to be done at home where I usually relax and talk with my family, but now that time will be cut off because I have to do homework. I only end up in the library taking my first step to try to complete my homework. However, the only way I get through it is by concentrating and working hard even though it might seem impossible. Being in the library reflects that I need a place where I can focus and be determined to finish my homework even though it might take a couple of hours. The circumstances of doing homework are stressful, hurried, and forced and the only initial reason why I do my homework is because I am determined.
The Meaning of Stress • David Quintas In the style of “The Meaning of Democracy” by E.B. White We received an assignment from Ms. Goldstein the other day asking for a statement on something intangible. After a brief period of deliberation, a decision was reached. A choice was made to not write about a lofty, transcendent quintessence of being — such as love, joy, or community — but a force every bit as relevant. A decision was made to write about “The Meaning of Stress.” 27
Surely, Ms. Goldstein knows what stress is. It is the rubber band, stretched to the limits of its chalky elasticity. It is the leg muscle, taut with tension, walking one mile further. It is curt tones where warm replies should be. Stress is often its own justification: making commitments to more obligations than are possible to meet, in order to excuse one’s self from meeting them. Sometimes stress is the angst of knowing the outcome before the action. It is the insidious anxiety before a test, the immobilizing indecision at a crossroads, the sinking disappointment after a lull has not arrived. Stress is shaking, even though the room is not cold. It is the deadline in bold on a calendar. It is the inbox of unread emails reaching triple digits. It is the hope that a lukewarm cappuccino in the morning will brighten the shadows of stolen sleep from the night before. Stress is finishing a paper on “The Meaning of Stress” at a quarter to one on a Thursday night with eight more tasks to complete, recognizing that there is something humorous and telling about the situation, but not quite having the time to appreciate the irony.
The White Walls Exhibit • Anat Berday-Sacks I am surrounded by screaming women, dead bodies, and tidal waves. I am open-minded Stark white walls guarding me. The exhibition of eye blinks, Each open mouth, blood. Battered shirt. Walls present each decrepit world. So many worlds falling apart Falling together, crashing together. Butting heads against my white walls. Left. the waves streak my eyes: A dead fish, a dog collar, a white picket fence. Right. the tear gas. The tear gas shards of glass. Beer caps. Burning smoke. Left. a baby with broken eyes: Black veils, white eyes. Icy hands sleeping on goat skins. My mother stands ahead – my father stands behind. Each nodding at the white walls. 28
Rouged lips, readjusted glasses. A nose blown, a shoelace retied. A war tramps forward, buildings fall back. In between the fire and snow My mother. The coffee’s steam clouds her glasses. My father. Blinking eyelids, scenes he’s seen before. I stand in white walls. How the thin air can strike a match against my cheek and leave smoke. Not hearing the wind drops to my side and tickles my sweat. Not tasting An empty pot beside a stiff, starched flag. Not knowing, How the white walls can only encroach. The worlds eat up the white walls, Leaving the bullets no place to hide Leaving my parents talking quietly. The pistols point straight ahead.
The elephant laughs in our face The mourners’ chant turns our way. The smell of the dust, the scent of wheat.
My parent’s turn: “Are you ready to leave?”
A Picture of Me • Seth Wasserman Balancing my life-long friends from public school with my friends from ICJA. Guitar in hand and guitar pick in-between my two front teeth. I am in my basement. In the background art from 1st grade is hanging on the wall, Juxtaposed with my art from 8th grade. I am 15. Optimistic, joyful, funny, dedicated, hardworking, and musical, Challenging my peers. Who says I can’t make time for everything? Tzitzis, kippa, shorts, shirt Socks but no shoes How can I make a change? Parents are upstairs and my brother is in his room. A house filled with family, I still feel alone. My friends will come over. Through the concrete walls, music is heard Doors close, but the sound will surpass them.
Searching • Kama Neren We capitalize the first letter of His name We claim that He created this world These seven seas, these beauties and wonders of the Earth He breathed the dirt of the Earth into the wonders of the world We turn to Him whenever we are faced with a struggle Yet we consider His religion a burden at times At times, we even try to hide, like He does Even though He is intangible, we seek His reality 29
Why do we drop Him out of frustration and become oblivious? Is it because we struggle? Yet we will crawl back to Him Do we want to strengthen our faith? What has He done to get closer to us? Why are we the ones crawling back towards Him? We are not sensitive, not aware, nor appreciative We are taught to connect through a book With Hebrew symbols, letters and words
Do we even know what we are reading? Or Whom we are talking to? It is fact that we each contain an imagination Which only we have power and control over Yet we all share the same idea this intangible figment of the imagination He creeps into our minds, then vanishes before we can catch a glimpse of His face
Rather, this connection has been strengthened through the soul We began to live where soul meets body A new outlook overtook the body which He created in His own image Awareness struck The soul entered the realm upon which He dwelled
He is always with and around us Yet He never reveals His identity Who is this Man with the key to our minds, to our souls? It is interesting to think that our connection to this Being Came not from the book of Hebrew symbols Not from the people around us or the teachers Who implement these assumptions of Him
Who is the one that provides me with life? Who is the Oz that runs this land? Why am I not able to thank You? Show me Your face My soul is hungry, aching for Your truth Feed my soul Reveal yourself So I can be satisfied Save me from starvation Save my soul
Second Breath • Noah Shaffer “Your son has not been himself lately,” the doctor told my wife. He was still in the womb. But I knew he heard the man speak. My son’s femur was supposed to be much bigger than it was at his current stage of development, and he had cysts in his brain. He was an almost surefire prospect for down-syndrome. It was on this day that I discovered my heart had not been killed by the Nazis. It was also on this day — in the maternity ward at St. George’s Hospital in Tooting, England — that I decided to take up art. I knew exactly how I wanted my art to look; I knew exactly the feeling I wanted my art to emit. I admit, I was wholly wrong. Oliver was special, and this speciality far transcended his status as representative of one of our society’s favorite euphemisms. He knew exactly what he wanted, always. He knew exactly whom he liked, and he was most certainly aware of those he disliked. He preferred to call them “Abhorrent.” Or, as he would say, “You bloody Abhorrent,” twisting the two nasty adjectives into a single, nastier pronoun. I’m still searching for the one who taught him to say “Bloody.” They say emotions are difficult to decipher on the faces of those with Down’s Syndrome. I believe that the emotions of one with Down’s Syndrome are easier to read than those which we “normal” humans portray. We lie, plain and simple, and this boy could not. It is the honest, 30
incredible transparency that is the indication of one with Down’s Syndrome. What amazed me the most was Oliver’s usage of words that he deemed as meaningful. “I’m sorry,” “I love you,” “Please,” — although not “Thank you” — and, somewhat comically, “Yes,” were the most infrequently used words in Oliver’s articulation of the English language. The more Oliver grew, the more I came to love him, and the more I came to realize that he was the model for whom I wanted to become. He was truly free. He had received the breath of freedom from God at the beginning. It was his First Breath, and all I wanted was my Second. I wanted my Second Breath; I wanted to be set free from the deception of current society. I wanted to join Oliver in the realm of whom I began to call the “Breathed.” It was when I came up with this name that I realized — in all of the fourteen years since I had decided to take up art, my works numbered none. I decided that my name for those affected by Down’s Syndrome would be my first work. I called it the Maurice Onomasty, trying to sound fancy. ————————————————— I found myself standing over Oliver as he lay in a hospital bed, and not liking it one bit. For it was in that moment that I had a notion — it was fleeting, mind you — that I was greater than my son. Embarrassed of my abhorrently, stereotypically human idea, I felt my face get red in front of God-knows-who, and realized how tired I was. “I’ve missed you, Sleep,” I said; I gave forth an empty chuckle at how cliché I sounded. I’ll never forget the fear of God injected into my being when I awoke. A multitude of alarms were simultaneously going off, combining into a frantic soundtrack for the thrashing of Oliver in his white hospital bed. Shouts of “Oh, God,” and “God, help us,” sounded in the sterile hospital room. My Siddur fell to the ground in the corner of the room. I wondered what God had to do with any of this. And why are they all swearing? I caught myself when I heard the voice of myself at the age of twenty-one, staring past the gates of Auschwitz above me, straight into the heavens, doubting God in every way possible. I had left those days behind. I found God’s signature on my son. And now, as I saw my son, my pathway to God, in seizure, I called an immediate end to my abstinence from art. We finally managed to get my son’s seizure under control, and he fell asleep. I won’t lie and say that I knew exactly what I was going to create — that I was Divinely galvanized — the moment I had decided to partake in the action of creation; I sat dumbly for hours. However, I will say that what I decided upon was inspired. I decided upon the form of a man, with his arms back, and his chest pressed forward. I supposed this is what Oliver would have looked like had he not been affected by Down’s Syndrome. It progressed to the point where I got permission from the hospital staff to bring in my art supplies to Oliver’s room, where he slept. He slept, and I worked. And when he woke, I would momentarily 31
cease my incessant building and ask him how he liked it, and tell him I thought it could be him; he never seemed to agree with me. The doctors had been telling me for the past couple of weeks that Oliver would be dead within the month. Devastated, my heart crushed, I decided that I would finish my sculpture before my boy passed into the World to Come. He never got to see it. He was asleep when he died, and I will forever be wishing that I had woken him up one last time in order to reveal to him what I had created in his name. He did die, however, on the day — and even at the relative time — that I completed my sculpture. I slapped the last bit of clay onto my sculpture’s — Oliver’s — forehead, and I looked over towards the bed and realized that in my intensity, I had neglected to realize that Oliver’s monitors showed that he was dead. My screams of anguish were quieted by a sight. I swear I saw my son’s soul — missile-like — rocket through the ceiling.
Mexico • Emma Bellows I am sitting on a beach chair in Mexico. My hair is dripping because I was just in the ocean— Swimming with my siblings. I am wrapped in a towel— Too tight to move— Because I am trying to stop myself from shivering. It was the first day of our trip and I am optimistic about the next ten days— It had been a great day. I am sharing a chair with my brother Jordan, He is six years old. He is staring off into the distance— Distracted. I am sensitive.
He was lost in what seemed to be like a sea of merchants, Each with the same tired eyes and Hunched bodies. My father had bought water bottles from one— An elderly man wearing a tattered shirt— Earlier that day. I felt so special when they came over to our beach chairs— Persuading us to buy their Bracelets, Fruits, Or drinks. It made me feel like they really valued my purchase. Finally, I find the boy. He is probably Jordan’s age— Wearing a shirt that was much too short, A faded bathing suit— And no shoes. He had a net bag on his back That was probably
“Look,” he said Pointing “That boy’s selling Frisbees, he probably doesn’t even have to go to school. That’s so cool!” I squint. The sun is shining in my eyes, As I scanned the beach for the little boy. 32
Double His size. I am sensitive.
more days on the beach, I stopped feeling special— When the merchants approached me. And began to just feel sorry. I realized they aren’t eager to sell, Just desperate to survive. For a moment I wished I could be like Jordan. I wouldn’t have to squint for the boy, I would just be gazing into the distance— Aimlessly. I would be protected, Just enjoying my last days at the beach, Instead of worrying about the well-being of the merchants— Or beggars as I now realize. But I can’t— Because I am sensitive.
I couldn’t blame Jordan for being naïve, How could he not be jealous of a boy who was always at the beach, Especially when first grade was just so demanding. I knew he couldn’t see what I saw. He couldn’t see that his shirt was not a fashion statement, His bathing suit wasn’t faded because he spends all day swimming with his siblings. And his bag of wares wasn’t that big because the boy was trying to get stronger muscles. I am sensitive. As the vacation continued and we spent many
If You Catch a Fish Wearing a Tie • Sarah Otis If you catch a fish wearing a tie, then it is probably on its way to a wedding. You should let the fish swim away, because it might be the best man. Or, maybe the creature you have caught is an axolotl, and he is inedible and might walk away anyway with his arms and legs. If a bear climbs up to your window and asks for a story, tell him about princesses; he is likely to leave you, then, to go purchase a crown at the nearest Walmart. If you see a vulture flying overhead, yell out “L’chayim!” for the vulture should very well begin learning the Hebrew language. If you see your crayons dancing, you should turn on the radio. If you hear a squirrel saying, “Polly want a cracker!” to his nut, then he is very likely confused. You should bring the squirrel to his local therapist as soon as possible and buy him crackers during his session. If you have an imagination, do not just leave it simmering in your brain—if you do ignore it, then it might boil over—that is of no good use.
I’ll Meet you in the Kitchen • Revital Chavel It is a bright day in Jerusalem. I am competitive. The sky is shining blue, a sweet scent from the flowers in the front yard is drifting into the room, and the scorching sun is burning through the big window and onto my back. I hope Papi finds us. My head is turned towards Ayelet, my little sister, whose back is also pressed against the window. We are clutching the white curtains 33
that are wrapped around us to cover our tiny bodies. I am holding my finger to my lips and Ayelet is shushing me, but we are both flagrantly mouthing “Quiet!” and giggling. It was a Friday, so I had gotten picked up by Daddy. I had held his hand and skipped home, anticipating a game of hide-and-seek with Papi. After lunch, Papi started counting aloud, and Ayelet and I scurried away to find “the best hiding place ever.” But there wasn’t enough room for both of us in any of the first hiding places we tried. There were too many cardboard boxes in the basement storage room, bleaches under the sink, and shoes in Mommy’s closet. “Ten,” Papi announced. Ayelet and I shrieked and giggled and ran around the living room in a panic. “Five,” Papi warned. Ayelet ran to the floor-to-ceiling window and motioned to me to come. At the same time, I noticed a better hiding place under the coffee table. I am competitive. But I ran to hide with my sister. We grabbed the curtains and twirled around in a circle until the room disappeared and the cloth surrounded us. “One!” We squirmed when we heard Papi’s footsteps in the room. “Where are my granddaughters? Where’d they go?” I tried as hard as I could to stifle my laugh. “What? What’s that?” Papi turned to the window. “Is that laugh coming from the toes peeking out of the curtain?” Ayelet giggled. “Toes can’t laugh!” Papi’s face suddenly appeared under the curtain and made us scream. “Oh! It’s Revital and Ayelet!” “Run for it!” We each escaped his grasp and fled the room, laughing, in different directions. “I’ll meet you in the kitchen!” I know that if I had hidden under the coffee table I would have won hide-and-seek. Ayelet and I wouldn’t have laughed and Papi wouldn’t have heard and found us. But, for once, I don’t think I played the game to win. I’m glad that I hid with my sister. Because I wanted Papi to find us. And I’m glad that we ran away together laughing. Because even if we run in different directions sometimes, we always will have hidden together and will always meet in the kitchen.
Dialogue • Ari Rosenthal This essay is in response to an assignment to choose literary characters , put them in a common setting, and write a dialogue among them, conveying a central theme in the works. This author chose Elisha, from Dawn; Terrance, from There Are No Children Here; and Linderman, from My Bodyguard. Elisha strolled through the doors of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and felt the ice cold breeze hit his face and seep through his skin into his bones. Elisha was visiting from Israel on a summer 2013 speaking tour of the United States. He figured he might as well visit the Skokie Holocaust Museum seeing as they had a large exhibit that featured artifacts and Judaica from his home town. Elisha paid the fee and walked down a flight of stairs that smelled strongly of metal, but to Elisha’s nose it smelled like blood. Elisha sat down on a bench where a Kristelnacht video was beginning to play. He sighed and pulled his old Resistance jacket tighter. He began to wonder what life would have been like if Hitler had never been born. Elisha yawned and was asleep shortly after. Terrence woke up at the Four Corner Hustlers headquarters and rubbed his eyes. The strong smell of alcohol and sweat was drowned out by the overwhelming smell of marijuana. Terrence slipped on his Air Force Ones and began to wonder what life would have been like if he hadn’t gotten caught trying to break his friend Ricky out of jail. Now he had to volunteer at the Illinois Holocaust Museum for a year. He drove to the museum in his Cadillac and parked his car in the handicapped parking space: He was feeling lazy. Terrence pulled out a broom from the maintenance closet and began doing his rounds when something caught his eye. There was an old man who had fallen asleep watching a movie in a secluded theater, and his wallet was nearly falling out of his coat. Terrence couldn’t believe his luck! Terrence sat his broom on the floor and tiptoed over to the theater. He looked up to make sure there were no security cameras and walked into the theater, letting the darkness envelop him. He walked over to the old man and began to reach into his pocket when suddenly a hand clamped around his neck and lifted him up. He looked around and saw a tall white man staring blankly back at him. “Man, who the hell are you?” screamed Terrence. “I’m his bodyguard,” replied the man as he jerked his thumb at Elisha. Unfortunately, all the screaming and noise had woken Elisha up. Elisha rubbed his eyes and surveyed the scene before him. He saw his bodyguard Linderman holding a man who looked very threatening. The man did not look like he belonged at the Holocaust Museum with his sagging pants with a black bandana hanging out of his pocket, a New Era cap tipped to the left, and a four studded earring. “Put him down,” Elisha whispered, “and somebody tell me what in G-d’s name is going on!” 35
“I caught this man trying to pickpocket you,” Linderman whispered. “Man, is he really your bodyguard?” Terrence asked. “Of course he is. I am a very important figure and as shown by you I need a bodyguard,” Elisha replied. “Well ain’t you boys just like the two musketeers,” Terrence said. “Your bodyguard is wearing a green coat that’s got more grease than the BP oil spill and you are wearing a coat that looks like it’s 100 years old.” “It’s actually about 75 years old,” Elisha said. “I wore it while fighting for the resistance.” “Wait a minute, are you a Holocaust survivor?” Terrence asked. “Yes, I am,” Elisha said. “I’m so sorry,” Terrence said. “I didn’t know, I shouldn’t have… You know, I’m part of a gang — and your people were hunted down by a gang. I just don’t know… I’m just so… Sorry. There was a very uneasy silence that took over the room. “Would you like me to call the police?” asked Linderman. Terrence gulped. “No, don’t,” Elisha whispered. Both Linderman and Terrence looked up in shock. “In fact, I would like to talk to you, Terence. Alone.” “Are you sure you would like to be left alone with the same person that tried to steal from you?” asked Linderman. “I’m sure,” Elisha said. Linderman looked at Terrence and then Elisha and briskly walked out. “So why didn’t you call the police?” asked Terrence. “It was the last thing you said, about you being in a gang that intrigued me,” Elisha said. “I knew that if I gave you to the police you would not learn your lesson and would go back to the gangs.” A tear slowly made it’s way down Elisha’s face. “The Nazis did kill my people. They killed over 6 million of them. I do not want you to have blood on your hands. I have been both the murdered and the murder. I do not want you to feel the pain I felt and experience the horrors I have. Gangs are never good. They inflict pain and death on whomever they see fit. I want you to leave now and hopefully take what I say to heart. If not, then you will face trouble somewhere else. If you are interested in what I’m saying, I will be speaking downtown tomorrow.” A tear streamed down Terrence’s dark face and then another and another. “I haven’t cried since I was seven. That was a real eye opener. I’ll be there tomorrow, thanks.” And with that Terrence got up and left. “Linderman, I know you’re out there,” shouted Elisha. “How did you know, Elisha?” Linderman asked. “I don’t know,” Elisha responded. “Can I ask you something?” 36
“Of course.” “ I admit I did some eavesdropping,” Linderman confessed, “But what did you mean when you said you are a murderer?” “Would you like to hear a secret?” Elisha asked. “When I was in the resistance, I executed a British man named John Dawson. I have never forgiven myself — yet I know what I did was right.” “I didn’t know that,” muttered Linderman. “I have only told one person about this, but I have killed a man too. No, even worse — I killed a boy — my brother.” “I didn’t think you were the murdering kind... Was it on purpose?” Elisha asked. “No, he reached for a gun that was in my hands and it went off. It was an accident. You know killing someone, it truly does change you. Now everyone in the city thinks I’m a murder and a rapist. “I need to go, Linderman,” said Elisha. “I feel as if I am all eyes, death itself. I just have so many memories and emotion going through me right now. “Of course,” Linderman said. Linderman and Elisha looked in the mirror in a different light. Elisha did see eyes, but only the two on his face, and Linderman felt better knowing he shared something in common with his boss. Terrence was driving his Cadillac and began to take Elisha’s words to heart. He thought maybe Elisha would mention him in his speech. When the day of the speech came, Elisha looked at the crowd and saw Terrence, and for the first time in a very long time both Elisha and Linderman smiled.
Childhood Lesson • Michal Weissberg I am standing in the midst of the hustle and bustle of LaGuardia Airport in my red and white nightgown. My siblings, also in their pajamas, are standing next to me, balloons and posters in hands. It is 10 o’ clock on a school night, way past my eight year old bedtime. Just like most weeks, my father had commuted to Chicago in the beginning of the week and was returning home Thursday night. This week, Thursday was also May 3rd, my father’s birthday. After my siblings and I had changed into pajamas and were ready for bed my mother told us to make my father a poster, put on shoes, and get into the car. No one should spend their birthday without those they love, so we were going to surprise my father and throw him a mini party in the American Airline terminal of LaGuardia. That party, though it was late on a school night and spontaneous, is one that my family loves to remember and relive every time we land at LaGuardia. I am a creature of habit. I wake up at the 6:56 everyday; sometimes I set my alarm for 6:45 if I have not prepared my lunch. It takes me twenty-four minutes to get dressed and then around fifteen minutes to prepare my breakfast and coffee. I am very organized; I live based on my lists, 37
assignment notebook, and schedules. Being late irks me, which I have learned from my German grandfather. I like to know the schedule of events, whether it is for vacation, school, a shabbaton, or a camp, and what I am going to do next. Although being organized is an important life skill, I learned at an early age that one also needs to know when to be spontaneous. I discovered that it is pivotal to know when it is best to change plans last minute, even when they had been planned out and organized two weeks in advance. My mother taught me that it is crucial to know when it is ok and even important to leave a schedule in order to do something different. Although analyzing and thinking things through is vital to making smart choices, I have come to understand the importance of being able to make decisions on the spot as well. My fatherâ€™s airport birthday surprise was not â€œaccording to the rules.â€? My mother took us out late in our pajamas. But that spontaneous decision has been a reminder to me that sometimes despite all the planning and the rules, one just has to let life happen and learn to celebrate the moment.
Dependability. There is always someone you can rely upon. Relative, friend, or complete stranger, he always shows up at your time of greatest need. He will always be there for you, to bear some of your load. Like a faithful horse, he will trot on. He will pull you one more mile. He will keep going for you until he can go no longer.
Kindergarten Lessons • Elana Perlow YU Honors Program: Robert Fulghum said: “All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten.” What is the most important lesson you learned as a young child? “Yuck! Elana, are we supposed to put that in our mouths?” I heard my kindergarten teacher patiently ask from across the classroom where my friend Jane and I sat coloring. We sat on the thin, maroon-colored carpet, decorating the page with our “Mr. Sketch smelly markers.” As we carefully stained the sheet with our broad strokes and amateur circles, the radiant spectrum of colors seeped into the paper and fruity smells filled the air. The red smelled of sweet cherries, the dark-green of ripe apples, and the yellow of fresh lemons. The smells called to me, and I told Jane to taste them. Slowly, raising the marker to my mouth, I placed the tip of it on my tongue. The vivid color bled onto my tongue, and my taste buds encountered the bitter flavors of carboxylic acids and carboxylates. Immediately, I gagged, tears welling in the corners of my eyes as my tongue instinctively recoiled. The bright colors had drawn me in; the smell had deceived me. Today, I still have similar misperceptions, although no longer with writing implements, but with my understanding of the strokes I paint on the portrait of life. I have learned from this experience but continue to encounter this struggle. The purpose of the “Mr. Sketch smelly markers” is to brighten the dull pages with the many shades of yellows, pinks, and blues, but the company added fruity scents to the markers to enhance each child’s coloring experience. My purpose in this world is to serve Hashem in every aspect of my life, to reach my potential and to then go beyond. In the words of Rabbi Yissochar Frand, it is my job “to reach beyond my grasp.” It is my belief that I was placed here to learn Torah and the ways of G-d, thus bringing Kiddush Hashem into the world. Hashem has given me a specific mission, one that only I can accomplish, but He has also given the physical world to enjoy. The physical world provides us with pleasure, but it can also enhance our understanding of G-d and His Torah. Through learning biology I can better appreciate the wonders of all living organisms around me; photosynthesis’s mechanical processes and the densely packed information in each strand of DNA amaze me and strike me with awe every time I study them. Through literature and poetry analysis, I understand that each word is precious, and I can recognize literary devices used by prophets that lived millennia ago. Exposure to these subjects has magnified my belief in G-d and allowed me to connect with Him on a higher level. It is easy to think that the physical world alone, with its bright colors and tempting aromas, is our destiny, but this would be a colossal mistake. Our purpose in this world is not to amass the most wealth or to acquire the most secular knowledge. In our society, it is easy to confuse the shallow and frivolous with that which is important. Magazines use vivid photography, constantly 40
bombarding us with how to “improve” appearances. The television obliterates our sensitivities with foul language, violence, and inappropriate relations. With the luring lifestyles of wealth and indulgence, it is easy to think that the physical world is the end towards which we are to strive, and not the means. Having been raised in the Torah world, I have been taught by my parents and teachers that that which can be measured quantitatively is not what is important. It is not one’s wealth, intelligence quotient, nor Euclid’s Golden Proportion of beauty that should guide our lives. Rather it is a Torah lifestyle, one filled with caring for those around us and learning to continue straight on life’s narrow bridge. Many times, I have slipped from my purpose, repeated prior mistakes and fallen. Gossip has left my tongue before I have given my words a second thought. I have blinded myself to the pain of others. I have failed many times. Regardless, it is my job to rise after each fall and take the next step, no matter how challenging it may be. In Proverbs, it states, “A tzaddik falls seven times and gets up again.” It is my purpose to get back up. A scented marker may smell delicious, but its purpose is to impart color. Its inventors added smell to the marker to enhance each child’s coloring experience, but Hashem gave His children the physical world to allow them to better connect with Him and to actualize their full potential. Children may mistake the pleasant smells as the purpose of the marker, assuming that it has delightful taste. We can misunderstand G-d’s gift, perceiving it as the end all and not the means by which we are to fulfill our purpose in life. At times, I still struggle to separate the smell from the desire to taste, but with the Torah to guide me, I can gain clarity beyond the limits of my senses.
The Game of Life • Avi Asher Life is in ink, it’s forever the same. Looking back I would hold you close and tight. No do-overs in life, it’s not a game.
Life is in ink, it’s forever the same. Please return! Do you remember my name? I was foolish, selfish, and you were right. No do-overs in life, it’s not a game.
What I did was for glory and fame, But the risk I took made you and me fight. Life is in ink, it’s forever the same. All of those sad mistakes, and me the blame. I miss you, I miss the beautiful sight. No do-overs in life, it’s not a game.
Don’t give up on me; one day I will claim That the old is back, and the new died last night. Life is in ink, it’s forever the same. No do-overs in life, it’s not a game.
You were once so innocent; no shame. I miss your pure look, everything so white. 41 41
A Gift from Beyond • Josephine Gendler
Last August, I was cleaning out my closet with my mom. We were sorting out the old things that I didn’t like and never wore or that didn’t fit me anymore, reorganizing my closet to make way for my new clothes for high school. I was 14 years old, and I was just a few weeks away from becoming a freshman. We had finished with the main shelves and were tackling the rows of hats, bags, and purses that hung from the hooks on my closet wall. I took down a large, light brown, suede purse I never used that my grandma had given me at least a year earlier. I brought it over to my bed, put it down, and started looking through its compartments, searching for any long lost items buried within. I didn’t remember putting anything inside or even opening this purse, but I had found so many forgotten things in long untouched pockets and bags that day that I wanted to make sure. In the first compartment I found tissues and an herbal lip balm. That a purse formerly owned by my grandma contained a small package of tissues and a tin of lip balm did not surprise me, it was so typical of her to carry those items with her wherever she went. My mind, which had been focused on the tasks at hand, was suddenly filled with memories of my grandma, who had passed away 4 months ago. Since her death, I had felt a deep loss. I missed her so much. Never before in my life had my connection with another person been completely terminated: Sure, I had lost touch with some old friends, but so long as a person is alive, there’s always a chance that you’ll get to see them again. But my grandma was gone; I would never see her again in my entire life, no matter what. I believe that the soul lives on after death, so I believed that I would see her again eventually, after my own death. But in the meantime, I felt lonely in my connection with her, because, while I still remembered her, it seemed that she no longer remembered me. All these thoughts and feelings had been far from my mind when I opened the purse; but they all came rushing back to me when I saw the tissues and the lip balm. I had no idea what I would find in the second compartment. After a few quiet moments, I put these first two items aside and continued to look through the purse. To my complete surprise, I found an envelope with my name on it. It was a European airmail envelope, with red, white, and blue stripes around the edges, one that I could not recall having received before. I opened it, and found some Euros and a little card, which said, in German “I’m still thinking of you.” It was exactly the type of small gift my grandma would give. It brought tears to my eyes. I felt as though she had reached out and offered me a token of proof that she still existed somewhere, somehow, and still loved me and was thinking about me. I sat down and cried a bit, but I felt better, and for the first time since she died, I felt comforted. The logical explanation is that my grandma hid the envelope in the purse when she first gave it to me so I would find her present when I got home and opened the purse. I had just never opened it and found it before. That is probably true, and my rational brain tells me that that’s the case. But in my heart, I feel that that small gift was left for me to find over a year later, to comfort me after her death. I still miss my grandma very much, but I am comforted. 42 42
Mother’s Day Poem • Emma Bernstein We gave my mother a plate with our handprints on it for Mother’s Day, so every time she uses it she will be reminded of us; when our hands were only big enough to wrap around one of her fingers. She gave me a blanket that wraps around me at night. She gave me brothers so I would learn to defend myself, And I gave her a plate. She took pictures so I would never forget the past, and she gave me photo albums so I could hold onto it forever, And I gave her a plate, on which I put my handprint. She said no so I would appreciate when she said yes. She told me beauty is in the eye of the beholder so I would be confident. She gave me consequences so I would learn from my mistakes. She watched me get hurt so I would learn to cry, and offered me her shoulder so I would never feel alone. She pushed me to try harder everyday so I would never give up. She told me that my smile lit up the room so I would never forget to be happy, And I gave her a plate with my handprint on it to repay her. She taught me to put myself in someone else’s shoes so I could learn to feel compassion. She told me to always give people the benefit of the doubt so I would never judge. She taught me how to fall gracefully so I would never be a sore loser. She taught me to never be jealous of someone else’s life because no one's life is perfect, and that the enemy you know is better then the one you don’t. She taught me that life is not made up of big moments; it’s made up of millions of small moments and every one of them counts, And I gave her a plate. She said, "Like mother, like daughter," and it made me feel like an amazing person. She told me to choose my friends carefully so I would never lose my ability to trust so innocently. She told me to sing no matter what my voice sounds like because everybody deserves to be heard. She told me to love wholeheartedly while my heart is still intact, because she knows someday it will be broken. She taught me that sometimes it’s okay to let that lump in your throat get the best of you, but then remember that nothing lasts forever and this too will pass. 43 43
She said if she had a penny for every time she said I love you, she would be the richest person in the world for making me feel loved beyond belief. She tucked me in and gave me a kiss on the cheek every night so that I went to sleep knowing that no matter what goes wrong in my life, I would always have her by my side; but the handprint would just be a little bigger.
A Cloud • Sam Baer A cloud changes, moving to new heights and new places continuously throughout its day. A cloud also stores a varying amount of water vapor during its existence, increased by evaporation, decreased by precipitation. Now examine “the cloud:” a computing technology wherein the computing hardware and infrastructure are shared amongst all users and reside in a data center, accessed by users on demand. Just like water clouds, “the cloud” changes size and location and stores different amounts of data, fluctuating on a never-ending basis. Understand “the cloud” – that it is environmentally friendly, only consuming the amount of power each moment necessary to support its users at that moment; that it is elastic – scalable to meet every user’s instantaneous computing power, space, and bandwith requirements, with no decrease in productivity. “The cloud” is reliable, with an uptime of over 99.9%. It is cost-conservative, calculating users’ usage endlessly and requiring users to only pay for what they consume. “The cloud” is a poster child for collaboration, allowing individuals to work together between any two points on the globe as if they are in the same office. Understand that “the cloud” is who I am. I am environmentally conscious. Sometimes, though, I forget to turn off the light and my mother calls to me, “Mr. Green, you forgot to turn off the light.” I am cost efficient — I thoroughly research the marketplace before buying anything, from big-ticket items like computers to smaller purchases such as textbooks. I also help Ida Crown and clients find goods and services at low prices. For example, I was designing and producing the Ida Crown literary magazine, Charlotte’s Web, for the second consecutive year, and I solicited printing bids saving the school over $1000 from what they had paid the previous year. I am reliable. While working for Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development Summer program, the need to create a spreadsheet tracking every aspect of course expenditures arose, a complicated project. Four weeks into my employment, I had proven reliable enough to complete this task in a timely, efficient manner, and was assigned to create this spreadsheet. I am scalable. I gear up for jobs of all sizes, and work as much as needed. As the leader of many groups, both formal and informal, I know when I can step back and the leave the tasks to others, and when I need to step in and take a more hands-on approach. I collaborate. Just as “the cloud” 44 44
is at the forefront of the pack, I am the leader of several groups, and collaborate with others on how to improve the methods we use to fulfill our missions. Aside from the properties common to myself and “the cloud,” which represents a large technological marvel, “the cloud” also represents my life. I spend countless hours researching technology, helping others use technology, and one day hopefully improve technology. “The cloud” is a stimulus for new technologies, and I too hope to mimic “the cloud” by generating new ideas, innovations, and technologies.
A Meal with the Family • Marnina Harris Balancing family and thoughts, Sitting comfortably at my dining room table, laughing with my family. I am to the left of my sister, across from my brother. I sit with my elbows on the table, intrigued by the conversation. In the background I see my brightly lit living and dining rooms with family pictures on the walls and I can see outside through the open windows. I am cheerful and smiley, Aware of my sister’s clanging silverware and my dog’s fur brushing against my feet under
the table. I am challenged to enjoy the moment and not think of all the work I must catch up on for school the following day. I wear a snug skirt along with my coziest sweater and warm socks that hug my feet. My parents listen intently as we go around the table sharing what the past week has had in store for us. My mother begins to cut the cantaloupe for dessert as the meal comes to an end. My father makes his way to the couch as I go to join him along with the rest of the family for the remainder of the afternoon.
Observing Steps • Gila Baer I am standing in a room in the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. I am observant. I sense the tension. I see the determined look on this young woman. She is probably in her 20's-so young. Her husband gazes at her somberly, but seriously—not showing much emotion. I see his frameless glasses resting just below his thin, angled eyebrows. His eyes stay focused on his wife as she sits in her wheelchair and gets strapped to a contraption. I hear one of the technicians quietly say, “Now there’s a lot of people in here. Let’s just focus. You’ll have to tune them all out.” It is quiet. I watch. She takes one step. Then two. Then three. All the way from one end of the room to the other. 45 45
It is quiet. I watch. She is so focused. She has a look on her face that, to me, seems to show that her is mind 100% taken up by the movement of her legs and the pressure she is applying to the walker in front of her. I see this woman, who, with her husband, has come from Michigan for a chance to be able to walk again. This is only the third time in five years, I learn, that she has taken these steps. I am mesmerized, shocked, stunned. This wheelchair-bound woman is walking. She was not born this way, you see, but seatbeltless in a car she ended up this way. I look at her face. The expression after that walk cannot be properly described. I imagine it is pain, grief, sadness combined with relief, triumph, and happiness. It is the annual Take Your Child to Work Day and I have gone downtown with my mother to participate in the program for employees’ children at the #1 rehabilitation hospital. My mother is downstairs working in the pharmacy and I am touring the building with a group from the program. When we reach this room, the door is closed and we must wait before entering. It is as if there is something private, something deeply personal going on in this room and we, the observers, must get clearance before entering. Once we are admitted, my attention is immediately drawn to a big black object suspended from a track running along the ceiling. I know it is an exoskeleton, but for those who come here for help, it is more than just that. It is their only hope, their last resort. Their last chance to be able to walk. I am fascinated. I am experiencing the moment when a paralyzed person walks. The emotion in the room is palpable. The look on this woman’s face is breathtaking. The power of life is irrefutable. I experienced the aggregation of medical marvels and personal tenacity. But, I did not simply see this feat; it was more than a sight. It was an experience. That image resonates with me every day. It is the epitome of what draws me to medicine. It depicts the treatment of the mind and of the body. It is helping people overcome their physical and emotional struggles. This was more than giving a person who cannot walk the ability to. It is the path by which the damaged become undamaged. I am an observer. I notice the faces. The expressions. I see the emotions. I look around and absorb the surroundings. I focus on the parts first and their sum second. I focus on the now and how it will affect the future, not the future and how it will be defined by the now. Today I am an observer. Tomorrow, I will be more.
How to be a Good Daughter to your Mother • Lily Kleinman So, little sister of mine, let me tell you how to be a good daughter like I am. First, never yell or shout at Mama, only talk in the most respectful way even when you are correcting her. Always smile and compliment Mama when she is dressing up and putting on makeup. If you see her crying or looking upset, go up to her and give her a hug. Tell her you love her everyday. Don’t 46 46
argue with her when she tells you to take out the garbage, clean your room, or do the dishes—just do it. If she’s having trouble with something, offer to help her even if there’s nothing you can do. Give her a hug and kiss, and say goodnight to her every night. “But what if she’s out of town?” Then you make sure to call her and wish her a goodnight. Every birthday and Mother’s Day make her breakfast in bed with her favorite breakfast. “But I can’t make eggs! I always burn them!” Well, it’s the thought that counts, or maybe ask me for help if you have to. And when it’s time for you to go away to college and move out of the house, don’t roll your eyes if she cries. Tell her it is going to be okay, and let her cry on your shoulder. And when it is time for you to get married, or when you know you are going to be having a baby, make sure she’s one of the first to know. Always make sure you bring your kids to visit Mama because she’s going to want to see her grandchildren. And when Mama is not with us anymore, it’s okay to cry because you love her and miss her.
The White Bobble Necklace • Josephine Gendler I gave my mother a white bobble necklace for her birthday in Israel. She had always asked to borrow it, on the rare occasion that I wore it, So I resolved to save it up as her next birthday present. I hid it in my suitcase until her birthday, when I presented her with The white bobble necklace. My mother gave me my life and my body, My hair and figure come from her. She gave me clothes to wear and books to read and toys to play with, writing and organizational skills, two languages to express myself in, a good memory and a good education to challenge it, and love, support, and good ideas. And I gave her a white bobble necklace. The most important thing my mother ever gave me was a second language. She gave me the ability to speak, to listen, to understand, To appreciate words, syntax, and context, To know when there is another, better way to 47
express myself To understand those movies without the subtitles, To sing highly annoying folk-songs, And to correct my teachers’ pronunciation. She taught me to read and write a language I couldn’t learn in school. She gave me the understanding of the beauty and importance of language. And I gave her a white bobble necklace. The most important thing I ever gave my mother was a reliable daughter. I gave her my cooperation, when she played with my hair like a live doll. I gave her my patience when she was cleaning the house or packing for the whole family on a lastminute trip or cooking for a large Pesach Seder and needed a quiet assistant. I gave her someone to talk to, complain to, joke or discuss ideas with. I gave her all my love. And a white bobble necklace.
k tw or
“Western Wall” • Sophie Gordon
“Eye” • Zalman Brimm
“Girl with the Violin” • Leah Gaynor
“Spring Time” • Rebecca Roffe 48
“Car Ride” • Rani Silvert
“Once Upon a Pancake” • Rivka Polisky
“Concentrate” • Dovi Garfinkel
“Freedom” • Lily Kleinman
k tw or
“Zion” • Josephine Gendler
“Elephant” • Leah Gaynor
“Bird’s Eye View 1” • Ariella Berger “D is for Dragon” • Yishai Campbell
rk “David” • Gavi Stein
“Be Creative” • Esther Montrose
“The Great Leap” • Josephine Gendler 51
k tw or
“Dancing in the Rain” • Leah Gaynor
“Bird’s Eye View 2” • Ariella Berger
“V’ahavta Lreacha Kamocha” • Rebecca Roffe “Hepburn” • Rani Silvert
“Hiding” • Zalman Brimm “Lachrymose Luna” • Natie Elkaim
“Peacock” • Ariella Berger “Journey” • Advanced Art
Ph o “Green Hills” • Zalman Brimm
“Observing” • Anna Shkolnikov
“City Sunrise” • Ariella Berger
“Beautifal Day” • Oshrat Faratci 54
o Ph tos “Rocky Start” • Rebecca Roffe “Butterfly” • Zalman Brimm
“Colorful Night” • Rivka Polisky
“Between the Lines” • Eliana Siegel
“Floating Life” • Anna Shkolnikov
“Sun” • Zalman Brimm
“Still Morning” • Sammy Greengus
“Hanging Green” • Sophie Gordon 56
o Ph tos “Old and New” • Eliana Siegel
“Journey” • Ariella Berger
“Divide” • Anna Shkolnikov “Caterpillar” • Sarah Quintas 57
Ph o “Foam” • Rivka Polisky
“The Open Road” • Eliana Siegel
“Patchwork Guitar” • Ariella Berger
“Homes on the Hill” • Rebecca Roffe
Courage. It is what allows us to carry on despite fear, rather than the absence of fear. It is that special strength that allows us to face challenges, uncertainties, and pain without succumbing to fear. Many think of courage as a quality that belongs only to fearless leaders. But there is more than one lion in the pride. And even the smallest of them can show courage, sometimes at the most unexpected of times. 59
Kohelet, My Cousin, and Me • Michal Weissberg I am sitting under the never-ending blue Florida sky. I am squinting to see through the sun’s sharp rays that blur my vision as my cousin’s words pierce through my thoughts. I feel my toes squirm and the white, Sarasota sand nestle between them. Kohelet? My twenty-five year old cousin sits before me in his white Hanes T-shirt with the words: “Ask me about spirit” written on it in markers. The truth is, I would rather not ask him about anything; yet clearly he does not feel the same way about me. He continues to ask his thirteen year old cousin confusing questions about faith, G-d, and the Bible, his latest question being what I believe the meaning of Kohelet is. I quickly mumble something I remember hearing my Rabbi discuss from the pulpit last sukkot and turn away. My cousin has gone through a roller coaster ride of religious transformations, leaving him currently as an atheist. Throughout his ups and downs he constantly probed me for answers to his favorite trick questions. He was not being fair. He had studied religion at Columbia University and was then a philosophy student at Harvard Graduate School, and I was thirteen, confused, and speechless. Four years later, I am standing in my kitchen. I put down my cup of coffee and turn to my now twenty-nine year old cousin, “I’m learning Kohelet in school this year,” I confidently state. He begins to challenge me with the same questions, but now I am not afraid; I stand tall, take in his questions thoughtfully, and carefully respond. My cousin used to scare me. I tried to love him and appreciate him for who he was, but I would never talk to him if my father was not in an earshot of the conversation. Who knew what he would ask me. Since when were Jewish high school students expected to be experts in every Jewish philosophical question and answer? I have grown since that encounter with my cousin sitting on the beach. Now, I am a senior in high school. Now, I am the one instigating conversation with this once scary cousin. I still do not know the answer to everything, but that does not intimidate me; I am not supposed to know every answer. Now I can stand tall in my kitchen and have an honest, intellectual conversation with my cousin. I have learned to put aside our differences in faith and converse. The cousin who once seemed to tower over me in wisdom, and who still knows more than I, does not scare me. I can withstand his questions, even if I do not have answers, and even ask him my own questions.
Fearless Dancing • Shana Rosenberg I am determined. I am standing on the sidelines of the stage at St. Scholastica Academy. I am about to go on the stage, in front of hundreds of people to dance. The rest of my class seems prepared, however I feel the opposite. I feel shivers down my spine. I see the people in the audience. I try to find my family and friends, but then again I can only see the first three rows from behind the curtain. I hear my classmates chatting about how excited they are for the dance. 60
All I taste is the saliva of my very own mouth. I feel the sweat dripping down my face I danced between the ages of three and ten, but I quit dancing to pursue gymnastics. Four years later, I decided I wanted to dance again, but I wanted to change genres. I went from Ballet to Hip Hop. Just hours before, I had returned from an NCSY convention in Wisconsin. The entire weekend I had not thought about the fact that I had a dance recital to practice for. It was not until the bus ride back that I had remembered to prepare. I had stood up in the aisle of the bus and had not been able to run through the dance even one time before I realized that it was not wise to dance in the middle of the aisle. When I got home from the convention, I showered, got dressed, and drove to the recital in my mother's sky blue Honda Odyssey. When I arrived at St. Scholastica Academy, the place where the recital was to take place, I jumped out of my mother's minivan and ran to the room where we were to wait and prepare until it was our turn to dance. When I got to the room, I spotted a group of girls in my class and went and joined them. Immediately I exclaimed: “I'm not ready.” My generous classmates Rachel and Ariel volunteered to help me go over the dance. We had gone out into the hallway and practiced the dance numerous times. Then it hit me, I'm not nervous about the dance, I know that. I'm nervous about the audience. I have stage fright which, like a ghost, comes back to haunt me. Hundreds of people will be in the audience watching me... and the rest of my hip hop class, but I'm front and center. By this time, I started freaking out. Don't be scared, you'll do fine, I thought. “Ten minutes for Hip Hop 2!” At that moment, my heart had dropped. It hit me as harder than a baseball bat. Ten minutes? My friend Sarah assures me that I will be amazing. I may not be the best dancer, but I do work hard and that's how I achieve what I do. I am going to give it my all. Moments later, the stage manager will tell us to go wait on the sidelines of the stage. We walked down the hallway to the stage. “Be quiet!” shouted the stage manager, “Would you want some shouting during your performance?” If the shouting would distract from my dancing. “Sixty seconds!” We go on to the stage and stand in formation. At this point, I want more than anything for this to be over, but I am determined to succeed. The loud music starts and the dancing starts instantly. Don't mess up! The song changes and we change formation. Halfway done.The song changes again and once again we change formation. Almost there! The song ends and we finish. I danced in front of hundreds of people. I danced my heart out. I forgot my fears.
The Mountain • Chad Simon As I stand here Feet rooted in the ground like giant Red Sequoias I stare at this mountain that I must defeat. I try to move forward, but can’t. My feet are like stubborn little kids and I can’t reason with them 61
They are adamant like the roots of Red Sequoia They will not move, step, or falter They are as rooted in the ground as my morals are rooted in me But I must move I have to begin my trek up this mountain For it is suffocating me. Its rocky hands surround my throat and I can’t breath All my aspirations flash before my eyes As if my entire life is contingent on the completion of this task The mounting of this mountain is momentous So I muster all my strength and try to dive headfirst into this Pool of sweat, hard work, and perseverance. My foot is uprooted at the foot of this mountain And all I need to do is touch it. At the intersection of “should” and “am” I place my foot on this hill of hell With its deadlines and instructions and requirements and rubrics And I’m off. While I climb I picture myself at the summit And I try to sum it all up with a few words to describe my feelings: “As I stand here…”
The Meaning of Anticipation • Dassi Karp Anticipation is a column of boxes, waiting to be checked. It is T-minus three seconds, a wound ball of yarn. Anticipation is the cracking spine of a new book. It is a stadium full of bated breath and crossed fingers, the chirp of an early morning bird. It’s the long line at the grocery store, and it’s the hands of a watch moving slower as time goes on. Anticipation is the silence before the crescendo, the pause before the leap. It’s clutching your armrest, preparing for landing, a box of mechanical pencils with perfect erasers. It’s knowing what, but not when or where or how, and not knowing if you want to find out. It’s the feeling building in the back of your throat and the pit of your stomach. Anticipation is a still pond, an appreciative chuckle, the scream of a mounting firework. It’s a tentative “Hello” in the hallway. Anticipation is almost the top of the Ferris wheel and almost the bottom of the barrel. It’s the edge of your seat, the tips of your toes—it’s feeling eternity. Anticipation is the promise of change, the promise to get better, the power to fulfill. It’s coming.
Cross Country • Ben Schreiber Balancing the pace at which I run Left foot, then right foot, and left foot again. On a grassy field at a foreign high school. In the background is the football team practicing, And the marching band playing a steady beat. I am skinny and tall, fourteen closing in on fifteen; Aware of the little energy that I have left And the oxygen that I desperately need. I am challenging the determination I have to run faster than I ever had
In my loose, grey sport shorts; ICJA jersey; and bright blue running shoes. What was I thinking pushing myself this hard, And laboring my body in extreme ways? My Father is on the other side of the field waiting for me to cross the finish line, Probably checking his iPhone for new emails, ones that weren’t there just seconds before And my mother is at my sister’s dance practice, probably doing the crossword puzzle from the paper, stuck on the last clue to her puzzle.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel • Noah Best I am sitting across the room from my broad-shouldered, well mannered and well groomed college counselor. I am a dreamer. I see my future, my Utopia, my “heaven on earth.” I feel accomplished, relaxed and most of all, free. I see an Ivy League graduate with a double major in French and economics. I see what once were dreams of a high school student that have now turned into what look like gold medals from the Olympics on top of my dresser. Pinned to the headboard behind the medals sits a plaque that reads: “Bucket List”. I hear laughter of young children, my children. I can smell the ice cream as my kids run after the ice cream truck on a warm Sunday in the middle of the summer. I can feel the sweat dripping down from my chin leaving a wet mark on my white shirt fitting tight like a glove under a navy suit, tie untied after a long day at work. I hope things will never change. I blink once. Then twice, and when I open my eyes my collegiate star athlete college counselor looks me dead in the eyes. “Tell me about yourself”, he says. I am a dreamer. My heart is pounding twice as fast as usual. Overwhelmed by the expectations of my family and community, my mind starts to race. I want to start high school on the right path, so I came here to gain some knowledge. 15 years old, I sat there thinking about my aspirations, the “do not enter” paths of life and who I want to be. So many choices and opportunities, every one leading to the 63
next. All that troubles me is my destination, how can I possibly start on my path if I don’t know where I am headed? Walking out of the meeting I had more concerns and questions then ever before. I knew walking into the meeting that I was a mature child, I have many aspirations, a bucket list looking like a grocery shop receipt for a year’s worth of groceries, everything from milk and eggs to paper towels and toilet paper. I worry constantly about who I might let myself become and how absorbing this world can be. I set unreachable goals for myself, and I am aware that they are not tangible. I have come here today to find myself, to figure out what it is that I search for and most of all, how to get there, But I am a dreamer. How to be a Bench Warmer • Dovi Garfinkel Spend your freshman year on the wrestling team working hard and succeeding. Leave the wrestling team the next year and begin training for basketball. Train hard. Spend hours perfecting your shot, your rebounding, and you dribbling (especially your left hand). Go running, exercise, and build strength; you’re going to need it when it comes time for tryouts. Play pick-up games at the park and in your drive way with your brothers and cousins. Admit painful defeat when you lose. Realize that you need more practice. When the time comes for the first open gym, try your hardest but realize that tryouts are still a month-and-a-half away. Sprint as fast as you can when the coach says so, and don’t give up, no matter how little breath you have or how tired you are. Do every pushup, every sprint, and every drill with complete confidence and concentration. Don’t give up. Go to every open gym, you need to practice and you need to get the attention of the coaches. On the day of tryouts, drink a lot of water and eat a wholesome breakfast and lunch. Come to tryouts prepared and ready to face any challenge thrown at you. Sprint through every suicide no matter how much you want to stop and throw up. Keep your mind sharp for every drill and listen to instructions. Repeat this process three times until tryouts are over. Wait nervously to hear whether you have made it. Think about all the things that you did wrong and how many people performed better than you. Check your email constantly; wait for the email saying that you did not make the team. When it does not come feel accomplished and relived; your hard work has paid off. Get to the first practice on time and ready only to be told that there may need to be a couple of cuts due to grades. Feel that knot in your stomach and replay all your grades in your head. Feel relived once again when no one is cut. Come to your first game excited and ready to play. Sit through the game with your bench buddy next to you eagerly looking over at coach as you wait to go in. Leave the gym unsatisfied that you did not get to play. In the locker room, congratulate all your teammates on the win, get dressed, and head upstairs to your family who came all the way out to watch you sit on the bench. Go to the next game with the same excitement as the last. Sit close to coach, maybe he will notice you. When he says your name jump up and check in by the table. Walk onto to court with confidence. Post up down low, get the ball, throw up a fake, and watch your opponent fly over your head while you lay the ball in the basket. Smile, 64
you have just scored your first points. The next night do everything the same but when your sixsix opponent throws up the ball, jump as high as you can and block the shot. Feel like the top of the world when everyone on the bench stands up and cheers for you. Leave that night feeling accomplished and proud. Continue to practice and condition for the next few weeks. Come to your games ready to play. Sit on the bench while your bench buddy plays. Look at the coach in shock when he does not put you in for four games straight and then puts you in for fifteen seconds. Feel infuriated; think what you could have done wrong in practice, does coach just not like you? Sit on the bench game after game occasionally getting in for a few minutes while you know that you could help when the team is losing. Get angry and lose all expectation in getting decent playing time. Feel guilty when you start getting more playing time because two players have injuries. Start to build up more confidence in your game. Come to your possible last game of the season excited, confident, and ready to play. Take your usual spot on the bench and watch every shot, rebound, and turnover diligently. Wait to get in the game but realize that it is just not going to happen tonight. Get in for the last couple of minutes because your team has no chance of coming back from their deficit. Have a post-game meeting in the locker room. Listen to the coaches tell everyone everything they did wrong while you know that you did nothing wrong because you barely got in. Be told that the season is over and to stay posted for the date of the awards night. Feel angry and think of what you are going to do better next season. Do not keep your head down for too long because by tomorrow it will be behind you. Give yourself a short break and then start training again.
Wrestling • Gal Gurvich “Gal, you have another match soon,” Coach reminded as I sat on the ground, absolutely crushed. My hands were still shaking from rage. Like a father, Coach knew just what to say. Unfortunately, I was not listening. I just walked away from a semifinal wrestling match that I was winning until the last twenty seconds – all because of a rookie mistake on my part. “Coach--” I began, fighting back the tears, “I walked onto that mat with no preconceived notions. I was ready to lose. But with victory so close… I was going to go to the finals. How did I blow it?” And how was I going to wrestle again? Every good wrestler has that critical match, where so much is at stake, and, like a fairy tale gone horribly wrong, discovers the pain of loss. He convinces himself that it cannot be true, that victory was the only thing that made sense; it could be no other way. Looking back, I am grateful I lost that match. It changed me in a few ways. It taught me that I will not always get what I want, no matter how hard I work for it or how important it is, thus reducing my sense of entitlement. It also put things in perspective for me, because, as important as wrestling is in my life, losing a match, no matter how decisive, does not come close to the 65
tribulations a human being can endure throughout life. Instead of crying over the trivialities that I wish I had, I must be grateful for what I do have: a functioning body, a loving family, and a quality education. I gave a lot of thought regarding that match and what went wrong in those six minutes. I realized that beyond the surface there was a much larger problem than a mere slip-up. Once I was leading the match by four points, I lost focus because I thought that victory was secured, and all that had to be done was have my hand raised by the ref and revel in the joy of success. But life, much like a wrestling match, “ain’t over till it’s over.” You must always keep focus in whatever you are doing. The last thing I learned was never to give up. I lost that match--nothing can be done about the past, other than to take to heart its lessons. But I would wrestle again, again, and again. That match would not be the last of life’s ambitions that I could have, should have, but did not realize. Yet the greatest of human triumphs is the ability to rise from the ashes of failure. So I go on wrestling.
I am a Fighter • Maxwel Brasch The armies of cold, tiny ice crystals rapidly attack my face; the wind persistently tries to prevent me from moving forward; and the placid snow-covered trees sit there as if they are enjoying the fight between me and the deadly snowflakes, between me and the persistent wind, and between me and gravity. I am a fighter. I am traveling with my bike to school. I hear the wind rush through my ears as if they are waves in the ocean. Outside the ground is slippery, and the work is strenuous. I cannot go back because I will miss the school bus from Skokie to Northbrook. The only way out is to push forward – so I push forward. My heavy backpack is strapped tightly to my back to reduce the burden. My lunch bag is strapped to my side. I am pushing my bike because I cannot ride it in the snow; however, I did not know that about ten minutes ago. Despite the obstacles nature throws into my path, I am a fighter. Since the beginning of middle school my dad had made it clear to me that I was to find my own transportation to school, which was little less than two miles away from my house – all routes to school were unfortunately uphill. My mom had not known what my dad had planned for me, so she had entered me into a carpool with four other families. My dad was still very insistent on my finding my own way to school even though I had a carpool; I was in a carpool but then again I was not. My dad has the belief that making a commitment to this strenuous feat every morning was a character building activity. The main point of my dad’s last minute command was that I did not miss a single day of riding my bike, walking, or rollerblading to school. After a short while, brisk weather was a simple task, hot weather was more than easy, and rain was just as easy to ride in as the last two weather condition. Snow was the real task, and this day happened to be the king of all snowy days. It was winter, and it was early – about six-o’clock. I left early on days with snow. The snow was 66
falling to the ground; the wind was blowing about 20 miles per hour. I begged my dad to let me go in carpool knowing all too well that taking the car was out of the question. The more I gazed out into world outside my cozy house, the more the feat seemed impossible. I left my house biking. This time, however, biking required extra balance because the snow made it slippery. And steering was just as hard as trying to balance on the snow blanketed streets. No matter what number gear I used and no matter how hard I tried peddling my efforts became useless. I trudged on for about fifteen minutes. The cars were whooshing past me because I was on a busy road, and the back roads had not yet been plowed. I continued on this road until I felt a loss of balance and an unexpected twist of the handle bars. I fell onto the path of the fast moving cars. Luckily the driver behind me moved with such agility and dodged me by an actual couple inches. That was it. I was done biking; it was too dangerous. I decided to change my tactic – my strategy, my “game plan” – of “fighting” the weather; I now began to take the back routes by foot. I ran against the wind uphill with my bags and bike by my side. It seemed like hours. I could taste the brisk wind tickling my throat. I could see the end of my journey; the school finally came into sight. I never knew how I collected the willpower to get off my bike and walk up that two mile hill, in the cold snow, and with the wind tearing away at my bare face. It seemed impossible, yet I did it. I fought my way through that high snow in my vulnerable blue Nike sneakers. I made it and I found out that I was truly a fighter. At the school my mom was waiting in the car smiling at me; it turned out to be a snow day. I looked down the street from which I came, and realized that I am a fighter.
Sorry is Not a Five-Letter Word • Machol Benmelech I’m standing near the benches kicking at the squeaking floor with my brand-new sneakers during six-grade gym. It’s the beginning of the year and the whole grade is sitting waiting for the annual gym safety lecture. My heart is pounding and there’s a lump in the back of my throat the size of the golf ball underneath one of the bleachers. “You’re doing this right now,” I told myself. There was no more avoiding it, no more excuses. I lifted my eyes and looked at him. He was sitting innocently enough, not looking particularly bothered at anything in the world. This did not seem to match my expectations, my visions of him sulking sadly in the corner completely wounded by my words. I cannot remember what I had said to him that had left me feeling so guilty. It was probably said as a passing remark, nothing planned or vengeful. Nonetheless, I later felt guilty about it. Perhaps if it had not been the time of the year when I got lectured on regrets, it would not have even crossed my mind. However, somewhere between my teachers’ harsh words and sleepless hours, I had come to the conclusion that I had to apologize. I had to beg forgiveness for this misdemeanor or I would not be able to feel at peace with myself. Over the past few days I had kept pushing this moment off, but now I knew it was now or never. Taking one small step for an eleven year-old and one giant leap for my conscience, I stepped 67
away from my cluster of friends and started to climb the Mount Everest that was the bleachers. Each step closing the gap between us, I trudged on. At last I came to a halt in front of him. He looked up at me, a little unsure. The people around us didn’t seem to take notice of this encounter or register the sound of my heartbeat, which to me seemed like it was on the loudspeaker. I opened my mouth and closed off my mind. “Umm…I’mreallysorryaboutwhatisaid,” I blurted, my finger finding a loose thread at the bottom of my shirt. “Uh…yeah, sure. I mean, it’s fine,” he replied, a blank look on his face. I realized he had absolutely no clue what I was talking about. All this pain and anxiety my words had cost me had left no effect on him. “Oh, well okay then, anyway sorry I just thought I should--” Thankfully just then the sharp gym whistle sounded and the moment was broken. I turned on my heel and leaped my way down the bleachers. I caught up with my friends a little out of breath and a lot more light-hearted, and sat down to hear the repetitive speech about safety, respect, and gym shoes. That day I learned something that made a casual day in middle school cling to the back of my mind. I learned that sometimes it’s not so much about saying sorry to others as it is about learning to say you’re sorry to yourself. I learned that being brave is admitting your defeats and learning to forgive yourself for them.
Humor. The inexplicable sensation of amusement. Why do we laugh? Nobody really knows. Humor can make us smile darkly or laugh hysterically. It makes the world a little lighter, every personâ€™s life a little brighter. Only living creatures can understand it. Even the monkeys get it, but no-one has been able to teach it to a computer.
69 Rebecca Roffe
Wicked Wayward Willy Wonka• Sarah Quintas Without the slightest doubt in my mind, I am entirely certain that Willy Wonka is a ruthless villain as well as a criminal who deserves to be tried in a court of law. Having seen and analyzed both movie versions of the story, as well as the original book by Roald Dahl on numerous occasions, I consider myself to be an expert in the area. For those reasons I believe that I am more than qualified to make such an accusation. Mr. Wonka hired illegal immigrants, performed unlawful experiments, purposely put children into dangerous situations that he knew would ultimately harm them, and performed many more unthinkable acts. His character is cruel and unlawful and needs to be brought to justice. Practically a slave driver, Mr. Wonka forced his employees to work for hours on end before suddenly firing them all after he grew paranoid that someone was trying to steal his inventions. In Tim Burton’s 2005 version of the movie, Joe Bucket, the grandfather of the story’s protagonist, was among those fired. It seems that Wonka did not give any of his workers any severance pay following their dismissal: Joe shortly afterward grew extremely poor and was forced to live on nothing but cabbage soup. Wonka, meanwhile, became a recluse, retreating into his factory for over a decade without once leaving. Wonka never showed remorse for his actions. Willy Wonka kidnapped odd humanoid creatures called Oompa Loompas from their home country, and locked them away in his factory and forced them to work for hours on end like slaves. In addition to the issues involving illegal immigrants, Mr. Wonka was known to test his (sometimes poisonous) candy on the Oompa Loompas to see what the reaction would be. These experiments would often result in permanent disfigurement and mutilation of his workers. Causing one of the creatures to float away after drinking his anti-gravity potion, or turning them into giant blueberries from his three-course gum are just two examples of many. He never pays them in money, but rather a small ration of food, like mere animals. Such unethical treatment should never be permitted, no matter what the circumstances. Perhaps the most heinous of Mr. Wonka’s crimes revolve around the children who entered his factory. Three out of the five children exited the building horribly mutilated, and all of them were scarred in some way or another. In the 1971 movie version, Wonka not only admitted later to his planning the children’s’ fate, but also making them sign a contract with print so fine it was impossible to see. It is illegal for minors to sign contracts on their own, let alone contracts invisible to the naked eye. Furthermore, Wonka seemed to take no effort in helping any of the kids despite the fact that he could have stopped their damage before it was too late. For instance, Willy Wonka never attempted to pull the haywire gum out of Violet Beauregard’s mouth. Nor does he save Augustus Gloop from the chocolate river as he was drowning--quite the opposite, in fact: Mr. Wonka, instead of expressing worry for child, took to bemoaning over his precious chocolate that was now “contaminated”. Certain methods of his also seemed to mimic those of ancient torture devices. For instance, after being shrunk, Mike Teavee was put into the “taffy 70
stretcher,” a machine that appears frighteningly similar to an instrument known as the rack. The rack was used as a form of punishment in the Middle Ages. A victim would be strapped down and pulled at until all or many of his bones were dislocated. Only the most twisted and unscrupulous of minds would even consider doing such a monstrous thing to a nine-year-old boy--or a child of any age for that matter. Any doubts of Wonka’s true intentions can easily be dismissed. Some may say that he had every right to fire his employees, for it was only in self-defense. Based off of the sheer size of his factory, let alone its astounding décor, it is obvious that Mr. Wonka had more than enough money to give his workers severance pay. He also did not warn them in advance, but rather locked the gates one day, announcing that his factory would be closed to the public. Surely, this is no way that a kind, understanding employer would behave. Others say that he was doing the world a favor by doing off with the “bad” children on his tour, claiming that their punishments were entirely justified. Statistics say otherwise. A list of most common factors that lead children to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according to Marty Martin, a Master’s Degree candidate in the Clinical Psychology Program, included watching someone being badly injured, physical assault, and experiencing an austere injury or accident. Based off of this poll, there is nearly a fifty percent chance that any one of the children would develop PTSD after their horrible ordeal. Other studies proved to be equally grim. A study done in Norway stated that eighty two percent of patients in psychiatric hospitals had experienced a childhood trauma in some shape or form. Yet another survey, done by the U.S. Department of Mental Health, stated that over forty-seven percent of people diagnosed with a serious mental illness (schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, among others) had suffered from psychological abuse. Turning a child into a giant blueberry definitely counts as trauma. In no way would Wonka’s punishments be helping society, nor did he teach those children valuable lessons. Instead, four innocent youths were tortured and scarred for life at the hands of a madman. In the end, Wonka’s deeds did more than just hurt a few children. There is little doubt that the tour and its aftermath caused great stress for the Gloop, Teavee, Beauregard, and Salt families, likely tearing them apart for good. Because of the contract they signed, the children will be forbidden to speak of their torment, forcing them to keep it bottled up inside until the memories eventually drive them mad. Even Charlie, who won the factory for himself, will never be the same. Wonka never left his factory in decades, so why would he let his new partner leave? Charlie, like Wonka, will be forced to stay indoors, lacking any and all social contact outside of his family, Oompa Loompa, and the crazed chocolate maker. Without meeting anybody, Charlie will not find himself a wife, nor have a child to be his successor. This will leave him with no choice but to create yet another contest in order to find the perfect heir, and perhaps torture a few children along the way, in a never ending cycle of terror. 71
Island B • Frannie Miller In classroom five in the first grade hallway, Frannie’s seat was among a small cluster of desks. Every day, she spent three hours staring at the students whose desks also existed in the isolated island in the fourth quadrant of the classroom. Emily was to her left; Emily’s mother was half British. Sammy sat across from her, and Bobby David sat to her left. Max had used to sit there, but he had been too talkative and Mrs. Gold had moved him. Frannie did not like Mrs. Gold. Frannie did not like Bobby David either. His handwriting was cramped and messy, and he did his math work so fast that the graphite rubbed off on his fingers. Unlike Frannie, Bobby David did his work. But worse than that, he was always silent, like a monk in a sacred temple. One fateful Tuesday, Frannie decided that realigning the desks in island B of quadrant four was, as most things were, more important that doing her grammar work. She slid the desks around while everyone else was occupied. Bobby David told her to stop and do her work, but she ignored him. Mrs. Gold sat across the room, far away from island B, focused on the blanket she was knitting for one of her many grandchildren. Bobby David’s pinky and ring finger dangled into the separation between their desks, inhibiting Frannie from pushing the corners together neatly. “Bobby, move your fingers. I’m straightening out the desks.” “No.” “Bobby, move your fingers.” “No.” And so Frannie straightened out that desk with a slam, making Bobby’s fingers crooked. He howled. Mrs. Gold dropped her knitting. Frannie watched these proceedings interestedly. Only the next day would her dislike of Bobby wear away and she would begin to feel guilt. And so she would complement his shiny cobalt blue splint, and he would say thank you without even looking away from the black board, and Frannie would decide that she would just let the desks that composed island B of quadrant four of classroom five grow more and more crooked, even if they started to float apart. That summer she moved to the Midwest.
The Tooth Fairy • Samantha Miller It’s getting increasingly difficult to find the things I am supposed to look for. The list of children is gone, for one, and also, I feel like giving up on ever finding this girl’s tooth, if she even still loses them. After going through this room in great detail, I have stumbled upon some amazing findings; partially because I have never had to look this meticulously into a room before and also because I find her fascinating. This girl should really take a day off. But she’s busy. She’s got places to be. There’s no time to finish putting her clothing away. But why would she? All the clutter softens the room. 72
The room is tight, cozy, and colorful; I could see that she doesn’t have her heart set on any one look. Her bed pushed against the meeting of two walls; corners can be cold. The central pillows where they belong; the extras thrown wherever. I’m never going to find this tooth. The magenta and burgundy duvet is boldly standing out. To make matters more difficult, she’s even got another blanket. She really needs better blood circulation; I know there are magnetic bracelets out there that can help. The white carpet concealed by the black throw rug. The color contrasts going on in the room make her feel at home, comfortable, and warm. If this room ever shivered, it’s certainly sweating now. I think this girl has to learn to take things slow. Her computer rests on the floor tangled in two pairs of headphones; two pairs of headphones--not one. She breaks things. Maybe even loses them. This puts a whole new meaning on the expression “lost tooth.” Maybe she shouldn’t be keeping her computer on the floor then. Leaving her closet doors half open and constantly reminding herself that she’s got some putting away to do. How does she live without constantly thinking about her mess? She doesn’t, that’s how. She’s too busy to organize. Her shoes are spilling out of those double closet doors. She obviously wants to put things away. She’s the one who put that coat hook on the back of her door; however, she’s also the one who hangs belts, not coats, on that very same coat hanger. She’s got bags and books and even more blankets on the floor. I’m going to have to use my wings to get across the room. It’s nice to see some order in this chaos. A bookshelf—no, two. And both are actually filled with books. Oh wait, this one has textbooks, and this one has her Hebrew books, so that means all of her leisurely books are on the floor. Luckily, there is a window. I think both of us could use a breather. The bulletin board is filled with so many pictures—it’s no wonder her room isn’t put away — she’s rarely in it. There are decorations and painting strewn across the top shelf in a book case. She really has plans for this room. That desk is filled with blank papers, waiting patiently for their owner’s pens and paints. I hope this girl finds the time to use them. From the looks of her paintings, she’s got true talent. I see something sparkling across the room on that popping purple dresser. What a stunning bracelet. She has got extremely good taste in jewelry, or at least her mother does, because there’s no way a young child could be this good at shoppi—Oh no. Is that makeup I see? She’s not as young as I thought she was. I’m in the wrong room. Perhaps she has a little sister.
HERO • Haia Bchiri Music to these lyrics composed by Ben Eisenstein After every winter comes a spring, and after that a summer. A rainbow follows every rain, and every heart a drummer.
For every nighttime there’s a dream, The sun behind every storm. Every mouth comes with a smile, and with every fire comes something warm. Every night has a morningstar, 73
Every darkness has an end. Every tale’s got a hero, and every hero has a friend.
every river a beat. There’s a light after every tunnel, and in every jar a treat.
Make yourself that hero, Find where darkness ends, seek the morning star, and let me be your friend.
Every night has a morningstar, every darkness an end. Every tale’s got a hero, and every hero’s got a friend!
Every cloud has a silver lining,
The Lending of a Petal • Ariel Perrit The pile of pink, red, and white petals lay in a clump on the carpeted floor. Ilana’s flower basket was now half empty. Ariel, Ilana’s older sister, around six years old, was lightly tossing the petals evenly down the aisle. Ariel looked back and saw her younger sister, staring, puzzled in her black and white dress with her hair curled perfectly. Ilana’s huge brown eyes locked with Ariel’s and Ariel saw the confusion. Ariel walked back and grabbed Ilana’s hand while leading her down the aisle and showing her how to throw the petals evenly. She snuck a few petals of her own into Ilana’s basket and showed her how to elegantly toss her hand in the air as petals fell to the ground. “It’s just like ballet,” Ariel whispered. Leading the way was Ariel’s cousin Jordon, one year younger than she, watching her feet as she stepped one in front of the other; she, too was tossing the petals. Around her, adults stared and smiled, giggling at the cuteness of the three young children throwing petals down that thin aisle. At the back, ready to follow the three girls, was the bride, Ariel’s aunt. She had on a magnificent white gown that flowed behind her. Ariel’s soon-to-be-uncle waited at the front wearing a suit with a black tie. When the last petal was thrown, Ariel, Ilana, and Jordan stood beside their aunt, smiling proudly at the array they had just created. The service ended and the bride and groom leaned in for a kiss. Jordon giggled while Ilana squinted her face in disgust. Ariel turned around and mouthed the words “true loves kiss” as they all tried to contain their laughter. Time has passed, but in a way, Ariel still holds Ilana’s hand and helps her navigate down different kinds of aisles. And although Ilana sometimes wants to do it herself, those huge brown eyes of hers sometimes still let her big sister know when she needs to be lent a few petals and some instruction on how to toss them.
Stream of Consciousness • Yuda Goldbloom He clearly loves science. To be honest, that seems as if it is the only thing that he likes! Dedicating an entire desk to vials, beakers, G-d knows what else-it’s not important to me. Gosh this room is depressing. To be so enclosed in one idea, one subject, where is the freedom? How can a person know how to be free when they’re young, but forget when they grow up? He’s clearly forgotten already, that’s why I’m here. But why am I here? He clearly loves science…why am I here? Looking through his private space, maybe that’s why, his room a window into his life, with me viewing and taking notes like some police officer behind a fake mirror. But I hate mirrors. I look to his books, my instinct kicking in. Some science magazines. A science encyclopedia. The room feels closed in, a bunker underground. Locked in a box, with SCIENCE books? He must love science. There’s no other explanation to it, how can one actually choose to live this way, so close minded, so boxed in, so uncreative. If I could get a better look at his writing, maybe then. So many people find writing to be the outlet to that dam of information in our minds, his brain must have an ocean held back by his dam. On the other hand, his chemicals are a total mess, a clear sign of creativity. Maybe he didn’t build that dam…some past life event? His parents? We’ve all been told to watch for physical sign, the conscious mind being a snitch and all. So many cases like this, the parents call in, I have to try and help someone I don’t even know. Based on the way his room looks, I can assume that he cares only for one thing-science. But assuming is the worst thing a person can do. So many people do. Remember high school? Jesus that was crazy. The assuming going on in high school is busier than the street outside my office the day that the troops come in. The stories people tell. I wonder what he’ll tell me. Maybe he’s smart. If he’s smart I’ll hate him. these goddamn smart kids. Always the same thing. He’ll start telling me how his problems keep coming back and that he doesn’t know how to deal with them. For the first time in his life, he won’t be smart enough to know how to deal with his own problems. His parents are smarter, more experienced than him, and even they can’t deal with him. the smart kids are the worst. They assume that their brains will get them everywhere. That if they rely on their brains, the world will just march to their pace. If only they knew. If they knew that the world doesn’t march, but flow, then maybe they wouldn’t act like a rock, and instead try to flow also. How can they be so smart, and yet so ignorant at the same time? If they’re so smart, shouldn’t they know about common sense? And that despite what the technicality of science tells them, that knowledge comes from that thing people call a heart? That’s why I chose this job. I may not be Einstein, or Freud, but I’m not as blind as the smart kids are. Remembering my training. Assuming is the worst thing a person can do. In five minutes, he’ll walk in, tell me his story, and I’ll instantly find thirty ways that he can improve his life. I’ll try to understand how he feels, and what his life is like. Maybe
he’ll tell me that this room, his science, is his mask. Maybe he’ll tell me that he wants to be in theater, but his parents don’t understand him and that side of the brain. I have no idea what he’ll tell me. All I know is that he works with chemicals. He sleeps with his brother on a bunkbed. There’s a flashlight on his bedside table. Maybe he’s scared, yes that’s why he keeps it there… maybe. No, I can’t assume. It’s possible…it is possible…that he likes science.
Skunkâ€”Misunderstanding. The cause of so much conflict. Nobody really knows exactly what you thought or meant. What is the truth? Is a skunk a stinking little rodent or a just cute fur-ball with an effective defense mechanism? Depends who you ask. But nobody really knows the true motive behind any action except for the perpetrator.
Aromatic Love • Tali Pelts This essay was inspired by James Joyce’s short story, “Araby,” a place, a metaphor, a moment in time . I stood at the entrance to Araby, a bazaar bursting with possibilities, bursting with love. I prayed to god that it’s not closed as I prepared my money and entered. I peered around at a setting that questioned my expectations. I had dreamed of lush silks in a wide spectrum of bright colors, of spices of every sort, of food that I had never seen before. Yet what I saw was a bazaar that was slowly closing up its shops. I surveyed my surroundings and realized that there were still a few stalls open. Perhaps I could still look around. I entered a particular stall by the name of Café Chantant. A female shopkeeper conversed with a few young gentlemen several feet away from me. Their friendly, effortless banter threw me off guard. Sing-songy and flirty, the girl’s voice reverberated off of the stall’s walls, taunting my inexperienced, graceless, pubescent self. As I gazed at the kitchenware sold at Café Chantant, I wanted nothing more than to buy my angel, Mangan’s sister, something of beauty comparable to the beauty she possessed. She was the sole reason for my being at the bazaar. I had been studying this girl’s magnificence from the shadows for as long as I could remember and when I finally mustered up the courage to speak to her, I promised her that if I went to Araby I would bring her something back. I was always one to keep my promises. I then switched my focus back to the conversation in the stall. As the truth dawned on me, my expression changed. I will never have what it takes to attain the girl of my dreams. She was a rose, a sweetness-bearing thing, while I was just the thorn that stuck to her side, unbeknownst to her. I left Araby, giving up my sweet rose. Ten years later, I can still smell the fragrance of the flower I left behind at the bazaar.
Where to Go From Here • Noah Shaffer Only there.
All our hope resides within the bud that never bloomed; within the boys, they never groomed; within the stone, they’ve never moved.
Where our hope will side amongst us boys. For we moved stones. And never groomed.
And Where to go from Here?
Her Room • Audrey Fretzin The room is bombarded with color, hot pink surrounds me and this girl must either be free spirited or have every piece of her life together, neither of which is me. She probably wears her hair in a French braid every day. France. Foreign countries can feel more at home than this room — it feels alien to me. And she has a book on the bedside table with a bookmark at pg. 300, and she probably stopped reading it because she’s been assigned many school books to read. School seems like so long ago. What is only a few years feels like decades, centuries ago, the naïvety, I miss the naïvety, knowing what to expect day after day. And those in-style distressed boots, who would distress boots on purpose? They get dirty so easily no matter how hard you try to prevent it, and here she is, buying boots made to look old. She is so young, just like I was when the war started. A teenager, with her whole life ahead of her, planning her future. The guitars, all lined up in uniform facing her bed, like soldiers looking to their general for command. Their hands in imaginary salute. And a TV, where she watches current events from a distance instead of living and breathing them. Or maybe she uses the TV to watch childrens shows with lots of pointless drama and popularity competitions and just trying to fit in. She fits in nicely; she must have a creative, but solid group of friends. I remember when friendship was built on similar interests, not similar positions. Would she be willing to sacrifice herself for those friends or are they only temporary? How deep do shallow friendships go? They are delicate like paper, the friendships you make in the army are much more tightly woven. Your friends help keep you sane. Keep you human. She has a clean desk and dresser tops and a made bed and everything is so organized, so put together. She has storage units in her bedroom, seriously organized, like barracks. But she has orange carpet, which differentiates it, and her hobbies lying around. She has 6 guitars and a keyboard in here, screaming her personality. The sheet music overwhelms me with a different kind of music, if you can even call it that. Rhythmic gunfire, going off every few seconds, a whole different beat and rhythm to that. That music is unnaturally loud, leaves your ears ringing, my head ringing for probably eternity too. I won’t ever be able to forget that. War leaves its mark, and it definitely did on me. But she probably began learning to play musical instruments not for the sound, but for her transcript. You have to be almost perfect to get into college these days. She’s so prepared, so different from me. I didn’t know what I wanted to do forever. And here she is preparing for her whole life. She’s definitely got it all lined up, maybe on a Microsoft Word spreadsheet or one of those personalized notepads where you can write your to do list out neatly. She has a ready to go survival kit resting gently on the wall. How ironic. I needed to worry about surviving, but she’s not merely surviving. No, my daughter is thriving.
Last Chance • Tali Pelts Let vividness pervade Subsisting on a muddy muck That gets me stuck In the meantime
Alone Is not in vain The tide pushes further While I float In rivers The cold, some bittersweet Swiveling like mad Will it drown
Leave for another To brainwash what’s been conditioned as so A chance holds ground To grip the slipping sand
Experience • Ben Eisenstein I hate it when people leave unmade beds. Those bulges and bunches of blankets could be anything. I always pat them down like I’m an airport security officer, and I’m even looking for some of the same things. But the key difference is that they want it to get rid of these things. I want to put them to use. When I use The Stuff, my friends—well, they used to be my friends— call it a high. I like to call it an experience. And people grow from experience. I see a chair piled with clothes in the corner. A bunch of long sleeved shirts. I don’t have any of those any more. I cut the sleeves off; it’s much easier to get to the arm that way. A warm coat. I eye the coat hungrily; I’ve been so cold lately. I quickly seek out something to hug for warmth and find stuffed animals. Is there something sharp sticking out of that bunny’s neck? No. Stop. Oh my God, what happened to that bunny? Did I do that? I just ripped the head off of a stuffed bunny rabbit, and found nothing but beads. Beads scattering around on the floor; they seem to be trying as hard as they can to get away from me. They’re just like the people I used to be able to trust, who call me addicted. They don’t understand. When somebody eats three times a day, you don’t call him a food addict, do you? When I sit down on the bed, I see a laptop in another part of the room open to a dramatic horror show about a family struggling with the fact that their teenage son is addicted to cocaine. I find it funny how they always portray the “addict” as the main character, but they don’t show his true feelings; they don’t let him dictate the story even though it’s about him. No one lets me tell my side of the story, either. Just like the beads from that bunny, all of my friends ran away from me. A wrapped present catches my eye, and I start to cry. Two days ago, a package arrived from my boyfriend, with a note attached explaining that he couldn’t deal with my “addiction,” and had to get out of this relationship. I looked inside the box and found the picture of me that had been sitting on his desk for the past year. I can’t even stand anymore. I lean against the desk, and I see writing. Mostly drafts; unfinished like the business of my dealer who
got busted the day I ran out. It’s been three days, and I grow more and more desperate with each passing minute. Right by the closet, I see all different kinds of shoes. I remember when I cared about shoes. Something as simple as a pair of shoes could make me happy. Now only one thing can make me happy. I look back to the laptop. It’s funny how much life can be like TV. All of my friends are gone, my life is ruined, and when my parents find out they are going to disown me. I say it makes me happy, but now I know the price of my “happiness.” Now I realize that, when I buy heroin, I’m giving up more than my money. I’m paying with my life.
Her Room • Marnina Harris I sneak up to my usual place in the girl’s room, now that I’ve finished preparing dinner for the family who have yet to come home, and I sit on the old brown stepstool which pains me as I think of the girl’s wonderful life and how she has a family and how I will never be able to say that because I threw mine away. I look up at the girl’s bookshelf; filled with memories. The girl must have great memories to look back on and probably has more to come and my daughter could have had the same if I hadn’t given up so easily on her and how did I not realize that I was falling apart right in front of her eyes and I’m sure the mother of this girl would never let her daughter witness her suffering and I’m sure she would never even be put in that situation because she’s clearly a much better mother than I am or I should say than I was. I then glance at the pictures hanging on the walls. The photographs spit at me with all those happy people and their smug smiling faces taunting me because of my mistakes and because of what I couldn’t provide for my daughter to make her as happy as the girl in these pictures with friends and I bet my daughter has friends of her own that I never met because I was always too busy with my own problems to really care about her and her life and if I could have only gotten my act together before it was too late maybe I would have met her friends and maybe I would even be able to know them now if I had just tried a little harder to get better. I see all the clothes scattered around the girl’s room and tears begin to trickle down my face. My daughter never had nearly this many clothes in her room; hardly even a fraction compared to this girl and that’s my fault too because if I didn’t have so many of my own issues and if I hadn’t had to buy all my prescriptions and paid the bills to all those doctors then I would have had the money to provide clothes for my daughter like this girl has but instead I was ignorant and selfish and I didn’t get a job after my husband left and now even though I do have this job as a cook it’s too late because I’ve already given up trying and now my daughter lives with my sister and they’re the only family I have left and even they refuse to speak to me so I truly have nothing left. I then see the stuffed monkey sitting on the bedside table and that’s when I completely lose my composure. I start balling and I can’t stop because I remember my daughter cuddling with a stuffed monkey just like that when she was about six and
that was the last time I saw her and now she’s thirteen and she still refuses to have any contact with me and it’s like I’m not even her mother anymore; like I’ve been replaced and I bet if I did see her now I wouldn’t even recognize her because it’s been so long and even worse; she probably wouldn’t recognize me either and I should really just give up because she’s the only thing left that matters to me and she’s a complete stranger so why should I even bother anymore. I guess I’m done. I stand up from that old, brown stool; clear any trace of my presence; and head back downstairs before the happy family comes home.
Boldness and disguise. Seemingly opposite qualities. Yet a zebra’s coat embodies them both. A zebra’s stripes are meant to disguise, to help it blend into its herd. But the stark contrast of the black and white stripes can also make a zebra stand out boldly. To belie is a verb that has two opposite meanings: to expose and to disguise. If a word can have opposite meanings, why can’t a zebra? 83
Bartleby Related to Today • Chaim Chernoff I am a rather elderly man. My occupation allows me to work with some of the most interesting and unique people on the planet. Over the last twenty-five years, I have worked with many people that have changed drastically during the progression of our relationship- you see, I am a high school mathematics teacher. Over the course of all of the friendships- friendship being the word that I have been accustomed to call the student-teacher relationship- that I have had, I have noticed that most children tend to change their personalities during their high school careers; however, there was one child in particular that I feel deserves to have his biography written down. That boy’s name is Balthazar. We met on the first day of his senior year in high school, where I would teach him AP Calculus. Since AP Calculus is such a high level of math, there were only two other students in that class. The others were among the most intelligent people in the grade, and, like Balthazar, they both had their own oddities. Tangerine, the only girl of the class, came into the class prepared to learn on Monday, but as the week wore on she steadily lost her vigor, and I would often need to review lessons that I had taught the class on Friday for her. The other boy, Butternut, was the complete inverse of Tangerine: He would sluggishly enter class on Monday, lackadaisically listen to my lesson, and- as far as I could tell- immediately forget everything that I had said. But as the days accumulated, he would enter class with a newly found vigor. To accommodate both of my pupils’ learning styles, I would spend half of each period teaching and then spend the rest of the period giving the students math problems to work through by themselves. I liked to call this time “free study.” The latter half of the period was usually spent in dead silence, so I became accustomed to looking at the wall of my classroom as well as studying the picture that I had hung of Bernhard Riemann. It was during this time of independent study that Balthazar’s oddities began. At the beginning of the year, he would do the problems quietly like all the other students in the class, but this changed by the third week of school. It began on Monday, when, exasperated by the day’s studies, Balthazar called out, “Can we please open one of the blinds?” I refused, explaining that the sunlight casts too much of a glare onto my smartboard, making it unreadable. He then spent the rest of the day looking at each wall for only a moment, then after putting his head down for a minute repeated the process. Tuesday’s free study contained an especially difficult set of problems for which I asked Balthazar to show his work on the board. His answer was said in the least rude, but most defiant of manners possible: “Whatever.” “Balthazar,” I said. “As a student, surely you agree that it would be pedagogically correct for me to ask you to show your work to the class — all students at one time or another will have to, you realize.” “Whatever,” he said as he slumped into his chair.
Realizing that he was not going to do what I had asked today, I asked Tangerine to write her calculations on the board, which she did after some grumblings of the injustice of allowing Balthazar’s insolence to go unpunished. As you might have already guessed, it was a Thursday. I expected that this was an irregular occurrence, and therefore could be ignored. However, as the months passed, the problem only worsened. Eventually Balthazar refused to do the math problems that I assigned him entirely; answering “whatever” to all of my instructions. Being a Monday, this statement was met by complete acrimony by Tangerine who rashly called out, “Send him to the principal’s office! It wouldn’t be fair to keep him in class.” While Butternut, fighting a yawn, said, “Calm down, Tangerine, at least we know he won’t be the curve breaker.” As the days wore on, I continually tried to reason with Balthazar: I asked him politely to do the homework, I threatened him with suspensions; eventually I showed him the D+ he was earning because of his shoddy work ethic. His answer to all of my admonitions: “Whatever.” This response became contagious: “ Butternut, you got a C on last week’s test.” “Whatever” “Tangerine, all the points that you lost on this free response question were from silly mistakes. Pay closer attention to your work.” “Whatever.” Eventually, I realized that Balthazar had become too much of a nuisance in my class and that I had to send him out. A few months later, I learned that he had become a high school dropout. Upon hearing that news I nearly cried. How could such a gifted student become such a failure? One day, I saw him staring at one of the schoolhouse walls that faced the playground. He told me that he planned to get his GED and apply to community college. I asked him if he was happy with his decisions in life. His answer, uttered without any emotion, not only answered the question that I had asked him at that moment but also the one that had been swimming in my head since I heard about his departure from high school: “Whatever.”
Stream of Consciousness • Doni Eisenstein I tentatively push open the white door of his bedroom. The floor is so covered with clothes you can’t even see the hard wood floors. A formerly grey sweatshirt crusted to the floor almost trips me. Guys are always so messy. Leaving their messes for others to clean up. Yet the maternal instinct to pick the sweatshirt up and put it in his hamper grows inside of me. Ewww! Eleven empty cans of soda scattered throughout the room. Does anyone realize how bad soda is for his body? The amounts of toxins and chemicals inside a single bottle are atrocious. I won’t even allow
that garbage inside my apartment much less in the people I care about. A paintball gun is discarded in the back of his closet. He is only steps away from owning a real gun. The violence that could come of that is unfathomable for a mother. The articles people read about teenagers being shot and killed in drive-bys. The flowers on street corners of the ‘hood and poor neighborhoods. He doesn’t realize how fortunate he is. He should treasure his life and not venture into the darkness that comes with succumbing to violence. A pair of black boxing gloves with worn out Velcro from being put on and taken off frequently. People pay money to watch UFC. Watching men in cages beating each other to the brink of death. It’s nauseating. Inhumane even. Life is something that he should not waste, not like I did. His desk is filled with textbooks worn out from overuse. He has a good education. Something that was never offered to me, a high school dropout. Only his white collar parents could afford to send him to a private school. A place for over achievers that learn beyond the normal school hours of public schools. He probably is learning multiple foreign languages. Why do people need to learn another language when in America people speak English? Hours wasted memorizing words that sound like gibberish. If the opportunity even arises to use that new language, he will probably be laughed at for pronouncing the words wrong, speaking slowly, or having an American accent. He probably doesn’t even realize all the amazing opportunities that will be available to him though. That all those nights he stays up until the sun rises studying for tests are worth it because he will be able to make something out of himself. Get a job. His own office with his name on the door. A degree from an Ivy League school. He will take it all for granted. Does he not realize how his parents just wish for him to succeed and will give him all the tools to make it possible? Why not me? All those choices I made and the moments I took for granted led me to the place I am now. I was never able to give him everything he needed, so I gave him to someone who could.
The Ballad of Lonesome Man • Gavi Kutliroff Under every man’s pen, a silenced heart screams For ‘society’ knows not of Lonesome Man’s dreams His nights are eternal, spent fretting away The hours in which a child once played A child murdered by time and ‘maturity’ Limitless thought crushed by singular surety Vanity pokes through the flash of his smile And his feet feel like miles and miles and miles
Lonesome Man wakens in familiar sweat ‘Cause sleep hasn’t settled on Lonesome Man yet No, sleep is a prize for the ‘fortunate son’ And Lonesome Man is an unfortunate one Unwillingly forfeiting all his control Lonesome Man lives in a ‘student’s’ (slave’s) role His desperate objections are all but unseen Under every man’s pen, a silenced heart screams.
Should Rumpelstiltskin Be Considered a Villain? • Tamara Soleymani Classifying Rumpelstiltskin as villain is a cruel injustice. As a 14-year-old girl, my days of fairy tales ended not too long ago. I am a dedicated reader and have read multiple versions of the fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin. I also plan to become a lawyer and have a passion for justice. Rumpelstiltskin is a compassionate man who does random acts of kindness, and is taken advantage of when a maiden defies the deal formed between them. Rumpelstiltskin is an innocent man. He strikes a deal with a maiden that entitles him to the first-born child of the maiden and the king in exchange for his help spinning gold. Rumpelstiltskin is kind enough to offer help to the poor, young, blameless girl who would have been murdered because of her father’s gloating and ego. After the child is born to the king and queen, the queen has enough nerve to deny Mr. Rumpelstiltskin his reward. Rumpelstiltskin is always depicted as a cruel, heartless man separating a beloved queen from her first, and only, newborn child. However, in truth he is just a honest man who expects someone of such a high stature, like the queen, to be sincere. Every night, sweet, impressionable, little children are reading this story. They are learning that dishonesty is acceptable and that women are always the victims. According to Ross D. Parke and K. Alison Clarke-Stewart, two psychology professors at the University of California, children whose parents were incarcerated have higher suspension and dropout rates. This shows that what we learn at a young age, especially from our parents, has a great effect on our standards in life. Just as the children of prisoners are more likely to drop out of or be suspended from school, so too if we read our children Rumpelstiltskin we lower their standards to believing that being unethical and sexist is acceptable. Is this what our society has come to, teaching our children to violate agreements and regard women as helpless victims? Some people might say that Rumpelstiltskin asked for too big of a reward. But there is no record of the maiden disagreeing. She could have counter-offered and haggled for something less extreme. Moreover, one might argue that Rumpelstiltskin was never asked to help; he simply appeared and offered his assistance. The maiden was offered aid and was not forced to accept Rumpelstiltskin’s help. On the other hand, one could say that the maiden was too young to know what she was accepting and that she was in a life or death scenario — Rumpelstiltskin took advantage of her. Yet, Rumpelstiltskin offered her a way out of that life or death situation, and everyone should always consider the consequences before agreeing to a deal. If this story continues to be read we will be corrupting our future leaders. Our children are the future leaders of the world. Shouldn’t we make sure to raise every single one of those small, vulnerable children with the correct morals? This story does the exact opposite of that. It assures our children that it is acceptable to null contracts and to treat the women in their lives as weak, helpless beings. In twenty years from now, those children will grow up and pursue careers. Do we
want people with those ethics to be our lawyers, senators, and anyone else who will represent us? Imagine the way life will ultimately be if women lose their equality and agreements are broken without a second thought. We will not just be misjudging an innocent fictional character if we let this story be read, but we will be polluting our childrens minds with offensive principles to live by.
A Single Sound • Tali Pelts Glazing over It comes and goes I say Caught in the interim: words evade a previously proved expression A thought of truth returns Tests anew What is the cymbal that clinks for just one Is it evanescent
Of all I know The words they return Stricken horror never really leaves its home In my heart and reasons for ruin Anxiously awaiting disaster The plastic figurines sitting beside Fall again
Dear Sir • Frances Miller Dear Sir: Nowadays the blokes and ladies in the papers think that it’s their job to act like headshrinks. Well, that ain’t right, sir. What was the bloody title of your bloody article? Oh yes, “When sudden subway murder strikes, asking: are there any heroes?” What ninconpoopery the papers try to sell today, talking ethics around the tea table like they’re the queen of England. Lets just say you’re an ordinary chap. You’ve had a bit of fun out drinking, and who’s to care what you do with your liver? So you’re down at the station, waiting for a subway, having yourself a bit of fun being loud and rude. And some bloke comes over to you, thinking he’s real fine, and talks to you like you’re worse than the dirt under his shoe. Are you telling him not to defend his bloody honor? Are you telling him he can’t taste his own bloody rage? Jesus, I thought this was some free country you’re tryin’ to sell! So what if he gives the little twerp a shove? So what if that shove lands the guy on the tracks? So what if the train’s coming right at him? You’d call him a murderer, but I call him a man. You see, the way I sees it, men are like a coin toss. They’ve got the brain and the instinct in them. Most have got ‘em pretty even, most might even have a bit stronger of the brain, but then there’s always them blokes who’ve got a mighty bit o’ instinct. An’ its folks like you, always expecting that coin to land on heads. All I can tell you is don’t ever go to Monaco, cause there’ll be some lucky men walking off with your money. And the thing about you always expecting that brain part of people to show up and save the
day is that you’re all so damn bloody surprised when it doesn't. So what if this man was struggling to get off of the train tracks? So what if nobody risked their skin to help him? Your beloved G-d flipped his coins all right, and that day they all landed on tails! You newpapers expect this world to be so bloody perfect, huh? Well why don’t we separate that brain and that instinct. We’ll have them brains have their philosophical arguments, while the instinct can go around having his fun. That way this world wouldn’t bloody confuse you so much. Instinct, that poor bloke. Why’d you always have to paint him as a bad guy. You papers, you always give him such uncivilized names. Villain. Murderer. Evil. Well then, what do you think of me? One day I was walking down the street and so was a little girl and I’m entitled to use the bloody sidewalk just as well as she is and so I didn’t stop. I walked right over her. And you people, you think I’m sick. But I’m free. You call this land the land of the free but I’m freer than all of you. You don’t want to bump into me sir, because I can’t promise you it won’t be bloody, Mr. Hyde
Shadow • Shira Ben-David This story was inspired by a scuplture in Skokie’s scupture park I have escaped. It has been three months since I was let out of Cook County Jail. The sweet scent of spring fills my nose and my mind is at rest again. My mind is constantly filled with memories of that night, the night I killed the homeless woman. I try to console myself. It’s okay James, you were just trying to live as your family does. You just want to be like the rest of them. All you want is to fit into the killing family you were born into. But that rarely seems to soothe my distraught mind. I am not a killer, just a man who performed the act of killing. Wait, that doesn’t make any sense. I am a killer, but I know I do not want to be one. Expectations surround me. Ever since the day I was born I was destined to be a serial killer. My brothers had a plan to raise me to follow in their footsteps. I was born with my fate decided. There was no way for me to escape the shadows of my siblings and parents. The shadows followed me everywhere I went. I had the devil constantly on my shoulder telling who to kill and when. Disregarding my “evil shadow” was easy for me. I would go out during the day and come home telling horrific murder stories that everyone believed. My family was proud of me and no one dared to challenge me; I was the family’s pride and joy. On the gloomy night of January seventh, my brother Tim decided to come out with me to evaluate my kill and run technique. We were walking through a dark alley when he told me, “Kill the first person you see.” I could not flake out in front of my brother. He wanted a human dead, any human for that matter. My family’s motto has always been “Kill or be killed”. If I did not make that happen, I would be the one dead. So I stepped into the dark ominous shadow my family has
established for me and I shot a homeless woman lying on a blue and green-checkered blanket. My brother darted away, leaving me alone in the dark alley with the woman I had just murdered. The dim lighting from the building made my shadow seem monstrous and evil. As I stared at my reflection on the crumbling, rusty, brown brick wall I decided that I needed to escape the overbearing shadow of my family. I needed to get away and be my own man. Killing was not for me. I was formulating my abscond when suddenly I heard a piercing siren. Red Light. Blue Light. Siren. Flashing lights surrounded me and sirens filled my ears. I was caught. Without argument, I took my time in jail. My family lost contact with me, for they didnâ€™t want to jeopardize their career and lifestyle. The years in jail seemed like a lifetimeâ€Ś No-one visited, neither a family member nor friend. Just four white walls and me. I had a lot of time to think and reflect and decide what my future would be. I decided to be kind and to appreciate everything G-d created. Killing would never be an option again. All I wanted was to get out and enjoy the world in my way, in a peaceful loving manner. Years went by, and my time in that jail cell finally ended. Now, I am a free man. I try to fill my days with small outings. The little things in life excite me as I try to wash away my horrific upbringing. I take walks in parks and stroll around the city just breathing in the cool air. I walk through Sculpture Park and try to find inspiration, something to keep me going. Meaningless sculptures everywhere. As I am about to turn away and leave a big rusty ball catches my eye. Excitedly, I walk towards the sculpture and see large chains intertwined, creating a circular model. I am intrigued. I have never seen anything quite like it. The detailing is magnificent. I see my life depicted in a sculpture. The chains remind me of the chains that controlled me in jail. The rusty steel chains turn and intertwine in a circular structure making me see the circle of life that my family has created. I am just another link on one of those chains. A link difficult to find and hard to open. Although I am no longer a killer, I am not different; I am still part of the chain. While my thoughts run in circles around this structure I notice the opening on top. I realize that there is a way out of this life. I can change from being a link and from being just a part of the structure. The opening gives me hope; it pushes me to new thoughts and helps me try to forget my past. I am finally at ease and decide to step away from the sculpture with the hopes of returning home with a nice thought. As I walk away I see the small post with the name of the sculpture and its artist. The
sculpture is named Shadow and the creator is Lucy Slivinski. My mind runs wild. The woman I killed was named Lucy. My whole life was spent running from my own shadow, and now consisted of trying to forget everything I had done. But shadows never leave your side and memories never fade.
An Oscillation • Tali Pelts Underneath the pages We are plunged into lives both vicarious and truer than most Travels to ruined cities and those rebuilt Falling underwater, off our rafts that we float on with runaway slaves We throw memory to the wind and words into a blazing fire At a place where reality fluctuates, neither here nor there Aren’t we all part of a reckless species
Charger I and II • Josephine Gendler This story was inspired by a scuplture in Skokie’s scupture park Naomi didn’t care much for going to the park. She would rather stay home and watch TV, play with her Barbies, and draw. But one summer day Grandma decided that her six-year-old granddaughter ought to get some exercise and promised to give her cookies if she went on a walk through Sculpture Park with Grandma. The park was narrow, less than a block wide, and several blocks long. The sculptures were scattered throughout the park and could easily be viewed from the pathways that weaved between the trees. Naomi was not interested in the sculptures once she found out that she wasn’t allowed to climb on them, and it took Grandma many cookies to keep her going. Suddenly, Naomi stopped and stood totally still, gazing with complete fascination, like a child watching a construction site, at two sculptures, one reddish-orange and one purple. They were of horses galloping with their tails streaming out behind them, yet they stood completely still. They had a metallic sheen that made them shine brighter in the sunlight. Grandma waited patiently for awhile to allow her granddaughter to appreciate the art, then urged her, “Come on honey, let’s go.” “No,” Naomi didn’t even turn her head. “Why not?” “Horsies,” she explained. It took Grandma a lot of coaxing to drag her away for more cookies and exercise. After that encounter, Naomi begged and begged for riding lessons, and finally her parents granted her weekly riding lessons as a seventh birthday present. She loved her riding lessons. She
would look forward to her trip to the stable all week long. After a year of learning how to walk, trot, and canter on various ponies, her instructor informed her that she would get to ride a “real” horse. At first Naomi was afraid, after all, a horse is much taller than a pony, but then she met Charger. He was a tall, reddish-brown Thoroughbred with a long, sweeping tail. His ears were a bit small, but his eyes were large and gentle. His coat had an almost metallic sheen. He carried his head high and greeted her with a deep whinny. The first time she rode him, she felt as if she were flying. He was fast, yet his movements were smooth. When she rode him in the outdoor arena in the evening his coat seemed to shine bronze in the last rays of the sun. Soon, Naomi refused to ride any horse but Charger. Five years later, Naomi was competing at the Illinois Youth Show Jumping Championship (IYSJC) on Charger. She wasn’t nervous, just excited, because she knew what a great team she and Charger were. The jumps were tall and unfamiliar and the competition was fierce. Naomi rode Charger through the course and tied for first with four other girls. They all jumped the course again, and only Naomi and one other girl were left in a tie. Naomi went out to jump a third time. She asked Charger for his best, and he gave it, hooves flying, tail streaming out behind him, coat shining in the sunlight. They not only cleared every jump, but also set the fastest time in IYSJC history. The blue ribbon hardly meant a thing to Naomi once she found out about the prize money. Five thousand dollars! Surely she could buy Charger for that amount. Almost dizzy with delight that soon Charger would be her very own, Naomi wove her way through to the crowd towards Mr. McEllen, the man who owned both the stable where she rode and most of the lesson horses, including Charger. She found him just as he was shaking hands with another man, who promptly left. “Good job Naomi!” he congratulated her. “I’m very proud of you. You really were the right person to show off Charger’s talents.” “Thanks,” she said. “Speaking of Charger, I… I want to buy him. I’ve got five thousand dollars now and I want to spend them on the horse I won them with.” “Oh,” Mr. McEllen chuckled. “I’m afraid you can’t do that. Thanks to you, I just got an offer from a man who’ll pay fifteen grand for Charger! Gave me a check and said he’ll take the horse right away. Don’t worry,” he stopped smiling when he saw her face fall. “We’ve got plenty of other horses for you to ride.” Naomi turned without responding and ran to the stalls. But Charger was already gone. Despite all her attempts to find and contact the man who had bought him, they never spoke, and Naomi never saw that great bronze horse again. And without Charger, Naomi refused to ride. She put her prize money in a savings account and vowed never to spend it until she found Charger again. One day many years later, Naomi sat in the passenger seat of her friend Daphne’s pick-up truck. The two had met in college and were still friends three years after graduating. The week
before, Naomi told Daphne about Charger for the first time. Daphne was thrilled, she’d never known that Naomi could also ride and she’d convinced Naomi to come along to see her horse, which she kept at a boarding barn. Despite Naomi’s protests that she would never ride again, Daphne had insisted. The parking lot was empty of people except for two men conversing next to a horse trailer. Daphne led Naomi up to the fence of a large pasture where a handful of horses grazed. She pointed out her horse and they talked for a while. Suddenly they heard a loud neigh back in the parking lot. They turned around to see one of the men holding a tall, pale grayish Thoroughbred with a long, sweeping tail. His ears were a bit small, but his eyes were large and gentle. His coat had an almost metallic sheen. He carried his head high and greeted them with a deep whinny. The two men were arguing, and one man walked away from the other, got in his car, and left. The man left with the horse looked upset. Naomi and Daphne walked over him. “I drove across three states with this horse to sell him to that man,” he told them. “And now the guy just walked out on me! Said five grand was too much to ask for. But I can’t afford to sell him for any lower.” Naomi looked at the horse the man was holding and felt a sudden wave of nostalgia for the horse she used to ride. She remembered the prize money she had earned so long ago and the promise she had made when she put it in a savings account. “I’ll take him,” she told the man. “Five grand.” Daphne’s jaw dropped. “Does the barn have any empty stalls?” Naomi turned to Daphne. “Yes, they’re always happy to rent out another one,” Daphne answered, still bewildered. As Naomi led her new purchase to the stable to find him a stall, Daphne asked, “Why?” “He reminds me of someone I used to know,” Naomi smiled. “A horse I used to ride.” “Well, what’s his name going to be?” “Charger.” And when the sunlight hit the horse’s coat, it shone almost purple, like one of the sculptures that first inspired Naomi to ride so many years ago. A letter to you: Goodbye. Say hi. • Avi Asher Go away, don’t return, I ask and plead. I see you and the wind twisting away. We were once close friends, living happily, Eventually it will stop, finally. But a cursed wind blew you away indeed. Moving on, opportunities each day, I never saw the end in forever. But I can’t: For I recall you and me. Please excuse me for hating this cursed fee. Waves come and leave, but your wave made me Please, one day, repay me for my struggles. numb. Never again will that foul wind use me. Tell the Devil hi; go back to where he’s from It’s not worth my pain to go through scuffles.
The Shadow Game • Brocha Shanes You hurry down the muddy street, the action a habit by now. Holding your umbrella close to your head, you splash along the cobblestone, blinking at the flickering blue lights in the distance that mark your destination. You notice that it tends to rain when you go to the café on evenings such as these, pouring harder and harder until you reach the small side door that lies to the side of the large, bright sign that reads, as familiar as ever, Le Café des Rêves. You smile and walk inside. One glance at the clock tells you that once again you are late for work. Elena already has her coat on, nearly covering her dark T-shirt. She glares at you as she hands you the keys to the building and stalks through the same door you just entered. You sigh and look around the seemingly ancient café. Not many people remain here at this time of night. At a table near the center of the room, a man bids a woman goodbye before he leaves the café, his light skin and large facial features mocking the woman’s dark, delicate ones. In the corner, a man occupies one of the rickety chairs, a large newspaper obscuring his face. You can just barely make out the title of the paper: Der Volksblatt. An odd title, for this time and place, but you are used to seeing things of the most peculiar fashion by now. In time you have discovered that the most unusual happenstances can occur at Le Café de Rêves. Now comes the best part of the evening. All emotions may escape you as you sink to the ground behind the wooden counter. Now you are but a shadow, and your only responsibility is to listen. Suddenly the door opens, causing the soft jingle made by the strings of seashells positioned over the entryway. You cannot help but peek around the corner to see who has entered. You may have to get up to serve the stranger. But you immediately realize that you do not, though stranger she is. You take note of the woman, whose white blouse and gray shirt look out of place as they clash against her dark skin. Her boots are so worn with dirt that you cannot make out their original color, and her dark hair is tied back by a frayed red ribbon. She one of the Peculiar Ones, and they do not usually need to be served. A Peculiar’s presence leads you to presume that tonight will be an interesting one. The woman walks up to the table by the back wall where a journalist sits typing busily, hardly aware that she has a visitor. But she is quickly disturbed. “Hello, Rachel Simon. My name is Ilana. I know all about you, but you do not know anything about me. You will, however, in time.” She slides herself into the seat opposite Rachel. “Um . . .” Rachel looks unsure of whether to be afraid or puzzled. “Can I help you?” “Yes, Ms. Simon. You can be very helpful, I’m afraid.” Rachel slowly closes her laptop but keeps her hand firmly planted on top of her papers as if she is afraid Ilana might steal it. “You
see,” Ilana begins with a sweeping motion of her hand, “I am here as a messenger of the Old Man. I am from the Movement, if you like.” “I’m sorry? What-“ “Ah, so you have never heard of the Movement? I will tell you now.” And for the next hour that lasts an eternity, your ears are filled with Ilana’s musical voice and words of the Jewish people rising from their place of fear and, for the first time in history, causing others to fear them. Her voice, though discussing a brutal war, fills you with hope and promise, and for a moment it is your dearest desire to join this Movement. But these thoughts abruptly cease as Rachel finally speaks. “I’m sorry, but I still can’t see what this has to do with me.” “Oh, but it has everything to do with you.” Ilana pauses before adding in a dramatic tone that you are sure she is aware of, “I need you to join our Movement. Rachel Simon, we require your future.” Rachel stares at Ilana, speechless. She looks down at her large stack of paper covered in blue ink, and when her eyes finally meet Ilana’s again, she opens her mouth to speak. “Ilana, I have never seen you before in my life. I am an extremely busy woman with more work than you can imagine. I have no idea how you know me, which by the way I do plan on discovering. But I do not plan on throwing away my life for a Movement I have never even heard of, simply to assist a complete stranger.” But Ilana is not one to give up quickly. “Rachel, you are Jewish, are you not?” Rachel nods. “Then wouldn’t you consider it your duty to sacrifice some part of yourself for the greater good of your entire nation? Do you not feel anything for others? It is obvious to me that you are too concerned with your work, with your precious papers and gadgets, to assist us in what may be the most important war in history.” It is then that Rachel removes her hand from her stack of papers. She looks Ilana directly in the eye, and you prepare for her to answer, “I’m sorry, yes, of course I will join.” But she does nothing of the kind. “Ilana, do you know what this is?” She points to the papers, not waiting for Ilana to answer. “This is a collection of notes and ideas gathered from memories of last year’s events, which included an unforgettable, life-changing experience. Would you, who claim that I don’t know the meaning of sacrifice, like to hear what that experience was?” Ilana simply laughs. “All right, my dear. Tell me what you have done.” Rachel’s voice quivers with determination as she says, “For an entire year, I ceased my work and instead spent the time riding the city buses with my sister. You think that was easy? She also happens to have mental retardation, and for years our relationship was a struggle to. But I made
that dedication, I made that sacrifice, and yet you speak to me as if I do nothing for others. And to think you claimed to know everything about me!” Ilana’s eyes narrow slightly, but she does not seem especially fazed by Rachel’s comments. She points to the black woman sitting a few tables away. “You see her?” Rachel does not answer. “That is LaJoe Rivers.” The woman looks up at the sound of her name, though you suspect she has joined your shadow game and has been listening all along. “She lives among death and crime and shootings every day, and though she is raising her many children in the depths of poverty, she does not give up on them. And you think your sacrifice is so righteous, so great?” LaJoe lowers her eyes and clutches her mug tightly. From your position, it is a bit difficult to distinguish all of her movements but you move closer in her direction, not wanting to miss a single word or action. Rachel looks uncomfortable but eventually asks LaJoe across the room in a soft voice that sounds forced, “Is this true?” You do not know if Rachel is attempting to disprove Ilana or if she is genuinely curious. LaJoe nods, eyes still cast into her full cup of coffee. “Yes’m,” she mumbles. You notice that despite the movement of her eyes, LaJoe’s posture is still straight and proper. You marvel at her novel way of displaying pride; silence is obviously power. Ilana nods. “Poor dear. You have had a difficult time, have you not?” LaJoe seems more at ease talking to Ilana than to Rachel. “I cared for my babies as best I could. I let their friends and boyfriends stay in the house and went out gambling at night just so I could have enough to feed ‘em. And anything extra, that all went to their presents. It – it ain’t easy.” The woman seems unable to say more. “Poor dear,” Ilana repeats. LaJoe looks up at her for an instant; then her eyes trail back to her mug. Ilana turns back to Rachel, seemingly remembering her initial task. “I am very disappointed, Rachel. We were very much looking forward to your arrival and assistance. But, alas . . . I cannot help others’ mistakes.” Rachel simply sits with her lips pursed and her hand once again resting on her papers. There is silence, except for the slight rustling of the man’s newspaper. Ilana rises from her seat. “I must go now. Gad is waiting for me.” But then you suppose she might have said, “G-d is waiting for me.” Either way, her intentions are clear. Dawn is breaking, and it is time for her to leave and for you to cease being a shadow. The sun’s bright, early-morning rays are beginning to burst through the window. You rise from your hiding place and grab your coat. You look about the café, searching for the Peculiars, but they are gone. The café is at last empty, save for a frayed red ribbon lying on the floor.
Published on May 23, 2013