The Crescent’s Gift


A poem in celebration of Rosh Chodesh Tammuz written by by dear friend Julie Oscherwitz Grant.

We store inside 

Our feelings, thoughts

Distilled from moments dark and light.

The light pours in, it dances, floats

To settle in on wispy clouds

And warms all that it comes across.


Through no made choice

Or thru an action, choshech comes,

Darkness spills.

It washes over, penetrates

In maze-like fashion

Seeps and spreads

And seemingly obliterates

The marshmallow light 

Sweet warm and bright.

The inky weight of heavy times

Can wield its force 

Weigh down our bones,

And wrestle hope

And glee until

They’re out of sight

And feel and reach.

As we, the women, celebrate

Our gift of ushering each new moon

We must, and can, uniquely

Face the whole of history


As is our sacred Jewish way.

Tammuz, when viewed from start

To last

Encompasses the whole of life

With blessings, courage, miracles

And falls from grace to deep despair.

We enter it rejoicing from

Receiving our most sacred gift

The Torah, work of light and truth

But stored in memory, women most,

We know life flows through cycles, 

Circles, watch the slivery moon evolve

And feel each season reignite

The past, the trials, joys,

We pray, reread, retell 

And fast, our deepest dig of all.

So come Tammuz, with Av to follow

We see darkness looming near

Our inner vessels, holders, selves

Prepare to open and admit

Reflection on our darkest times

As one we face the broken tablets,

shattered lives, Temple burned.

We note on 16th of Tammuz

Moses’ delay in coming down

To bring our people sacred words

wreaks havoc, shakes our people’s faith

Resulting in the golden calf.

So many yield, the urge too strong

(Though women, cool, unwavering,

Hold back their jewels, do not succumb

A midrash says their recognition

For not letting idols reign

Was to command they celebrate 

Rosh Chodesh, their unique domain.

Another date, the third Tammuz

Saw battle raging in our land

As darkened skies approached,Yehoshua

 took charge, and pled his case

‘O Sun stand still over Gibeon’

And moon over the valley near

To conquer enemies we need

The light, and so Hashem obliged.

In chapter 10 of Joshua is written

That the sun stood still and later,

That before or since, there’s been no day

When heard the Lord the voice of man

And heeded him. A onetime wondrous 

Happening, between a man and the divine.

One more of many dates to mark

In Tammuz, loss of one so wise

Revered, a guide, the Rebbe

Menachem Mendel Schneerson who

Among his many teachings said

Find and fulfill your life’s mission,

Answer evil’s force with love,

And reach your hand to every Jew.

Lord Rabbi Sacks once said his presence

Left you feeling humble, blessed.

So we remember and reflect

Let prayers and stories freely flow

And stir our souls, each her own way

As in the month we mark this day.

Our lives abound with moments linked

One to the next, though oft they meld

But some stand out, stand tests of time

And come alive to be re-faced.

My father’s Jewish learning path

Wove through the rituals we know

But his lament was that it lacked

The depths and heights our souls could reach

The learning rote, the meaning missed

Delicious soup but souls adrift.

The richness, wisdom there to plumb

He couldn’t feel, absorb

Needing an interpreter

To make the sacred moments real.

To delve, and feel authentically

The joy, the wonder, and despair

Evoked through focused, earnest prayer.

Or discourse, lively, challenging

Impassioned, Hillel, Shammai style,

Encased in reverence, love, respect.

Oh, as we traverse life’s array

Of challenges, pursuits, travails

We face a choice, dive in, observe

Brave inky depths, soar joyfully

And sometimes glide and coast along

A taste of this, a test of that, engaging

In what comes our way, and then at times

We rest, reflect, and search the skies

Our spirits rise, the moon’s aglow,

It wanes and waxes, circling

The earth, reminding as it goes

That like it, we too move, renew

From full to halved and then at last

Behold! Luminous crescent comes.

We wish all peace; time’s guide, this orb’s

Our moment, women, to absorb.

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One comment

  1. Timeless communication that honors our moment within Torah. Thank you ~