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Prayers for a New Israel

Dayanu we say
it would have been enough
here we are
as a people
Divided
Split like the Red Sea
We are our books and holy garments
we have been slaves
we have been slaughtered
All of that runs through our veins
On our doorposts

We make a Seder table
Lay out bowls of salted water
Bitter herb
Horseradish
that will bring tears to our eyes
brighten the muscle of our hearts

We were slaves
We were victims

They tried to overtake us
we stood in our resilience
Even when we collapse
Watching the smoke rising up
the screams from
gas chambers
We hid each other
Reached out for each other
Quietly prayed
Yelled
fought back

Dayanu
Dayanu

We sat in our sukkah
Bottles of wine and celebration
Still staining the table cloth

Where were you when you heard

October 7
Dayanu

I read the news
See the horror
My body is frozen
My legs so heavy
I am afraid
In a way I never have known before

Dayanu
Dayanu

I hear my grandmothers
Whispering
In my ears
They grab at my shoulders
They cry

Dayanu
Dayanu

I have marched for black lives
For every freedom and peoples
Loved lived and called family
With those from across the globe
They are all silent now
No one reaches out
No one offers words of comfort

Dayanu
Dayanu

They are hurting Jews all over the world
Attacking us
Calling us names

Dayanu
Dayanu

Our children
Who are American first
Lovers of sports, words, politics
Helping others
Understand for the first time
They are Jews

Dayanu
Dayanu

The children
and
Some of us
Put on big Jewish stars
Bravely
Defiantly
Understanding what it is to be tribe
A people

Dayanu
Dayanu

No one offers condolence at our shiva
They pound on the door
say ugly things
We are in mourning
We are in shock
How can this be happening?

Dayanu
Daynau

still they hate us
with indifference
Malice
I try to see it
The way they do

What we seem like to them
Why it enrages
Brings violence
How it is that
Compassion is for everyone else
For us
Cold staring eyes

Dayanu
Dayanu

We are tribe
A family
clinging to the skirts of our mothers
All the way back to the cave of the
Machpelah

Dayanu
Dayanu

Even before
We heard a heartbeat
It’s rhythm
One
Sound
Beating
Echoing into the universe of planets and stars

Dayanu
Dayanu

One that is nameless
formless
Beyond idol or image
Do not grasp
That is our truth
they slaughtered us for it
Enslaved us
Again and again

Dayanu
Dayanu

Time stretching out
The way misery does
In a house of yelling
Of punishment

Dayanu
Dayanu

We freed ourselves
Split the sea
Traveled across deserts
Went to law school
Became your doctors
Business men
Artists
And still
And still

Dayanu
Dayanu

Yellow armbands
Yellow flowers on the Seder plate

Dayanu
Dayanu

We are yelling amongst each other
Some say to be quiet
Well behaved
Some say fight back
still we are just children in the world
Standing in our parents oversized coats
Shoes miles too big

Dayanu
Dayanu

The young ones have taken over the colleges
The places we
Used to have discourse
Share ideas
They yell “ kill the Jews”
Push our children as they walk to class
the teachers, boards, presidents
Are silent
Or worse

Dayanu
Dayanu

Returning to an instant
When we couldn’t join country clubs
Be rightfully promoted at universities
Or when the great America
watched silently
Their great doors closed to us
As millions of us screamed
At the exit
To the chambers of death

Dayanu
Dayanu

Break the matzah
Drink the afikomen
It takes all kinds
Those who stood up
With guns
brave hearts
those who quietly and loudly
cried out to god
That is what makes a Mishpacha
A family
All those souls
Longing for freedom
For redemption

Dayanu
Dayanu

May it come quick
May it come easy

Dayanu
Dayanu

So all the generations
Can gather in peace
Lifting the old grapes
In ancient cups

Dayanu
Dayanu

Listening to the sound of our ancestors
The place we have been knocking on
The door to our birthright
Nestled in the ribs of our chest

Next year in JERUSALEM
In land holy
In land safe
In land free

Dayanu.

About Rivkah Bacharach

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