Two readings for Passover

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Many Jews who come to this site are struggling with how to reconcile the majestic liberation story of Passover with Jewish sovereignty in Israel and Palestine and its blind consecration by American Jewish organizations. As someone who has strived, in my own little way, to reconcile living religious ritual with devotion to the human rights of those now condemned to bondage, Palestinians, I’d offer these two readings, provided to me by Jewish friends.

First, from Laurie Arbeiter and the other creative folks at We Will Not Be Silent, a variation on the central teaching of the Passover, the Four Questions:

Four questions
Four questions

And last night at my Seder, I was privileged to read aloud from the late poet Adrienne Rich, her poem Collaborations, Stanza III (published in 2006), addressed to Israeli poets:

Do you understand why I want your voice?

At the seder table it’s said

you reclined and said nothing
now in the month of Elul is your throat so dry

your dreams so stony
you wake with their grit in your mouth?

[italic] There was a beautiful life here once
Our enemies poisoned it? [end italic]

Make a list of what’s lost but don’t
call it a poem

that’s for the scriptors of nostalgia
bent to their copying-desks

Make a list of what you love well
Twist it insert it

into a bottle of old Roman glass
go to the edge of the sea

at Haifa where the refugee ships lurched in
and the ships of deportation wrenched away

I learned that Rich’s poem was a source of controversy and anguish among Israelis. And when she died last year, Electronic Intifada honored her. Ben Doherty:

During her activist career, Adrienne Rich was involved with New Jewish Agenda which broke Zionist taboos around Palestinian existence and right to speak. In 2009, she endorsed the Palestinian call for academic and cultural boycott of Israel despite having reservations…

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