Monday, December 10, 2007

Love is blind

Scared and brave
with long white cane she steps
into winter's blinding morning.

she will do great things. . .

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A poem

I fashioned from myself
a poem of despair.
I labored hard
and breathed my soul
into her nostrils.
when she awoke
she was like any other poem.

So I sent my poem away,
to teach her
what sadness means.
I released her,
with my anger in a sack upon her shoulder,
to endure a lonely voyage
from desolate star to star,
through infinite spaces
of absolute darkness.

She needed
to feel skins of planets
ravaged by rocks,
to know emptiness,
to hear silence,
breathe cold cosmic winds,
and experience absolute smallness.

Years since,
she returned to me
tears flowing from every syllable,
weeping with every word,
each stanza filled
with what I had sent her for.

She begged me to take her back,
embrace her as before;
bring her into my home,
keep her warm, as my own.

Yet her tears frightened me,
her understanding mocked me,
her sorrow grated me --
Her suffering was not my suffering.
Her loneliness -- no longer mine.

I had thought of killing her,
-- murder with an axe --
and burying her remains
beneath my house.
But, years ago,
she had taken
my anger with her.

So, I sold her instead
to a far-away journal,
for only a few cents a word --

I bartered her into bondage,
made her a common whore
servicing some lonely old man
who just needed someone
to jerk his tear in the dark.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Monday, September 11, 2006

Being One

We used to be 1 -
a strong, entrenched flagpost on an Iwo Jima.
Self-contained, irreducable One,
indivisible, under the God of numbers.

Then something happened --
defying explanations and in clear violation
of eternal laws, --
two (a wh0re of a number).

And as two,
we were square-rooted into irrationality,
forced to seek even-numbered happiness
with any willing partner.

But memories of being One
still hang over our heads --
we are still
of each other.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


A lemon shriveled in the sun,
sits someone -- once a woman.
Her womanly juices have long since evaporated,
expelled with years of blood and tears.
A sexless creature of day-to-day worries.

I wonder what is in her heart of hearts.
I worry that she is my future mother,
and my future wife.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Somewhere over the rainbow...

Somewhere over the rainbow, in another world,
we walk together, hand in hand, and share a lemonade drink.
We have faith in the power of dreams,
think that everything can be fixed,
that for every problem there is a perfectly good solution.

Somewhere. Over the mythical rainbow.
Not in this world.
In this one we cry, sigh, apologize,
suspend dreams, un-dream them.

There, over the rainbow,
we trust a perfect stranger with a nice smile.

Here, we know better. . .

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Looking down at the moon

On the plane last week,
I looked down and saw the red moon under the wings.
Very strange experience to see yourself literally over the moon.

And she swears that the moon
don't hang qutie as high as it used to

And she only sleeps when it's raining

And she screams,
and her voice is straining
And she says
'Baby, it's 3 am I must be lonely'
Well heaven she says 'Baby, Well I can't help but be scared of it all sometimes,
And the rain's gonna wash away what I believe in'

Sunday, August 06, 2006

PostSecret and Tisha B'Av

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Dreams, re-dreamed

"If you're happy in a dream, Ammu, does that count?" Estha asked.

"Does what count?"

"The happiness - does it count?"

She knew exactly what he meant, her son with his his spoiled puff. Because the truth is, that only what counts counts.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Qana, Lebanon

The usual hypocrites cry
Crime and Massacre,
and charred young bodies
are thrown into a hasty ditch;

History's tank tracks
roll over laughs and anger,
erasing color,
stopping hearts mid-beat,
and leaving pale former faces
in AP photos --

as we play swivel-chair generals,
and enjoy our hot coffee, with milk.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Sometimes my physical therapist
pours her blonde Russian soul on me,
and rubs it in with massage cream.

As I lie there, and she works on my shoulder,
she tells me of being 38 and single.
Of her friend, to whom she says:
'You always forget, you did not come to this country for love.
You came here for money. If you wanted love,
you should've stayed in Russia'

She tells me of Russian men being intimidated by her
business-owning success,
and of Americans who are as hollow as a Russian doll --
'the harder you try to get deeper with them, the more layers of hollowness you discover.'
'You think there's depth under that polite have-a-nice-day outer layer?
There isn't.'

She tells me of being a trophy girl to a 70-year-old Greek
with colonoscopies and wrinkles in all the wrong places,
and she tells me of being too wise to want children anymore.

'Young people have children,
because they think it will make them happy. It won't,' she says
with bitter red cranberries appearing in her eyes.

'And if they think kids will help them when they're old --
think again. not in America.
In America they will stick you into a nursing home
and live 300 miles away.'

And so it goes.
Then she says "Time's up, see you next time!" smiles a wide smile,
and marches off to see the next patient.

I know what she means.

I hope I'll never agree.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Salvador Dali

There's a kid who had a big hallucination
Making love to girls in magazines.

Could anybody love him
or is it just a crazy dream?

And if I show you my dark side,
Will you still hold me tonight?
And if I open my heart to you,
and show you my weak side
What would you do?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Only a year ago?

This time last year, on the eve of the 9th of Av...
And now...

May our eyes behold
Your return to Zion in compassion,
So that Your beloved ones
may be given rest.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Often what one regrets the most
are the words that have been left unsaid,
thoughts unexpressed,
pleas not given a fair hearing.

But I wish that there were still things
that remained unspoken --

so that I could imagine saying them to you,
when I watch the balloon fly away.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The blue air-balloon

A little girl's crying: her air-balloon is gone.
People console her, the balloon flies on.

A young maid is crying: she can't find a groom.
People console her, the balloon flies on.

A woman is crying: her husband has left.
People console her, the balloon flies on.

Old lady's crying: life passed by too fast --
The balloon came back now, a blue balloon it is.

(Bulat Okudzhava)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A day of rest

In the shaking flame
of the havdalah candle,
the put-aside thoughts of the week
come back to life,
like a waking, paw-stretching, back-arching lion --

the rockets' red glare,
her crying eyes,
unrealized dreams,
and all new fears.

Shavua Tov...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


How can a little girl -

cornered and anxious
helpless, dependent,
frightened by death and by life -

become a Woman of Valor?

Monday, July 10, 2006


It is a famous cliche
that it takes a moment to destroy
what you spent a lifetime building.

it takes more than a moment.
Sometimes it takes a premeditated decision,
a deliberate plan carried out with all the good intentions.

But when the "the-only-smart-thing-to-do" plan becomes reality,
it creates only a swallowing earth and
something wonderful lost,
perhaps forever.

If you'd like to make a call, please hang up and try again.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Hearing Voices

This story from last year deserves a bump....

Zidane says mysterious voice guided his comeback decision

PARIS, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Zinedine Zidane says a mysterious voice inspired his decision to play for France again.

"One night, at three in the morning, I woke up suddenly and then, I talked to someone," Zidane tells French magazine France Football in an interview to be released on Tuesday.

"That person really exists but it all comes from very far. And then, during the hours that followed, I took the decision to come back".

The three-times World Player of the Year, who won the World Cup in 1998 and the European championship two years later, had announced his retirement from international football after Euro 2004.

The 33-year-old's comeback decision came as surprise after he had said several times over the past few months that he would not change his mind.

"I was dumbfounded before that force that was guiding my behaviour and I had something of a revelation," Zidane told France Football.

Friday, June 23, 2006


It is painful to throw away old things, so instead I spent hours reorganizing old photographs, remembering the times they were taken, and wondering if anyone else's ever going to look at them, and how I wish I had not lost touch with so many in them.

The room is still a mess.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Religious old men spend their terrifyingly long days learning,
the atheist ones do TV and crossword puzzles.
It is nice to think that the former has more meaning than the latter --
sometimes there's no harm in self-delusion.

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Bomb

My boss just reminded me of this old 1960s classic by Tim Lehrer:
(indeed, the more things change, the more things stay the same)

First we got the bomb, and that was good,
'Cause we love peace and motherhood.
Then Russia got the bomb, but that's okay,
'Cause the balance of power's maintained that way.
Who's next?


Then Indonesia claimed that they
Were gonna get one any day.
South Africa wants two, that's right:
One for the black and one for the white.
Who's next?

Egypt's gonna get one too,
Just to use on you know who.
So Israel's getting tense.
Wants one in self defense.
"The Lord's our shepherd," says the psalm,
But just in case, we better get a bomb.
Who's next?

Luxembourg is next to go,
And (who knows?) maybe Monaco.
We'll try to stay serene and calm
When Alabama gets the bomb.
Who's next?
Who's next?
Who's next?
Who's next?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The search for the Afikoman

As Bokonon has it (you can tell I liked the book!):

Tiger got to hunt,
Bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder, "Why, why, why?"
Tiger got to sleep,
Bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.

Hide-and-seek is probably the most universally popular children's game. Just like a child's natural curiousity is exploited to keep her interested in the seder, so to does God play hide-and-seek with Reality, to keep Man ever interested in Him.

Monday, April 03, 2006

A Kurt Vonnegut Midrash

In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in His cosmic loneliness.

And God said, "Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done." And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man.

Mud-as-man alone could speak. God leaned close as mud-as-man sat up, looked around, and spoke. Man blinked. "What is the purpose of all this?" he asked politely.

"Everything must have a purpose?" asked God.

"Certainly," said man.

"Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this," said God.

And He went away.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


I am still a slave --
for if I weren't, I'd be able to choose
to go back to work.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

I like Shabbos...

...because it is the only day i can focus my mind on
two things that i like most --
my friends and my books.

...and because i get to hear her voice on the phone
when it ends.

Monday, March 20, 2006


Relationships, jobs, diverging roads.
Old names evoke nostalgia, visit me in dreams,
but rarely awake my cell phone.
Different continents, countries, states, cities
erode friendships.

So many good people have come and gone
leaving only a lasting impression,
and outdated phone numbers.

Null pointer exception.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Basic Instinct

I wanted all things
To make some sense,
So we could all be happy, yes,
Instead of tense.
And I made up lies
So that they all fit nice,
And I made this sad world
A par-a-dise.
-Bokonon, Cat's Cradle.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Robbed in the San Francisco Bay

Relieved of lunch by evil birds.

San Francisco -- Part III

The Golden Gate Bridge across the Great Unknown:

We all need change, but some need it more than others:

It is hard to be a god:(at the Spanish Mission in Carmel-by-the-Sea)

San Francisco -- Part II


Saturday, March 04, 2006

San Francisco -- Part I

Monday, December 26, 2005

A heter

Russian-Jewish-American-Modern-Orthodox --
Living between cultures
has never been easier :)

Happy Holidays.

(click the image to enlarge).

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Too much holiday spirit?

A group of about 5 women from work are walking the hallways and singing Merry Christmas carrols this morning. They're not especially good, and the whole thing is a bit amusing.

Religion in the workplace is a no-no, but in my view going out into the hallway to marvel at grown professional women singing songs in the middle of a busy day, provides a welcome respite from the daily routine.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

New Photos!

Photos from my trip to Istanbul and Israel below!

Scroll down the whole way, and leave a comment!

Fun times :)

Our Muslim cousins

I must say I have seen few things more beautiful, more impressive, more glorious than the mosques of Istanbul.

A post-Ramadan fair gets going outside the mosque. Lots of books on sale, including -- of course -- some wonderful Nazi titles, with swastias and magen davids...

That shouldn't stop us from admiring the ceiling:

The women's section, behind the "mehitza". That's in the Fatih mosque:

The Blue Mosque had the women's section up on the balcony:

Chanting the prayer for the sick..:

Streets of Istanbul

"Mister, would you like some hairspray? Or, perhaps, I can interest you in a handgun?"

These rabbits are supposed to predict your fortune by picking up one of those little papers. In my near future, the rabbit said, a $350 little Persian carpet, 30 minutes after this shot. I have no idea what I'm going to do with that carpet, but I just couldn't resist the sales pitch, which included the owner feeding me green tea to warm me up on a damp November night.

They LOVE their flags inTurkey!

More photos!

Finally, below are photos from my amazing trip to Israel over Sukkot.

Coming up soon on this space: San Francisco!

Enjoy :)

All in one

Can all of today's Israel be summed up in one photo? No, but I LOVED the many ironies of this little piece of the old Jewish Quarter:

Here it is in full detail:

Note the entrance to the ancient Roman street on the right, the Habad Road sign, with Arabic letters wiped out, the Israeli flag in the window above, wiped out as well, with the orange ribbon.

Day at the Western Wall, Part 2

I've heard there was a secret chord that David played, and it pleased the Lord...

or "How to charm a cute police woman" :)

City of Contrasts..:

"I'll buy new pants when Moshiach comes":

A day at the Western Wall...

There was an army ceremony by the Wall, a couple Chabad guys were passing by and started dancing around with the soldiers:

...soon, all the soldiers have joined in:

Who said the Charedi don't serve in the army? They do, and at a very young age:

Arabs... cats... Polish peacekeepers..: