Dear Poetry + patrons, a number of social media posts on my feed have me thinking about how individual stupidity and prejudice often contaminate the purity of spiritual values and principles, and make religious communities unwelcoming or unsafe for people whose souls want to be, and should be, part of those communities. Growing up as an orthodox Jew, it has taken a lifetime to oust some of the programming about who is and is not a good Jew, or a real Jew, and who gets to decide that. I rejected these limiting and misguided beliefs decades ago, but have found that it takes a lot longer to untangle from them not only in practice but in perception. With these thoughts in mind, I share with you this poem from eight years ago.

G-d and sexism mix
In your temple
Which used to be my synagogue
Until you co-opted it
With your boy’s club
And now I sit
Behind a glass wall
In the back row
Reserved for the underclass
Your mothers sisters daughters wives girlfriends
As you monitor our prayers
Shush us when our
Devotion to G-d
Gets too loud for your ego
You define things recursively
So that any woman acting in her fullness
Is parading as a man
And threatening your spotlight
Center stage
When all she’s really being
Is the Being your G-d created

©2014 by Loolwa Khazzoom. All rights reserved. No portion of this article may be copied without author’s permission.