Dear Patrons, I wrote this poem in October 2014, on the Jewish holy day of Simhath Torah, which is being celebrated worldwide today, as I write this post. Not much has changed, unfortunately, since I wrote this poem seven years ago, and I find myself sitting out the festivities this year, as in years past, because the Judaism that I practiced, and that I love, is today nowhere to be found. You may not catch some of the references in the poem without a little back story, so here are a few articles for you to find out more: “Who Stole My Judaism?” and “Ethiopian-Born Comic Mines History for Laughs” and “Synagogue Revolt.” If anything is unclear, and you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them – just leave your thoughts in the comments section below. – Loolwa

This is not
The Judaism
I signed up for

Iraqi men
Circling the tebah
In reverie

Replaced by
A cloud of chaos
Into a pit
Of drunken revelry

Geopolitical upheaval
Decades past
Dictating the course of history
Until I can’t recognize
My religion so dear to me

All the isms
Coming to a head
In a burst
Of cultural destruction
That you can’t recognize
Because you’re drunk

Jewish identity
Based on
The dress codes
Of Polish nobility
From centuries ago

Imposing those codes
On religious leaders
From Ethiopia Yemen and Afghanistan
Who sweat and stink
Under the blazing Israeli sun
As if their ancestors
Had walked through the snow
On their way to
Prayers in the desert synagogue

I am repulsed
By the collective lack of self-esteem
And lack of awareness of this lack
Together leading to
The erosion of our heritage

Lambs to the slaughter
Ashkenazi domination
Posturing as Jewish integration
Decimating in half a century
What the Muslims and Christians
Couldn’t for millennia
Despite their brutal oppression

No I will sit out
This Simhath Torah,thank you
Contemplating with a clear mind
And broken heart
The word of my G*d

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