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Monday, January 09, 2023


by Betsy Mars

A flyer for a campaign to dissuade Jews from cremation. Courtesy of Rabbi Elchonon Zohn accompanying “More and more Jews are choosing cremation. These rabbis aren’t happy about it,” Forward, January 5, 2023

An ash is an ash of course, of course,
unless it's derived from a Jewish corpse.
Then under law and tradition (Tradition!)
said corpse must be interred, of course.
We don't want to reminisce about history 
when we're enmeshed in a different kind 
of misery, and the associations 
with Nazi Germany might lead to regret 
and painful discourse. 
But in the end the worms have their way 
(first course) no matter our religion, 
and ashes to ashes, dust to dust
so why not hasten the process 
rather than wasting space for bones and stones 
(though most rabbis and scholars do 
not endorse this course, of course)?
The Bible does not tell us so, of a prohibition, 
so off we go, and we're all letting go 
of our divisions— or
at least the pundits tell us so—
and at least in this final decision, keeping up 
with the goyim, assimilation above 
the ground, not under ground, a shanda.

Betsy Mars is a prize-winning poet, a photographer, publisher, and an editor at Gyroscope Review. Her writing has appeared widely online and in numerous print anthologies. She is a Best of the Net and Pushcart nominee.  Her photos have been published in Rattle (as the Ekphrastic Challenge prompt), Redheaded Stepchild, and as a cover image for Spank the Carp. She works as a substitute teacher, and as a cat wrangler in her spare time. Her chapbooks and small press publications (Kingly Street Press) are available on Amazon. In addition to her chapbook collaboration with Alan Walowitz, she recently worked with artist Judith Christensen on an installation in San Diego which is part of an ongoing exploration of memory, identity, home, and family.