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Tuesday, March 12, 2024


by Stacey Z Lawrence

Morah Hebrew School Teacher Mug

I lean on a miniature 

sea blue chair, the color of Israel

& conduct my class to the curtain call with a 

rudimentary rendition of 

Hatikvah. The boys & girls adjust their babushkas 

torn from superhero 

sheets. They pretend to be partisans, they pretend

to survive genocide with water guns & plastic bricks

plopping the toy props across the stage like burial plots

& the synagogue chapel 


in waves of gratitude reigning 

down, micro-rubble crushed 

under rubber spinning & spinning 

strikes me as my students hold hands

swaying like paper cut-outs 

mouthing Hebrew words they 

do not understand

squinting & studying me, 

their Morah’s lips we blast

out this anthem beak fed from birth 

myths spun from milk, guts, honey &

the soot of charred Jews 

chanting hollow prayers into green wind 

we cradle some bald-cackling madcap 

who flies rabid dragonflies beyond his fancy 

fence like  

Dylan Klebold with a broken console 

       Boom, Boom, Kaboom, 

Fizz, Kaboom, Fizzle, Silence.

He crunches on fried falafel tossing

bits of chicks & peas, digging the edge of

that six-pointed star between his yellow teeth

planting olive trees & Long Island Zionists

beneath Alephs & Bets 

like Herzl’s Thieves of the West

his flying monkeys, 

stripping us of our Ashkenazi selves 

our Yiddish, our guttural cadence,

depositing our smoldering mishpocha

us Kikes still stinking of Zyklon B,

bitter the almond smell of 

neglected eggs, shoveling us 

beneath BritishpoundsAmericandollars,

wailing limestone.

Author's note: In December of 2023, days after the congregation celebrated my work with my students, the local synagogue fired me, prohibiting my entrance forever. It was the first night of Chanukah. 

Stacey Z Lawrence is a veteran teacher of English and a Literature Professor. She has an MAT in Theater and Speech and is a poet for Writing The Land, a collaboration between poets and protected land. Her poetry was shortlisted for the Fish Prize in 2019, and 2021 and nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2022. Stacey’s first collection of poems Fall Risk was released to acclaim in August 2021 through Finishing Line Press