by Malaena Nahmias
My zeda points me to the front row,
to sit beside him.
The only female in the downstairs sanctuary.
Still a girl I am allowed to be amongst men.
High ceilings and rows of wooden pews,
Women upstairs hiding behind white curtains,
old men huddled in white and black striped shawls,
their straggly long beards yellow and white,
bowing and chanting,
swaying and weeping.
Their voices hum like cicadas in the summer night.
Every once in a while…silence,
then, the shuffling of feet
and groans from the bare wood floor,
amid the musty scent of leather books and old paper.
Dust floating in shafts of light from high windows.
This is where God is.
These men are calling to Him
Calling Him – to be with us, to hear us, to protect us
here and now and always.
There is a bridge,
that is crossed a thousand times a day,
by thousands of the faithful.
This path, well worn,
carries us now to Him so quickly,
it takes my breath away.
No thoughts, no words, no fear,
just the ceaseless incantations of men in white shawls,
and a child’s knowing of God.
© 2023 Malaena Nahmias All rights reserved.