Jewish Slam Poetry

Each week at Livnot, chevre give their own Words of Wisdom to the group during our Shabbat meal – food for thought. Here, Rozi Levi from the Sukkot 2014 Holiday program delivered a truly epic slam poetry piece.

I close my eyes
And I dream of a world, where all will be clear
Who I am, who you are, where we belong.
I dream of a reality, knowing where I end
and where you begin
where we end and where we begin.

Everything, so clear, that we know who to trust, who we call one of us
Who we can call on when we need help,
to search for love and kindness.
In this world, everything seems like such a balagan.
I don’t know where to start, I can’t see where it ends.

A wise man from the Babylonian times, called Hillel whispers in my ear:
“If I am not for myself, then who is for me?”
Yeah, thank you mom and dad.
But at the end of the day,
I am the source of my motivation, to live my life to the fullest.

But Hillel is not done, he questions:
“If I am only for myself, than who am I?”
He’s so right, the quest for love and kindness is not enough.
I need justice in the world, to share the love, to be kind.
If I am an island standing alone,
who is to love? Who is to be kind to?

I moved to this country,
an official Israel, since a month ago.
In between travelling, moving from city to city, country to country,
Izmir, Istanbul, Boston, Jerusalem, Tsfat,
Addis Abeba, Tel Aviv, New York,
San Francisco, airbuses, airplanes,
Schlepping, schvitzing, schmoozing;
I slow down and ask myself:
Where do I belong?

We spend half of our lives sleeping,
The other half awake.
But if I miss people from all over, over time zones and jet lags,
When am I present?
What is my present people?
Where is my present land?
What is my present community?
In this balagan, in my balagan,
Who do I bond with,
To complete my quest to spread and share love, kindness and justice?

I close my eyes,
And I open them.
I see amazing people around me.
They all have left their mark
In our community.

A community of travelers, do-gooders, singers, sharers, challah bakers, painters,
Happening to cross each other’s paths
In the middle of beautiful mountains,
In a land called livnot.
Livnot, to build,
To build a community.
Strangers, a couple days ago,
Singers of the same song today.
I want to ask us now,
To shift the perspective from I,
To the world of we.

Let’s let the inner Hillel ask, with an ancient voice,
If we are not for our community, who is for us?
What is though, ‘our community’?
Is it us, is it the comfortable loved ones,
Family, friends back home?
Or is it the Jewish people, or the Scottish people, or the People of Israel, or the people of the
“home of the brave”

“Kol Israel Arevim Zeh La-Zeh.”
“All of the people of Israel are responsible of one another”.

Whatever your communities may be, whatever happens to our community,
We are to be bonded with a strong connection.
It can go across continents, across seas.
As long as we are to share
A seat at a Shabbat table,
A couple tips on travelling in Seattle,
A bed to sleep, Some soup to drink,
A smile to spread;
Our community,
No matter how spread out, stays intact.
Because even in the diaspora,
You don’t need physical local bonds to remind you,
That the World is your oyster, and your people, your community, has your back.

All we can be is a community for ourselves.
Or is it?

The emptiness of only sharing among ourselves,
Only loving ones in our circle, in our community,
Kindness and justice only for our own…
Is not enough.

“If I am only for myself, who am I?”
If we are only for our community, who are we?
Who do we want to be?

Before we are an artist, a volunteer,
A daughter, a son, a student, a teacher,
A hiker, a Jew, an Israeli, an Aussie…
We. Are. Human.

No matter what our skin color, eye color,
No matter how big our smiles, wide our hugs, open our hearts,
No matter what mistakes we make, food we lack, love we long, hate we have…
We. Are. Human.

Who do we want to be?
“The more that I give, the more I got to give.”
The more that we give, the more we got to give…
Love. Kindness. Justice.
Our quest is not over until we reconcile. Love. Understand. Accept. Give. Learn.
Tikkun Olam.
Repair the world.
Am I part of the communities I want to be?
Who can I remind, that they are only human,
Like me.

The human condition,
The balagan of humanly emotions, regrets, mistakes, anger, hate, sadness.

How there is enough food to eat for everyone,
and not all can eat.
How for some reason, we can’t put down the weapons and play with puppies.
How there is enough love to give,
but not all children feel loved.
How the land we are on right now has seen so much suffering,
and yet no one seems to be successful in saying “enough”

But at the same time,
How tens of thousands pick up their life to work for the health of the poor,
across the World.
How those who believe in peace continue to try, time and time again,
to find their partners in reconciliation.
How children on the streets are given a second chance by many,
who have a heart
big enough for another child.
How we can make an old lady’s day by dancing with them in their old age home.
How we can find the strength to accept, to forgive, and to pay it forward.
How we can end some part of some people’s balagan,
just by giving them the tools to help themselves
Tikkun Olam.
Repair the World.
“If not now, when?”

Rozi Levi
Chevre Livnot Sukkot 2014

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