A Lamentation for Our Time

From a Jerusalem newspaper: Although here and there one still sees the orange ribbons that signified opposition to the disengagement, they have by and large disappeared from the Israeli scene.


What shall I do with my orange ribbon?
It adorned the corners of my car,
waved defiantly in the wind throughout Jerusalem,
and now it is useless.
It served faithfully,
but the people did not rally to its side.

What will become of my orange ribbon?
What it tried so valiantly to prevent
has taken place.
I cannot simply throw it away-
the ribbon represents hope against impossible odds,
faith against overwhelming force.
Shall I retain it on my car,
in an act that defies the reality that has set in?

It is faded now, my lovely orange ribbon,
once bright with hope and anticipation.
Shall I tack it onto the wall of my room,
a souvenir of a time when one still hoped
that bright little ribbons could change the course of events?

What shall I do with my sign that proclaims with certainty,
Yehudi lo megaresh Yehudi
“A Jew does not drive out a Jew.”

The unthinkable has taken place.
Jew has evicted Jew.
It took only six days.
In six days the world of the settlers was un-created
by those who sent them there in the first place.
Un-created by Jews evicting Jews.

What will become of my sign?
Perhaps I should delete the lo, the “not,”
so that it will now read,
in a sad lament ,
“A Jew drives out a Jew.”

Perhaps I should put a question mark
at the end of the sign,
so that it becomes a shocked and astonished question :
“A Jew drives out a Jew?”

Or perhaps I should let it remain as it is,
reminding one and all
that despite all the facts on the ground,
despite the terrible reality,
the immutable principle remains intact:
A Jew does not –
should not ,
will not –
drive out a Jew.

What shall I do with my trust, says the settler.
I trusted in the promises
of those who sent me to the desert,
who promised to stand by me forever,
who encouraged me to give up the comforts of city life
to build on the sand dunes
and to plant flowers there.
The promises blew away with the desert wind .

I trusted in the people of the land ,
for I was in the front lines ,
defending them and building for them
and providing a buffer for them
against those who would destroy us all.

But the people of the land grew fat and prosperous,
and when I turned to them for help,
they averted their eyes and turned away .

What shall I do with my trust
that somehow the expulsions,
at the last moment,
would not take place?
That somehow the synagogues would not be destroyed.,
the cemeteries not uprooted,
the schools not shut down.
That somehow the family homes
and the fertile farms
would not be destroyed,
and that somehow the children would be able
to grow up in their own homes?

I trusted in myself to withstand the desert heat by day
and the desert cold by night,
and the enemy and his bombs and his soldiers –
but how could I withstand
the cages and the trucks and the soldiers of my own people,
those who sent me here in the first place ?

What shall become of my trust?
The sand dunes will return to sand,
the desert wind will bury my flowers.
And my trust –
misplaced , misdirected, misused –
what shall I now do with it?
I had forgotten that King David had warned
about trusting in princes and in men who are made of dust
and return to dust.

I will gather in my trust
and toss it heavenward,
for only in Him can there be trust.
I toss upward also
the keys to the synagogues,
the schools,
the homes,
the farms,
the neighborhoods,
the families.
He will preserve the keys
until the time comes to restore them to us.
And I will also toss heavenward
my faded orange ribbon,
and my hopeful little sign.

May He preserve them
Forever as a remembrance.

What shall I do with my trust?
I will place my trust in the safekeeping
of the One Above,
Whose mysterious commands
are beyond my understanding
and Whose hidden ways
are too wondrous for me

Let him take my trust and lovingly store it
in His divine repository,
next to the container that holds my tears.

He will surely remember that I tried
to preserve His holy land
as best as I could,
that I was able to withstand
the worst terror of my enemies,
but could not withstand
my fellow Jews.

A Jerusalem conversation: This morning I stopped by my fruit store, hoping to buy some oranges. “Sorry,”said the man, “we are all out of oranges. Out of season.” I was disappointed. But he continued with a smile, “Soon enough, though, they will be back, better than ever.”

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