Silent Lips?

 

We sit comfortably at the table tonight,

years since Emma Lazarus penned,

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”

Years since we, our parents, grandparents and the greats before them

reached “the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame”

and arrived at the golden door

 

We who sit at the seder table —

we know that the homeless, tempest-tost are not wretched refuse.

We have been there —

we ourselves or those who arrived before us.

We know our story, our journey to freedom.

We hear Torah’s reminder: you were slaves in Egypt

 

Yet we see so many immigrants and refugees

treated as trash dumped on our shores,

not welcomed by Mother of Exiles with her beacon-hand welcoming,

but with a raised hand turning them away,

 

Tonight we celebrate redemption.

We celebrate the freedom to journey,

We celebrate the freedom to enter,

We celebrate the freedom to act in the world.

 

We lift the cup tonight, not one time, but four,

each a promise of redemption,

a commitment to freedom and safety for those who came before us.

 

Tonight we see ourselves as if we left Egypt.

Tonight as we hear women’s voices,

Lady Liberty’s silent lips cry out:

Where is your beacon-hand that welcomes?

How will you redeem?

 

Quoted sections, title & other direct references cite Emma Lazarus’ poem The New Colossus. 

Prague Chanukah, 1990

High ceilings marked the grand room. The space called out history, communal gatherings, meetings, celebrations. On this night, the auditorium-like room, stage at one end was filled. The crowd dressed in an old-fashioned, timeless style reminiscent of the ‘40s. We had traveled back in time. It was if the Shoah had never happened. Music played – instruments – maybe klezmer – with a contagious spirit. And at the front of the room on that nearly empty stage sat a gold Chanukiah, waiting to be lit. Continue reading