At the shore of the sea

At the shore of the sea long ago what did they really think?

I sit at my closest sea up the street and wonder, 

watching rare white water, ocean-like waves,

and note that even Michigan is invisible.

How did they do it — 

imagining the guts it took to walk into that water 

without seeing across.

New beginnings are like that,

limited vision, water up to our necks, 

and the need to drop fear to the bottom

so that we can lift our feet to get across.

And wasn’t Miriam exhausted on the other side?!

Yet she had the bandwidth to gather and dance.

Soaring freedom doesn’t come without challenge. 

Easier said than done after a zoomed-out year.

The sea is splitting, I’m sure of it,

but we’re not yet across.

Oh, is it time to get there, already!

(27 March 2021, Erev Pesach)

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.