Thursday, November 5, 2015


Jewish Prayer

This poem was written by our daughter, Raizel Stenge, who resides in Israel with her family. Redemption (geulah in Hebrew, גאולה) is a common theme, a plaintive cry, among the Jewish People throughout their long history. Redemption is the seventh blessing in the Amidah (Hebrew, תפילת העמידה, Tefilat HaAmidah, “The Standing Prayer”), also called Shemoneh Esrei (Hebrew, שמנה עשרה, “Eighteen Benedictions”) for the original 18 benedictions; although there are now 19. This poem is exceptional in its moving narrative, in its personal story, in its naming and understanding of what it is that defines, explains if you will, the essence of humanity.

by Raizel Stenge


The stillness in the room is stifling
The pleasantries unkept
Through the ancient cracks in the walls
No air enters, it has only left.
I turn to the Wall of the Faces
Who’ve forgotten, themselves,
What the Time and the Place is.
I look each One in the eyes,
And I say to prove more than to defy
I’ve swam the impossible seas
Of world war three
And don’t you agree
It’s coming from inside me
And now I am bereft
Of my foresight and hindsight
And what’s right
And whose fight
Am I part of next.
I talk to each Unchanging Face,
Sometimes the light tricks me
That they follow as I pace
And I unroll the whole world
And its disgrace
To the cracks in the walls from where air escapes
I tell them and show them until I realize
That it’s me who I’m fighting with
In each face disguised
A part of me that I see from past lives —
Things I still need to fix.
Paths I still need to pick.
That I still feel the prick
of the pain of the bricks
used to build houses on sand and on mud
While we spill the blood
on the proverbial altar of sanctity.
I look at the Faces and see —
That they hungrily listen to me.
That I am them, and they are me.

Raizel Stenge is a twenty-something-year-old wife and mother of three boys, raising her family in the hills and valleys of Israel. She is also a Torah student, writer, beautician, healer, essential oils-nerd and aspiring health nut. As a student of Life, Raizel also knows that the answer to the Ultimate Question is not "42." 

Copyright ©2015. Raizel Stenge. All Rights Reserved. This poem is published here with the author’s permission.