Poetica Magazine

Poetica Magazine



Poem of an End



Prague, Czech Republic

Tisha Be-av and Tu Be-av 82 liftrat katan/August 2022


After Yehuda Amichai’s “Poem Without an End”



In a synagogue

they have made a Jewish museum.


The Torah scrolls and rabbi’s chair

are gone.


There are no children running through

the aisles


no elderly congregants

claim their regular seats.


In their place –


men with bare heads

and

women without much clothing

move about the sanctuary.


They have made a Jewish museum

in a synagogue.


Exhibit panels line the walls

where siddurim and ḥumashim.

would be shelved.


Instead of prayer and study


cameras snap,

cellphones sweep the room

for panoramic pictures,

and visitors pose

for ubiquitous selfies.


No more amen,

no more yehe sheme rabah,

no more shabbat derasha,

no more kiddush levana.


Come evening,

members of a local symphony orchestra

perform medleys to great applause

for culture-worshipers.


After fifty years

of fascists and communists

there are not enough Jews left

to fill the beautiful space

with devotion.

For what else can it be used?


A Jewish museum

in a synagogue

they have made.


The full moon wanes.


In a cemetery once

at a burial,

I heard a Jewish woman

say:

“The problem with the Orthodox

is they made Judaism into a religion.”


But in this building

I see the trouble

is

that others

have rendered the religion

into a memorial.