Thursday, March 23, 2017

Amulets--Segulote: The Importance of What One Wears Around One's Neck


By David Hartley Mark

                                                Around my neck
                                                I wear
                                                A gold Aseret HaDibrote
                                                Ten Commandments
                                                My parents gave me
                                                When I became Bar Mitzvah:

                                                It was Parshat Beshalach
                                                The Exodus Torah Portion

                                                The Israelites departed Egypt
                                                “With a mighty hand
                                                And an outstretched arm,”
                                                Following their Mysterious, Invisible Tribal God
(Not yet Universal)

                                                Whom we are still following
                                                With better or lesser Results
                                                But a great deal of Hope
                                                To see us through

                                                Whether Splitting Seas,
                                                Fighting Amalek,
                                                Finding Water in the Desert

                                                Or encouraging us
                                                To just keep moving on….

                                                I also wear
                                                A pewter rectangle
                                                Inscribed, “Courage,”
                                                A gift from a late, dear
                                                Woman Friend
                                                Who escaped the Holocaust
                                                On the Kindertransport

                                                She and her sister—
                                                Thirteen and Eleven,
                                                My friend Lisl, thirteen,
                                                Was the oldest child
                                                In the railroad car at the Vienna Station

                                                The big, black train was
                                                Huffing and puffing
                                                In Vienna Station,
                                                While Nazis in leather raincoats
                                                Black uniforms
                                                And tall shiny boots
                                                And Death’s-Head caps
                                                Strode about
                                                There were also
                                                Two Mommies in each railroad car,
                                                Whom the Nazis allowed
                                                To escort the children
                                                To the Border of Belgium
                                                But warned them:
“You Jew women must get off the train there,
                                                Or we will kill your families
                                                Who remain in Austria.”
                                                So the mommies had to get off
                                                In Neutral Belgium
                                                Where they were not wanted
                                                Being Jewish Refugees,

                                                And leave the carful
                                                Of children
                                                They could no longer see
                                                For tears

                                                But at the last minute
                                                Before the train left the station in Vienna,
                                                A young mother, late,
                                                Came running onto the platform,
                                                Crying, breathing hard,
                                                And thrust a great wicker basket
                                                Through the train’s open window,
                                                Calling to Lisl,

“Here, here!
                                                Please take it!”
                                                It was spring
                                                Flowers blooming
                                                Birds chirping
                                                Fearing no evil
                                                A bird can always find

                                                So Lisl took it:
                                                She turned back the blanket,
                                                And two pairs of bright-blue eyes
                                                Looked at her with astonishment:
                                    Two tiny baby girls,
                                    Dressed in their best white clothes
                                    As for a trip

                                    All the Kindertransport survived the war
                                    Many had survivor guilt
                                    But all had Courage
                                    And led productive lives

                                    In spite of those who hated the Jews

                                    My third amulet is a Hamsa:
                                    It is a Hand of Fatima,
                                    My Islamic Mother;
                                    A Hand of Lilith,
                                    My Jewish Mother:

                                    They protect me from
                                    Mystical Evil
                                    In the Universe
                                    And help me to
                                    Scoop up the Sparks of Light
                                    By doing Mitzvote
                                    Good deeds

                                    In a World beset
                                    By Husks of Darkness

                                    That is Our Job:

                                    Only to gather the light
Nothing but Light!

No thing but Light!