Rivy Poupko Kletenik

A Poem for Vayera

“Can I hide what I do from Abraham?”

Though You are hidden, we feel your Presence.

“I know that he will instruct his children”

Children, their chairs in school are empty.

“To guard the path of justice and right”

Guard? Struggle for justice and for right.

“I will go down and see”

Yes, look upon what can’t be looked upon!

“Will you sweep away the innocent?”

Vanished. Dragged away. Ripped from homes.

“I am but dust and ashes”

Yesterday, I was young, beautiful, vibrant.

“As the sun rose upon the earth”

The holiday prayers were rising upwards.

“Annihilating those cities and inhabitants”

Kibbutzim. Moshavot. Villages.

“Smoke of the land, like smoke of a kiln.”

Caught on camera for the world to see.

“He answered, here I am.”


“Take your child. Offer him”

No. No. Not our children.

“Where is the sheep for a burnt offering?”

There, tangled in the shrub.

“Do not raise your hand against the boy”

We beg. We plea. We pray.

“You will be numerous as the stars of heaven”

Will we?

“Your descendants will seize the gates of their foes.”

Oh my.

About the Author
Rivy Poupko Kletenik, a 2002 Exceptional Jewish Educator Covenant Award Winner, just completed sixteen years as Head of School at the Seattle Hebrew Academy. Rivy is an enthusiastic writer and devotee of poetry and literature. Her column “What’s Your JQ” appeared for years in the JT News and then “Jewish in Seattle Magazine” and she is thrilled and proud to be awarded the Simon Rockower American Jewish Press Association Excellence in Commentary.
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