The Poem without an end

When I was a child, my parents tended to be very honest with me when tragedy struck. As parents, we tend to take experiences of our own childhood and do our best to apply our “best practices” to our own parental ability. Albeit in what I hope is a much more censored and child-friendly manner, I have very honest conversations with my oldest daughter. Pondering how we raise children who are compassionate, loving and filled with hope when the reality of our world forces us to be reminded of how much evil roams the very same earth that we do, is something so many of us struggle with. Yesterday was a reminder of that…

I sat in synagogue yesterday,

More correctly, I chased my two daughters around synagogue.
Through one of my final sprints, out of the children’s service, I could tell something was wrong.

There was a Bar Mitzvah taking place resulting in an especially celebratory Shabbat experience.

We are very used to being greeted by a police officer as we attend services.
This is not a strange sight.

But when I began to see very concerned faces and some of the changes security seemed to be putting into place, I knew something was wrong.

A friend shared the tragic news with me.

My biggest concern attending Shabbat services in my wonderful Greater DC community as I serve as an emissary for the Jewish Agency for Israel, has always been keeping my Sabra girls tame and making sure they don’t take all the Challah and Oreo cookies at Kiddush. This past Friday night one of them even attempted to turn on a fire alarm. Our junior Rabbi laughed as he watched me make the mad dash to save the day.

The tragedy at the Tree of Life synagogue brought back some of the worst memory flashes one can have.

I found myself dashing for the closest seat near the emergency exit. That is the Israeli in me…

We could have taken the children home.


We will not leave our places of worship.


Resilience is something that is a part of my children’s DNA.

It is a part of all our DNA.

This tragic Shabbat represents what makes us unique as a community: the tragedy of one community is the tragedy of our entire community.

Tragedy often brings determination. For me, it has always been my mechanism.

My daughters will continue to learn in their Jewish institutions.
They will continue to create small chaos in our beloved synagogue on Shabbat.
We will not be broken.

For we never have.
Not through the deepest and darkest moments in our collective story.

“Stronger than Hate”
“Together against antisemitism”

These are some of the messages that are flooding social media.

Individuals who never express opinions are sharing their thoughts.

Yehuda Amichai’s poem, “The poem with no end”, has also been a choice of expression used by a number of friends:

Inside the brand-new museum
there’s an old synagogue.
Inside the synagogue
is me.
Inside me
my heart.
Inside my heart
a museum.
Inside the museum
a synagogue,
inside it
inside me
my heart,
inside my heart
a museum.

We are the poem with no end.

When I experienced my first act of terror in Israel, I remember reacting adversely to standing witness as life returned to “normal.”

There have been certain occasions, even after becoming a veteran Israeli where my sentiment was the same.

The Rav Kook Yeshiva attack.

The Har Nof Synagogue.

The Fogel family…

There are events that we experience, so beyond tragedy and reason that the only just response seems for everything to stop. We want the world to cry with us. We pray our wails of anguish will bring sense to this moment of hope being lost.

We are the poem with no end.

The Jewish people.

From France to South Africa, Israel the U.S. and beyond: we are the poem with no end.

Our children will continue to play in our synagogues.

We will celebrate life’s rites of passage as we have done for millennia, even in history’s dimmest moments.

For we are the poem with no end.

To my brothers in sisters in Pittsburgh: today we cry with you. We mourn with you. We are one with you.

The poem with no end reminds us that we will rise from our mourning.

Our resilience reminds us of that.

Our children remind us of that…

About the Author
Michelle Rojas-Tal is the Jewish Agency's central Shlicha to Hillel International and Director of the Israel Fellows Program. The Jewish Agency for Israel Fellows program brings nearly 80 young emissaries to campuses across North America and close to a dozen across the globe to serve on college campuses. Michelle and her family are currently on Shlichut and living in the greater D.C. area from Jerusalem. She has devoted her life's work to Israel and the Jewish people.
Related Topics
Related Posts