Deborah Simon Troner

What will happen next? And after that?

In a few days, more than 800 South Florida Jews will travel to our beloved Israel on a Federation Mission to celebrate Israel’s 75th birthday. I wonder if and how they will find things there: will they participate in the protests, or even see them? How will the political climate seem to them? My husband and I have been to Israel  twice this year, but the second trip took place with the changes and challenges looming on the horizon, and now they are up close, every day.  What will happen next? And after that?


Our first trip to Israel in ’84
We had many “discussions” with our guide, Menashe
Who fervently tried to convince us
That if we didn’t move to Israel,
What kind of Jews were we?
And that Israel is the only place in the world
Where you didn’t have to practice Judaism in any way
And you’d still be a “good” Jew

Our seventh? eighth? trip to Israel
During the recent elections
Would have given Menashe quite a jolt
At least I hope so
Rachel and the other early kibbutzniks
And Ben Gurion and Golda and Rabin
All those who worked and died to build a fair and honorable society
The only democracy in the Middle East
Are turning over in their graves
And wondering what will come next

It happened slowly over the years
In America and the rest of the world, too
Subtle turns to the right
To racism and othering and hatred
To power politics and pandering  to the “ultras”
Conspiracy theories and a loss of civil conscience
Disrespect for others’ opinions and voices
The Talmud stresses moderation in all things
Not so the religious/nationalistic/populist power mongers
Who ride roughshod over rights of others and civil law
In the name of God
But not for the sake of heaven
Only for themselves

They, who claim to be religious
And may be observant
Are certainly not religious
Hear, O Israel!
We are taught that actions such as your current ones
Destroyed the Second Temple
There was no Israel for two thousand years
Do you really think you are secure on your perch
That it couldn’t happen again?
You don’t need a prophet to judge and correct you
Just read the Bible, you “religious” ones
And make t’shuvah before it is too late

About the Author
I grew up in New York City; graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and Cornell University with a major in journalism; have lived in Miami since 1971 with my husband, children, and grandchildren. One daughter and her family live in England. My husband and I have studied continuously with the Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning since 1997. I began writing poetry during Covid lockdown.