Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Burden of Great Age

Goldie Steinberg (Gurfinkel)When Goldie Steinberg died on August 16, 2015 she was aged 114 and the oldest verified Jewish person in the world.

Mrs Steinberg had also been reportedly the world's sixth oldest living person, the second oldest to be living in the United States and the oldest person ever born in the Russian Empire.

Mrs Steinberg (neé Gurfinkel), born in Kishinev, had survived the town’s infamous pogroms of 1903 and 1905. She emigrated with her two sisters to the United States in 1923, became a seamstress and married a jeweller, Philip Steinberg in 1932. He died in 1967 and the couple had two children, four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. She died at the Grandell Rehabilitation and Nursing Centre in Long Beach, New York.


Summer’s Lease


Was it supposed to be like this?

The shaded sun at ninety-two

more fiercely robust than was

I ever – even in my prime!


Here I rest. A desiccated

cliché, half forgot – dazzled

by the glare from life’s fading flash,

yet captive to its mopish melody.


Should it be this way?

Too hot, too cold; no day, no

month quite right; but all the same.

Another week’s fled so fast.

Sabbath’s here again.


For this final ‘now’ I survived

mass slaughter secreted in a

stranger’s house? Withstood

a revolution, two world wars,

sailed a depthless sea?


Seasoned seamstress though

I be, life’s unravelled, jagged,

somewhat frayed; a weary round:

‘Knit one, pearl two. Sit up, dear.

How many sugars in your tea?’


Should I feel like this?

Burdened, not upraised by one

hundred plus fourteen pillared years

that overarched a century and more.

Now it it’s time for me to go. I want

to be free.

© Natalie Wood (22 September 2015)

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

A Day of Love - and Hatred

Israeli authorities are ‘convinced’ that Jewish extremists perpetrated the firebombing of two adjacent homes in the northern West Bank Arab village of Kafr Duma during the early hours of Friday 31 July.

Three of four members of the young Dawabsha family have since died as a result of burns sustained during the Molotov cocktail attack. Many Israelis are outraged by what happened and like me, still hope against much material evidence that Jews were in no way involved and that the attack was part of a local feud.

The poem below is my own response to the affair which coincided with Tu B’Av – Israel’s Valentine’s Day.

Kafr Duma Attack


More Writing on Another Wall

 Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin -

You have been numbered, weighed, divided’

(Book of Daniel, 5:25)


I remember the moon

at Harvest, a bloated orb

birthing hate and heart-ache.


I remember too, where once

white-clad fireflies, we’d dart

through tremulous vines, garlanding

first loves with patterned lights of

whispered futures we’d never dare define.


But now? No!

Surely not the same!

They could not have been

our boys – their fathers’ sons –

who stole out that night –

not as ordained for lovers’ wooing.

But dressed to kill, their faces scarfed

against the murderous flames

they fuelled and then fanned.


There are no better days

for us than Tu B’Av and

its mirrored sister, the sacred

fast of Yom Kippur. But the

night of love that turned to

hate is that for which we’ll

now eternally atone.


Some say the fire at Kafr Duma

was set by local scoundrels working

on a feud. How clever to kill their

mortal foes; divert the blame and

foment yet more unreasoned hatred

against us Jews.


But the writing’s on the

Dawabsha family’s wall

for all to see. We may

pretend no more.


This is our revenge.

Long live the King Messiah’.

Don’t think the end is here.


© Natalie Wood (16 September 2015)

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Alwayswriteagain: כתיבה וחתימה טובה 5776

Alwayswriteagain: כתיבה וחתימה טובה 5776: With every good wish for a happy, healthy and sweet Jewish New Year, 5776 from Natalie Wood and Brian Fink in Karmiel, Galilee, Israel. ...