I’m excited that my poem “Runaway” has gone up at Baltimore Review! As an ex-Baltimorean, it means something to have a poem – which is an excavation of my own parents’ motives for choosing one another – in a high-quality hometown journal. I don’t want to give too much away, but [spoiler alert] it’s the opener in my forthcoming book unburial. So if you want to know what the book will be about, let’s just say this poem sets the tone. If you like it, you may want to read the rest of the poems, too. (Hint hint.)
There is a recent story in the NYT about child sexual abuse in the Hasidic community of Brooklyn. It seems that when parents of abused children – who were abused in places like the mikveh, or ritual bath-house, and in religious schools – spoke out and went to the police, they were shunned by their own community.
Abuse victims and their families have been expelled from religious schools and synagogues, shunned by fellow ultra-Orthodox Jews and targeted for harassment intended to destroy their businesses. Some victims’ families have been offered money, ostensibly to help pay for therapy for the victims, but also to stop pursuing charges, victims and victims’ advocates said.
One quote in particular caught my eye. The mother of an abuse victim told the paper:
“There is no nice way of saying it,” Mrs. Engelman said. “Our community protects molesters. Other than that, we are wonderful.”
Other than that, we are wonderful. I wonder if her son agrees with her.
Here’s my favorite Jewish atheist joke, c/o Leo Rosten:
A brilliant young student goes to an old, learned rabbi and defiantly exclaims, “I must tell you the truth! I have become an apikoros. I no longer believe in God.”
“And how long,” asks the elder, “have you been studying Talmud?”
“Five years,” says the student.
“Only five years,” sighed the rabbi, “and you have the nerve to call yourself an apikoros?!…”
• Apikoros is a rabbinical term for unbeliever, skeptic, agnostic, atheist.