Bella Levenshteyn’s Jewish Litany

Dear Shimmelstoy
I’ve been thinking about our last conversation

And while I have some sympathy
For those who agonize about Jewish identity

For me anyway it’s gotten clearer
In these past few years

Thank you for challenging me to articulate my views
Here goes:

The essence of Jewish is
Opposing idolatry with a fierce intensity

The essence of Jewish is
Traveling the path of Arendt’s conscious pariah

The essence of Jewish is
Remembering that we were slaves in Egypt

The essence of Jewish is
Irritating the celebrants of the status quo

The essence of Jewish is
Questioning authority, including divine authority

The essence of Jewish is
Meaning “never again” for anyone

The essence of Jewish is
Recognizing my brother and sister in anyone who is in need

The essence of Jewish is
Being unfazed by Mammon

The essence of Jewish is
Reading forever

The essence of Jewish is
Writing forever

–from novel-in-progress, Our Heroic and Ceaseless 24/7 Struggle against Tsuris

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