Tassels swinging as they walk to the Wall on Saturdays; perhaps not. It depends, you know. Some wear frock coats so you wouldn't know it; plus- tassels probably don't swing much under heavy polyester. I went abroad to teach a group of secular Jews from Russia in Georgia. The country. I wore my skullcap (that's not what I call it) and only ate kosher food. They asked me all about ultra- Orthodoxy. I'm no authority. No insider. Most of that community sees me as no different than secular Jews, perhaps "worse". Complicated to explain without getting into theology. Hard to explain even to Jews. Moving on - I live with them in holy Jerusalem; a large group assembles on Saturdays near my former downtown apartment to block traffic. My secular father found this fascinating, as he did nearly everything; my wife found it degrading. Me too. Most who protest weekly wear those frock coats, indicating membership in a Hasidic sect. Those who wear modern black business jackets are of the "Lithuanian" ultra- Orthodox persuasion, which, only several centuries ago, vehemently opposed Hasidic ways. Now they're united in Israel's parliament against serving in the defense forces, despite living under their protection. Difficult not to let bias show like my epidermis. I'll try to stick to the facts, Sir, Ma'am. That's what I am here for. Not so sexy writing about Jews; not something the world cares to know about. Write what you know. Some, mostly Hasidic, will never, ever see my words online because their rabbis forbid Internet access. Oh. Those tassels are actually fringes, tzitzit in Hebrew, which I wear, sometimes for months at a stretch, until I tire or struggle through a religious crisis. Those frock coats? Bekishes. Never worn one, nor do I want to. It's ironic ( epidermis) that they adopted the dress of non- Jews in the Czarist era and claim today that it's authentic Jewish garb. Nonsense. I wouldn't wear that, even to cover my epidermis, but I'm not trying to. Ultra-Orthodox women don't wear pants and cover their hair upon marriage. Some wear wigs; but some heed rabbis who rule: INAPPROPRIATE! Personally, oh- never mind. Just the facts, Ma'am, Sir. My skull cap is a kippah; that's Hebrew. Means dome. Many call it yarmulke. That's Yiddish. The majority who speak Yiddish are Hasidic. The majority who speak modern Hebrew are Israeli. Jews' exteriors once mattered more to me. I saw wisdom in beards; now I have one; it's meaningless. I once asked a rabbi why he didn't have one. He'd never thought about it; I felt foolish. Still do. If tzitzit are concealed by bekishes, you'll note ear locks swinging as they walk to the Wall on Saturdays; perhaps not, but most Hasidic males have them. I don't. I do have insight into their lifestyles, as I've studied them; we share a heritage and religious texts. The rub is that most of the world sees me and assumes I am one. I am.
For today’s d’Verse open link, I’ve decided to share a free verse poem that I wrote ten months ago, not long after I created this blog.
I rarely write free verse, although I think I should do more of it… but I struggle with poetry that doesn’t have any rules attached to it. What is it exactly that makes the above staggered sequence of words a poem?