October 27, 2018

After Adrienne Rich

Photo by Emma Gossett on Unsplash

October 27, 2018

What is a Jew in solitude?

When eleven Jews were gunned down in a shul

less than a mile from my own,

Less than a quarter mile from the one

where my great-grandparents davened,

I was a Jew in solitude.

I associate Jewish community with comfort.

On October 27 I needed comfort more than I needed oxygen.

On October 27 we mourned as a community.

And God knows Jews are not strangers

to communal mourning.

But even when on that evening hundreds of us lit candles

in Washington Square Park,

four hundred too many miles

from Squirrel Hill,

and even the next day when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

published its first ever Hebrew front page,

beautifully and horribly,

Yitgadal v’yitkadash sh’mei rabah,

and even a year later when the Pittsburgh Symphony

performed a Tree of Life yahrtzeit concert

that brought me to tears,

The despair I felt was so overpowering

it still felt like mine alone.

So I was a Jew in solitude.

A Jew realizing

that if she lived in a world where her community members could be

murdered in cold blood as they read from Vayera

that if davening in community, observing in Shabbos in a minyan,

couldn’t save them,

A Jew might never know

what it would mean not to feel lonely or afraid

far from her own or those she has called her own.

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Miranda Cooper, born and raised in Pittsburgh, is a New York City-based writer, literary critic, editor, and Yiddish literary translator. Her work has been published by Kirkus, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Ploughshares, Jewish Currents, and more.

Photo credit: Photo by author


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