On the One Hand…On the Other…

Butterfly@Mariposario in Benalmadena
Photo by Anne Lambeck on Unsplash

On the one hand, twenty years ago, when we were dating,
and walked grinning out of the butterfly exhibit at the Museum
of Natural History, and people pointed, laughing, at my tall boyfriend’s
head, I grew terrified that they were jeering at his kippah,
but when I looked up at his head, my future husband’s head,
now full of graying hair, and there was a butterfly trembling there,
its wings pressed together like children playing Sardines,
or children hiding in a closet from a terrorist, it’s clear
that they were pointing and laughing at the absurdity of a butterfly
on a man’s head, that his Jewishness had nothing to do with it;
but, on the other, last week the Rabbi announced that the security firm
he hired required that there be only one access point open to the building
at a time, so if a child goes out the back door, that child must walk
around the synagogue and onto the sidewalk, and re-enter from the front.

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Maya Bernstein is the Director of Leadership Education at Yeshivat Maharat and on faculty at Georgetown’s Institute for Transformational Leadership; her first collection is There Is No Place Without You (Ben Yehuda Press, 2022).

Photo credit: Hedva & Dan Photography


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