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The Space between us  

Dedicated to eradicating hate crimes against religious groups

 

When it’s one of us, it’s all of us. In a world so obsessed with labels and sub-divisions, there are moments that remind us that we are one community. When the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting happened, we knew as Jews and as writers and as artists we had to respond.  It was our community, it was a six hour drive away, it was our country.

But then not even six months later, our brethren were viciously attacked half a world away. The shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand was something we could have shrugged off. We could have let it become another community’s tragedies, even as more attacks are perpetrated.

But we did not. We would not.

When it’s one of us, it’s all of us. This was what we put on the board when we asked our staff to react to these tragedies, as well as the number of people who were murdered in Charleston, Pittsburgh and New Zealand. What you are about to read are their responses.

We are all human beings. The spaces between us are those that we impose. This is our space to remember that.

When it’s one of us, it’s all of us.

Yogi sragow

Shanee Gabbay

Note to Self

By Allison Gellerstein


I forgive you.
Three words to your three. (I’m sorry). They're easy enough to say.
It's harder, though, to forget that my chest constricts when I think about the things you did. It's like there's a pit between my lungs that pricks me every time I breath. It's a grief that sharpens as I cry.
What you did is in the past, but I don't know how to get around it. Sisyphus's rock will always tumble back down. What happened happened, despite all the alternative realities I could play out in my mind. I don't want to keep my head up with the clouds and the peak of Sisyphus's mountain. I want tomorrow to be better for all of us, stuck with our feet on the ground.
I've had enough of treating myself like a victim. You may be the villain but carrying your weight along with me is too much. Atlas carried the weight of the world, but it's not my burden to bear. Instead I'll treat you as someone who made a mistake. That mistake had real consequences, but what's a mistake if not a decision gone wrong.
I've had enough of feeling wrong all the time. It's like kicking a pebble along the road as I walk. There's no purpose, no end goal in dragging that weight with me. In the end I'll lose track of the pebble anyway, so I'll just forgive you now. Save myself the heartache in between.
You just are.
Apologies and all.
I forgive you.

SEela Langer 

forty-nine

By Seela Langer

 

before the fatality number hit fifty

when it was still at an uneven forty-nine

immediately my mind cast back

 

to three years ago

and another batch of tears

and another forty-nine graves

those much closer to home

half a country away

not half a world

 

but orlando and new zealand are just far away places

 

my heart bleeds for pulse

i pray tears for christchurch

 

everyday i wake up to war

one on every different piece of my identity

i get torn apart by the world

it takes a bite out of me

i get spit upon

 

if i want to put on armor

i’d have to lose the body i am trying to protect

 

back then i wrote pages and angry pages

broken graphite

tense words

desperate questions

my reaction is not as hot now

now i am expertly equipped to deal with pain

i’ve seen bigger numbers

cried more tears

wrote more words

 

until i stopped

 

this war

sometimes i don’t have the troops to fight

 

and we are losing more everyday

but i refuse to beg for my life

refuse to bow to you

 

i love God but you say He hates me

you hate God but you say worship the star

 

i asked my mother once if i would ever be safe

all of me

ever loved because of who i am

 

she told me not to ask

‘you won’t like the answer’

Casualties 

By Mia Hahn 

 

Nine

Eleven

Fifty

How many must we go through

Until we unite

Under the human race

 

Nine

Eleven

Fifty

How long will it take

Until we realize

That this is not the natural order

 

Nine

Eleven

Fifty

Why should we live through fear

And constantly walk under our shadows

 

Nine

Eleven

Fifty

Why do the ones on top

Demand the lives of those below them

 

Nine

Eleven

Fifty

When will the time come

When we can finally stick together

 

Nine

Eleven

Fifty

When do I have to stop turning the corner

Wondering if someone is staring

 

At my kippah

At my burka

At my cross

At my turban

 

Look instead

 

Towards my goals

Towards my meaning

Towards my life

Towards my feelings

 

Nine

Eleven

Fifty

People

Banding together

 

Because in the end

It’s all of us

Shanee Gabbay

rami fink 

The Connection Between Us

By Chava Nagel

‚Äč

Even though we may all seem apart there is something that holds us together. There is some invisible force that binds us to one another. We are drawn to each other.

Connections are formed before we are even born. We are born into a world where two people love us blindly without even knowing our identities. They care for us no matter who we become. This act of kindness is what shapes children into loving adults who do the same for the next child. Families connect and build each other up in an ongoing cycle.

Connections are formed when people bond with each other. At very young ages children interact with each other and serve as each others’ role models. Laughter rings throughout the hallways of schools, where children partake in an important part of life, where they meet extraordinary individuals. We learn from the others around us, and the people we choose to spend our time with build our character. Friendships form and show us who we are.

Connections are formed when people put faith in each other. Faith is the trust we put in one another. Faith is the safety provided for each other. Faith is the comfort we give during hard times. At the end of the day we rely on our peers. People revolve around others. When one of us is down is when the connection becomes stronger. Tragedy reminds us that we need each other. A death is when we band together. We are connected.

Lara jacobowitz 

meira barenholtz

Seventy

By Brooke Kohl

 

The numbers nine and eleven already carry so much pain

Why add more?

What joy comes from stealing lives?

 

The number fifty has in the past been innocent

Why taint it now?

What joy comes from killing so many?

 

Nine dead

Eleven dead

Fifty dead

 

Seventy people dead

 

Seventy people to add to the ever-growing list

of people murdered

And for what reason?

 

The number seventy used to carry so much happiness

Why turn it bittersweet?

What joy comes from tearing apart our world?

 

We are threatened

Can we really feel safe?

Seventy dead

Seventy, plus countless others

whose breaths have long been gone

 

We must stay strong

And stay together

We are all affected by tragedies of others

Everyone’s pain is our own

 

In the wake of seventy tragedies

We need hope

We must shoulder the sky together

And bear all the burdens in this world

rami fink

When It's One of Us It's All of Us

By Adina Bak

 

People always seem to be in a hurry. Where are they going? Are they even trying to rush somewhere, or are they trying to avoid wasting time? Stop, look in the ocean of kids swarming the halls: one person’s view on life is about to change. They will never be the same. The bell rings spreading the message that the students hurry to class where they never have learned a single lesson of life.

As a foreign animal trying to enter a pack, Jacob tries to meet his peers. He longs to smile or even make eye contact, but alas he can’t. He feels a strong invisible barrier around himself as he goes from class to class. He isn’t just an ordinary new kid. He wears the symbol of his religion. He doesn't hide it, though he wish he did.

He sits down at lunch outside by himself and takes out his lunch from home since he can’t eat the food from the school that the other kids eat.

A tall kid with a very cruel voice says “Hey you!”

Jacob looks up with hope that he is about to make his first new friend. The boy grabs Jacob's symbol and throws in on the ground. Then Jacobs stands up in an attempt to defend himself only to find that he’s surrounded by three boys.

The other one says, “Who do you think you are? Think you’re special?”

“Give it back,” he says.

“Why don’t you go ask your God for help?” says the first boy as he pushes him on to the pavement.

The boys start kicking him. Jacob tastes his bitter blood.

“Stop it!” someone cries out.

“What did he do to you?” says another.

The boys stop kicking and look up. They are surrounded by hundreds of kids.

Jacob looks up to see the mob coming to rescue him. He isn’t sure if it was just his imagination, but he can’t believe what he was seeing. Every kid has a symbol, but most didn’t have Jacob’s symbol. Some had a star, some had a cross, some had peace, some had a moon. In the end it doesn’t matter which symbol they have. When it’s one of us, it’s all of us.

We're in this Together

By Allison Gellerstein

 

What can I offer you but stale coffee and saccharine words

Fresh coffee might help

But my words won’t do you any good

 

I can give you my shadow

a presence in the void

Your hand held in mine near your heart

We’re in this together

But you are lost in a faraway world

So I’m left to just stand by your side

 

They ask us a question

How will this change us

We’re coming together hopefully

Maybe as one we can do something

 

All I can do is stand next you

Never leaving your side

All the stability I can offer

 

I ask myself a question

What am I going to do

The answer comes hard

It seems you are begging to know

Where do I stand

 

I stand next to you

With fresh coffee in hand

Which is change enough for now

As I give you a silence in which you can grieve

Jojo schachter

Lara jacobowitz

Jojo schachter