in this issue
In this Issue
where to buy us
wingate literary prize
contact us

Alefs in Wonderland
UK Jewish Film Festival
Jewish Book Council
Nextbook: A gateway to Jewish culture, literature and ideas
Institute for Jewish Policy Research
Jewish Community Centre for London
All About Jewish Theatre
Zeek: a Jewish Journal of Thought and culture
European Association for Jewish Culture


Ten Landscapes of Community as Home

by Corie Feiner

Corie Feiner  |  Spring 2008  -  Number 209


‘A scholar should not reside in a city where the following ten things are not found: A court of justice that imposes flagellation and decrees penalties, a charity fund, a synagogue, public baths, a convenience, a circumciser, a surgeon, a notary, a slaughterer, and a schoolmaster.’

                    Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 17a

1. The Court

The trial was my father’s
raised hand.
The witness was
my brother in the
big blue room
The judge was my mother
in her oily robe.
I was the corpse.

2. The Charity Fund

One Passover, no one
showed up
and every plague
was laid to rest.
I wanted to dip a bitter herb
into my mother’s eyes.
“We have no money,”
she said.
I brought her my red
piggy bank, the pennies
rattling like locusts and hail.

3. The Synagogue

One blue room.
one eternal flame.
two electric candelabras.
The cantor in whose mouth
began the origin of e.
The black robed rabbi
in whose arms parted air.
Not Moses. Not Jesus. Not Jacob.

4. The Public Bath

My brother in yellow
goggles. The warm
hand-splashed waves. Beneath
a blanket once, he kissed
my unleavened tongue.

5. The Outhouse

My father punched
a hole in the
bathroom wall in place
of my brother’s jaw.
Right hook, one, two,
through sheetrock
and metal bars.
We tore down the wall,
rebuilt it at an angle,
retiled the floor.  Joked
that my brother’s lie
about his unwashed hands
remodeled our lonely home.

6. The Circumciser

Look, kids, I’m home from the
fat farm. Don’t I look great?

7. The Surgeon

My mother immersed my thumb
into a sink of warm water until
my splinter germinated into a
dandelion seed.
She lifted my skin with a hot
needle and squeezed my thumb
until the blackened earth bled.

8. The Notary

I am the notary documenting
our every move. Each book
As me as my witness. Amen.

9. The Slaughter

The divorce was not a surprise.
Still my mother reached
for my father’s hard thigh after
we ate Chinese food and said
goodbye. I sat on the stairs
chewing my salty hangnail.

10. The Schoolmaster

Now, when I teach, I hear
myself say things like,
“When you breathe, push out
your belly. Open your heart,
every book lives with the potential
to be opened.”

Poet and Performer, Corie Feiner, is the author of Radishes into Roses and publishes her work regularly in journals, anthologies, and literary magazines.  She performs her work internationally and has been featured in The New York Times, Backstage Magazine, Metro News and on NY1. She is the Poetry Editor of The Bellevue Literary Review. You can learn more about her on her website:

  © 2006 Jewish Quarterly | All rights reserved