“Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.” Rabbi Heschel … Yom Kippur and 100TPC

Polish-American Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907 -1972)

It is interesting that the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, is being celebrated today at the same time that we are holding 100,000 Poets for Change (100TPC) around the world.  Last night I couldn’t help but think of Rabbi Herschel. I tend to connect well and deeply with those who practice their religions with respect for the mystical. Without mysticism religion is just dry cracker, something without much Life or Light.

Rabbi Hershel lost his family to bombings, Nazis, and the camps. During the war, he lived for awhile in Frankfurt. He was arrested by the Gestapo and sent back to Poland. In the melting pot that was 1950s Brooklyn, we had neighbors from Poland, people who had lost everything but their generosity of spirit. Some were Catholic and some were Jewish.

There was one family I particularly loved. I encountered Rabbi Herschel on their bookshelves when I sat with the children. The wife, a beautiful frail creature whose “shell shock” was clear to me even in my early teens, was none-the-less a good mother, wife and friend. The husband, a cantor and devoted family man, let me read whatever I found in English in their house. What was remarkable to me was that he was also willing to take the time to talk to me about what I read.  He encouraged me to speak my mind. With him, I never had to arm myself as the pretty dolt.

“If [a woman or man] were able to survey at a glance all he has done in the course of his life, what would he feel? He would be terrified at the extent of his own power.” Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Apropro this discssion, I was surprised (I shouldn’t have been) and charmed when I found Michael Dickel’s introduction to The BeZine 100TPC 2017 event wrapped around Yom Kippur. Here’s the introduction (below) … and when you are done reading perhaps you’ll pop over to The BeZine blog and share a poem and/or read those of others. You’d be very welcome.

– Jamie Dedes

American-Israeli Poet, Michael Dickel

This year, the last Saturday of September, the regular day for the Global 100,000 Poets for Change Events around the world, falls on Yom Kippur, considered the Holiest day of the Jewish religion. Observant Jews around the world are fasting, having spent the Days of Awe leading up to Yom Kippur asking the people in their lives for forgiveness and inventorying their transgressions against Creation. Today, we Jews go to synagogue and ask Creation (G-d) for forgiveness. Another name for Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement.

First, the order matters: We ask the people in our lives for forgiveness. Then we think how we have acted against the World. Then and only then do we turn to G-d for forgiveness.

Second, saying sorry is not enough, in our tradition. It is a start. In the Jewish tradition, people must also act differently, that is, they must enact the apology with a change in how they are in the world.

Third, human purpose can be understood—in how I have been taught—as working toward Tikkun Olam. Tikkun Olam is the repair or healing of Creation. While there is definitely a range of interpretations that could be made on what this healing entails, it certainly incorporates attention to the physical world as well as the spiritual. These two intertwine and interrelate in such a way as to be inseparable. Social Justice, Environmental Sustainability, and Peace—and writing, the arts, music in service of activism for positive change—are very relevant issues to our human purpose, from this view.

And thus, on the Holiest Day of the Jewish Year, it is appropriate to work toward Tikkun Olam, asking G-d’s forgiveness for all we have done that harms our fellow humans, inventorying our own role, and moving forward with action that shows our genuine desire to change and make things right again.

And, further, as the spiritual and the physical are interrelated, so are all of the arts (literature, art, music, dance, stage, film…), so are all three of the themes: Social Justice, Environmental Sustainability, and Peace.

So this year, on Yom Kippur, we ask you to join in with your contributions from any of the arts—share your efforts toward healing and repair of our World. As you do, remember this, paraphrased from the sages:

Do not despair at the iniquity and injustice of the world in which we live. For today, that is, in this period where injustice, racism, and greed seem to have risen to power, do not give up or give in.

It is not up to us to complete the work of Tikkun Olam, but this does not free us from working toward the healing and repair of Creation. That is, although we may not achieve our goals of a just, sustainable and peaceful world in our lifetime, we must continue to make progress, and in working toward them, the healing of Creation will occur, one poem, one essay, one novel, one painting, one sculpture, one song, one symphony, one performance at at a time…

By action, not words alone, will this be done. If ever there was a time when this action is more needed than others, certainly now is one—Resistance! Activism! Peace! Sustainability! Social Justice!

by Michael Dickel (Meta/Phor(e)/Play)

Ripples of Hope, Crossing Borders

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a [woman or] man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy South Africa, 1966

Today under the banner of 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change (100TPC) people the world over are gathered to stand up and stand together for PEACE, SUSTAINABILITY and SOCIAL JUSTICE.

Below is a sampling of the posters announcing these gatherings.They give you a small idea of how far-reaching this annual global event is and for which we have 100TPC cofounders Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion to thank.

Think on this when you are tempted to lose all hope for our species. Remember that – not just today, but everyday –  there are ripples and waves and tsunamis of faith and courage crossing borders in the form of poetry, stories, art, music, friendships and other acts of heroism. Hang tough. And do join The Bardo Group Beguines today at The BeZine blog to share your creative work and to enjoy the work of others. All are welcome no matter where in the world you live.



This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The BeZine’s virtual “live” 100,000 Poets (and friends) event … The Countdown Begins and YOU’RE INVITED!

Well, the Zine’s virtual “live” 100TPC Master of Ceremonies, Michael Dickel (Meta/ Phor(e) /Play), is doing the event from the Midwestern U.S. this year, not Israel, and I’m here in Northern California as back-up.

We have just a few hours to go before we begin The BeZine 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change, 2017 (100TPC), our biggest event of The BeZine year.  Do join us and bring your reading glasses and your work suggestive of peace, sustainability and social justice. Michael will get us started and I’ll be on hand to help put a wrap on things. We’ll run at least 24 hours to make it convenient for you to participate no matter where in the world you live.

You may have missed some of these posts that will clarify what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and how you can participate. Here are two posts that you’ll find helpful:

See you later at The BeZine blog!

“The Blood Serape,” and other ekphrastic poems by Paul Brookes

El sarape rojo (1918) by Mexican artist Alberto Garduño (1885-1948), Public Domain photograph

A shot like a backfiring car.
I lay full length on the border.
Still as midday sun.

Folk think me dead.
So fire back. I get up.
Skitter like a lizard.

Now sit here, wrapped
in this blood serape eyes flit
side to side as bullets zip by.

Not a time for dance so shakers
are sleeved above me. Soon victory
will give my life back like clarity.

Photograph by Paul Brookes

The Elephant

Stumped at my English homework.
We’d read Edward Lear
and homework says write
an absurd poem.

I can’t. I cry,
in front of Mam,

who writes one for me,
almost instantly,

and titles it:
“The Elephant With A Propeller For A Nose”

“The  elephant died and from his grave
Where would be a stone a propeller rose.”

is all I can recall.

Now good friends buy us
this elephant and her calf.

I see dark wooden sculptures
of lions, giraffes and elephants

stare down at me from mahogany
sideboards below Clwydian hills

in Grandad’s home.

Only later does Dad tell me
he was a merchant mariner
for his National Service.

In my memory home
I place the elephant and calf
on a coffee table.

Photograph by Paul Brookes

Rothko Meant Nothing

canvases painted in one colour.
Where the detail? I’ve painted
house walls with one colour.
Modern art is crap. Money
for nothing

then I saw the ordinary light
of a wintered Humber Estuary
subtle difference to the sky

and understood.

© 2017, Paul Brookes 

Paul Brookes

PAUL BROOKES (The Womwell Rainbow, Inspiration, History, Imagination) was a shop assistant, security guard, postman, admin. assistant, lecturer, poetry performer, with “Rats for Love” and his work included in “Rats for Love: The Book”, Bristol Broadsides, 1990. His first chapbook was “The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley”, Dearne Community Arts, 1993. He has read his work on BBC Radio Bristol and had a creative writing workshop for sixth formers broadcast on BBC Radio Five Live. Recently published in Clear Poetry, Nixes Mate, Live Nude Poems and others.

This spring 2017 Paul’s  illustrated chapbook The Spermbot Blues, was published by OpPRESS. Other recent collections include A World Where.  Recent magazine publications inclue Clear Poetry, Nixes Mate Mate Review, Live Nude Poems, The Bees Are Dead and others. His work has been featured in The BeZineHe participates regularly in The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt. I [Jamie} am currently reading Paul’s upcoming collection, She Needs that Edge and writing a cover blurb.  So far so Great! 🙂