Reflections: Reclaiming Village Life

By: Shayna Zema

Hundreds of crumpled up pieces of paper
A variety of colors
A myriad of words written in multiple languages

I sit on my bench and write my own
With a blue pen and lined notebook pieces of paper
I look at the kever of Rabbi Elimelech
I think of the smile and joy he brought to Lażajsk
I imagine the thousands of chasidim dancing in the narrow cobblestone streets
The innumerable tzitzis jumping
Floods of black yarmulkes gathering
But today there is silence
The cemetery, ohel, and city center empty

Yet there is an ever-present spirit here
I am filled with an unexplainable calm,
A smile even,
As I read my letter silently in prayer
And light a candle as a manifestation of my commitment to faith

I entered a shul with grandeur and grace
Colors, verses, and a presence
That filled us all with wonder and astonishment
Yet the building’s modesty on the outside
Was not what was most surprising;
It was the humble, quiet man who stood inside
Wiping the dust off each Hebrew letter
With a big white beard that rose as he lifted his cheeks
I was filled with a sense of hope
To see the future as one of present preservation
Of finding the vacancy of spirituality and religion
To be thoroughly occupied


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