Growing Up an American Jew – 2 Poems

American Jewish Identity. Woody Allen via Flickr user Luis Fernando Reis. Kotel and Auschwitz via Wikimedia Commons.

2 Poems  by Sophie Katzman:


Descendant’s Blessing

Zadie. Zionist. Yellow stars. Young and old

yearning for years passed. Yahrzeit. Yiddush:

lyb, sholem. War. Woody Allen. Leaving

notes on the Western Wall. The V’ahavta.

U-blessed by the Orthodox Union. Torah.

Tzedakah. Tikkun Olam, we repair

the world. Shabbat. Sternberg Sewing.

Samuel’s Metal Shop. Schlep.

Shylock. Phillip Roth. Repent

on Yom Kippur. Queen Esther. Purim. Praised

are you. Never Again. Matzoh. Money.

Mourning. Love. Light. Kvetching

and Kvelling. Jerry Seinfeld.

Jerusalem our home. Israel. Independence.

Hatikvah: Hope. Hebrew school. Hamentashen.

Alan Ginsberg. G-d grant us peace,

free us from oppression. Food:

They tried to kill us, we survived

so let’s eat! Escape. Ethics. Eighteen. Doctors.

Deuteronomy, the fifth book. Star of David.

Challah. Candles for all the bodies

never buried. Eight nights of Chanukah.

Boca, Bagels, blintzes.

Bubbie’s house. Blessed are you

Adonai our G-d.Anne Frank.

Adam Sandler. Amen.


Elegy to my Bat Mitzvah Dress

Your silk sash clung to me

tied in a lavish bow

pearl pink, elegant, sweet

button after button

lining the back bodice.


My hands graced your silk fabric

as I walked the bridge

between innocence and virtue,

while words

of harmonious Hebrew

slipped from my tongue,

while Rachel and Leah

whispered into my ears

prayer after prayer.


Slow dances

only smooth

because of the way

your skirt swung me,

nerves only calm

because of your beauty

that lifted me

as my chair bounced

in the air.


Your flowers gave me one last chance

to run through the fields,

your sequins, one last time to sparkle

before the night’s end

when the buttons came undone

thirteen in total,

one for each of those years.



Sophie Katzman is a student at Trinity College.

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