Last night, I paid a Shiva call to a family that is not in my synagogue community. During the service, I had a very different experience with my favorite prayer, the Amidah, during which you pray alone, in the midst of community. In my community, the overwhelming majority of congregants prays silently. In the community of the Shiva family, the tradition is to quietly read the prayer aloud (either in English or Hebrew). Because of this, I was unable to form words for my own prayers, so I stood and prayed without them.

In the midst of this, a phrase came to me “There is greatness.” Today, I wrote this poem:

There is greatness
in standing with community
silently communing
amidst a whispering cacophony.

There is greatness
in the quiet din of prayer
two languages harmonizing
when words are unnecessary.

There is greatness
in standing before God
open to a new path of dialogue
direct discourse without wording.

There is greatness
in knowing that prayer is heard
in poetry presenting itself
in the quiet calm of community’s voice.


About armsakimbobook

I'm a mother, a lawyer, a feminist, a writer, a potter, and an inveterate and unapologetic New Yorker. My book, Arms Akimbo: A Journey of Healing, tells of my journey of healing over a number of years, learning to live a full life after I was molested by my father at a very young age. I live in Maynard, MA, with my wife and and our two moose-cats, Samson and Hercules. My daughter used to live with me part-time, but she's all grown up now and in her junior year of college, which I can't quite fathom, since she was born about five minutes ago...
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2 Responses to Greatness

  1. Sharon Solomon says:



  2. Deb S says:

    Love it


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