Literary Magazine 2015 - Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy


Literary Magazine 2015 - Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy
Artist’s Notebook
This journal is dedicated
in loving memory of
Felice Hamada Schoenberg
Felice Hamada Schoenberg
The books that filled shelf after shelf in our basement were covered with blue ink. My
mother’s notes in neat, slanted script filled the margins, and important passages were
underlined with perfectly straight lines. My mother, an English teacher, was educated in the
days when good penmanship was considered a virtue.
The weight of the books caused the old wooden shelves to sag, but that didn’t stop my mother
from placing two rows of paperbacks on some shelves, in alphabetical order.
In the bottom left corner were dozens of Agatha Christie mysteries — stories of Hercule
Poirot and Ms. Marple. But most of the shelves were taken up with classics — Austen,
Hemingway, Kafka, Melville, Shakespeare — many with yellowed pages and notes dotting
the margins.
After my mother died in 1989, I would go downstairs each fall to pick out the books on my
Hebrew Academy reading list. I never minded having to pick pages up off my desk after they
fell out of the books’ loosened spines.
As a teacher and then a lawyer, my mother loved literature, and her life was shaped by words
and language. An intellectual from a young age, she studied English at Barnard College. I still
have faded pictures showing her in her light blue graduation gown posed happily near the
campus gates.
When my ninth grade English teacher asked me to write the dedication for the first edition of
this literary journal, established in my mother’s memory, I flipped through some old books,
finding inspiration in my mother’s handwriting. Today, as I write this dedication more than a
decade later, I know my mother would be proud to have this journal as her legacy.
Thank you to the students, faculty and administrators, and particularly to Barbie Lehmann
Siegel and the Felice Schoenberg Academic Enrichment Fund, who have perpetuated my
mother’s memory by making this journal possible.
Shira Schoenberg (’99), 2006
A HUGE thank you to this year’s Artists!!!
This year we received over 42 individual pieces.
Yehuda Turniansky
Isaac Feld
Reena Wasserstein
Shoshana Kott
Leor Fischman
Amit Gerstein
Eleanna Weissman
Amir Wertheimer
Arianna Stone
Eleanna Weissman
Casey Fuller
Shani Brieitstein
Shira Rabinowitz:
Shayna Shor
Talya Miller
Sara Byer
Amitai Diamont
Tani Levisohn
Kenneth M. Book
Pazit Rabinowitz
Zach Fogel
Eliana Lebson
Daniella Fishman
Chani Dorfman
Rachel Tsimmerman
Moshe Mehlman (10)
Edited by Eleanna Weissman
Cover Art by Shoshana Kott
Faculty Advisor: Sarah Antine, Director
Deborah Lerner Gross Jewish Cultural Arts Center
Berman Hebrew Academy
The Author
Yehuda Turniansky
Every poem, every art, every story, every song
They all have feelings inside them.
The people who made them
made them with feelings in mind.
Feelings of longing, feelings of joy, feelings of sadness, feelings of
If it's all wasted by readers
Then why are there readers?
Reading this one of a kind?
Every stanza, every stroke, every sentence, every verse
They can't know the feelings in it.
They can't understand it.
Only The Author's not blind.
He put the feelings in them.
Art by Shoshana Kott
Art by Amit Gerstein
“Underneath my outside face
There’s a face that none can see.
A little less smiley,
A little less sure,
But a whole lot more like me.”
- Shel Silverstein Every Thing On It
Art by Eleanna Weissman
"We write to find out what we have to say" –Mr. Rodgers
Life is complicated. Life is difficult. It is confusing and frustrating. Passionate and exciting. It is a jumble of emotions, which, when combined,
creates a whole world of possibilities. People, especially me, are the
same. I am difficult to figure out and hard to please, but I am also easily
exhilarated. I am a combination of opposites and I am uniquely me. I’m
like a chameleon, constantly adapting to my environment. I embrace
change and use it to better understand myself.
What am I? Such a basic question with such a difficult and constantly changing answer. I am a girl, a daughter, a friend, a sister, a
babysitter, a role model, an athlete, a musician, a student, and so much
more. Nothing can define me, except myself. I am unique and indescribable. I’m quirky and funny, poised and sophisticated, serious and responsible, and everything in between. I’m every opposite combined. I’m
strong willed and strong headed, but soft hearted. I laugh and cry and
sing like everyone else but the way I do things is what makes me different. I’m set apart by the fact that everything about me defies what I
should be. I defy typecasting that I cannot do as well as another based
on my height, gender, or religion. I resent the fact that some believe I
am only capable of so much. I constantly push my limits to see how
much I can take. And, like a rubber band, I always stretch to achieve my
goals. I can do anything I want, and nothing and no one can stand in my
way. I am unstoppable.
Shira Rabinowitz
I'm not a horse that needs to be broken into
I am a crazy stallion that will not be tamed
my wild soul cannot be controlled
I will flee the nest break, down the walls, and
gallop away
not running for my troubles
But little loose just a little
life ain't short and I want to enjoy the brief
if I stumble from the saddle I will climb up
once more
Keeping a steady pace to overcome my obstacles
I will rear to any challenge and conquer any
fears that try to lasso me in
the world is my pastor and I plan to graze
over at all
never letting any pesky flies ruined my day.
Tali Trencher
We confuse ourselves between who we want to be,
Who others want us to be,
And who we really are.
More often than not we don’t really know,
Yet we are immature and foolish,
So we pretend to be someone we are really not.
We dumb down and weaken ourselves
so others can feel better around us,
What power we give the ones around us.
Which they only use to break us down.
And the ones who trust has been set in front of, often throw it around,
Thinking that no matter how many times they break it,
It will always be there.
And we’d all like to think that this isn’t true,
That the betrayed will walk away from the betrayer.
Yet sometimes being strong is sticking around,
For the sake of others.
It isn’t a sign of weakness,
But rather of strength.
A test so to speak,
Of how strong a person can really be in the face of lies.
And maybe this will bring out the person we want to be,
But the glass fogs up and we question whether this is real,
Or if we are just being the person that they want us to be.
Is it strength? Or is it just being fake?
Merely a façade of fake,
That we all use to disguise the reality behind the mask.
Reena Wasserstein
I cry gold
He says
Because of the gold flecks
In my big brown eyes.
I cry gold
Because it makes me happy
That he is happy.
I cry gold
But it isn’t really my choice
He makes me.
I cry gold
Even though my eyes are tired
And I want to stop,
But he threatens to leave me
A freak who cries gold
So I cry more.
I cry gold
To bring us together,
But all it does
Is leave me alone.
It turns out I laugh diamonds.
But he never found out
Too busy making me cry.
But I am happy now.
I found safety
I found comfort
I found love
And it turns out
I laugh diamonds.
Art by Eleanna Weissman
Painted Smile
Talya Miller
I walk through the halls
with a smile painted on my face,
a recorded laugh coming out of my mouth
People with empty faces push by me to get to class.
Girls walking with me
turn into worst enemies in seconds,
I sit alone at lunch,
at a table full of girls.
I walk home by myself
two steps behind my neighbors.
My heart beats out of my chest
after texting my friend, ‘hi’,
my phone remaining silent the rest of the night.
I walk into school,
a girl runs up to me by my locker
and smiles,
The painted smile on my face begins to fade,
the carefully covered one chipping away at its mask.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So
you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has
made all the difference in my life.”
- Steve Jobs
Sara Byer
Live life to the fullest
Transcendentalism is
To be great,
Is to be misunderstood.
When you leave your own trail
When there`s already a path.
You should not live with
Hurry or
Rather to discover
What you have not lived.
To see miraculous
In the common.
But not to waste
The life
That we have.
Live deliberately,
Live life
To the fullest.
It is the nature
That can`t be changed
Not by man,
The air,
The river,
Or the leaf.
Transcendentalism is
Life passing you by.
Sara Byer
Live life to the fullest
Transcendentalism is
To be great,
Is to be misunderstood.
When you leave your own trail
When there`s already a path.
You should not live with
Hurry or
Rather to discover
What you have not lived.
To see miraculous
In the common.
But not to waste
The life
That we have.
Live deliberately,
Live life
To the fullest.
It is the nature
That can`t be changed
Not by man,
The air,
The river,
Or the leaf.
Transcendentalism is
Life passing you
50:25 ‫בראשית‬
‫צְ מֹ תַ ימִ זֶּ ה‬-ַ‫הַ עֲ לִ תֶ םאֶ תע‬,ְ‫ פָּ קֹדיִ פְ קֹד אֱ קיםאֶ תְ כֶםו‬:‫בְּ ניִֵישְׂ רָ אֵ ל לֵאמֹר‬-‫אֶ ת‬,‫וַ יַּ שְׁ בַּ עיוֹ סֵ ף‬
And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying: 'God will surely remember you, and
ye shall carry up my bones from hence.'
“I have left my bones here so you will have hope.
Hope will lead you out of this place
It will make you believe in leaving.” Zach Fogel
"I was waiting as a symbol of hope
like seeds that will one day bloom." - Eliana Lebson
Daniella Fishman
Alone under the cold ground
footsteps and whipping right above me.
I’m under here as a symbol,
a symbol of hope.
There’s a G-d above,
never forget.
I’m here for a reason
I wish I was home
I’m here for you guys
Know that I’m here
dig further and further
I’m here, find me
like you’re looking for gold
wrapped in the Egyptian way of death.
G-d put me here to be a diamond of hope,
to shine through the darkness
and bring that hope.
Chani Dorfman
Don’t Forget me. I lie still and quiet
and wait for you to come
to take me to my fathers.
Don’t forget me.. I am your hope.
I provide light when you’re lost in the dark
like a child in a forest.
You must remember to carry your hope.
Don’t forget me. I waited here for you
like a dog for its master. Remember
to bring me. Don’t forget me
because forgetting me is like forgetting who you are.
Don’t forget me. Carry my bones like
you would carry your children; close and
cautious, making sure they are not disturbed.
Rachel Tsimmerman
Living in Egypt is like living as an overworked goat
My bones like anchors, never float
Once God remembers, it will be like a hunt
and you bring me home, to the place that I want.
Working like cows, praying like wolves
Seeds of hope are more or less bones.
When God remembers us we’ll be like plants.
Moshe Mehlman (10th grade)
“…My bones are like the roots of the Jews
My bones are like the beginning of slavery,
it will only end when my bones leave.”
Patiently Waiting
Eleanna Weissman
Thaw his hands
For they have stilled
And the sun is no longer rising
In that beautiful dawn
That inspires our eyes
To continue seeing.
He feels asleep
To those that try to find
The mighty wonder
Of his finger’s touch
That legend says
Made the world.
But He breathes
Meaning in our ears
Like a quiet sigh
Of lifting wind
Or soothing whispers
As we fall asleep.
There is no finding Him,
He is always here,
Sitting, watching,
On for the Ride
Talya Miller
Life is a train
on the tracks into the distance,
with all of us on for the ride.
Some may receive a first class ticket,
free meals, big comfy seats.
while some may have to sit with the luggage.
squished, bits of food here and there,
never quite sure what will last.
There are many stops and blockades along the way,
but the train keeps chugging along,
until it reaches your destination
and finally decides to let you off.
Yehuda Turniansky
Life can be unfair
Life can be unequal
Life is some like school
Life is some like spring
Life is like school
Life has some greats
Life has some weaks
Life makes us learn
Soon we will graduate
Life is like spring
Life has the bloomed
Life has the bare
Life makes us grow
Art by Yapha Rosen
“When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence
leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret
about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.”
— Patrick Rothfuss
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he
grows up.”
-Pablo Picasso
Where are the Stars
Eleanna Weissman
Once Upon a Time, I was young.
The world was Gold.
My arms were free enough
To almost, almost,
Reach the stars.
I could see the world,
From my castle in the clouds.
In a land far far away,
There was no Yesterday,
I had enough Time
To live in the moment
And wish on the stars.
I could feel the clouds
From my castle in the sky.
And then, I grew up.
Stars, come back to me,
Grab my hand and pull me high
High, oh high, into the sky
Sprinkle some gold so I can fly
Like Peter Pan
To Neverland
I don’t want to grow up
Can I stop getting older?
I want to stay young forever,
I want to rule the world
From my castle in the sky
Time! Stop!
You’re going to fast.
Where is my young,
Where are the stars,
Please go back.
What’s the hurry, why the rush?
Why are you flying?
I want the fun to last.
Art by Shoshana Kott
Tani Levisohn
When I was a kid my mom would take me to the candy store.
“you can pick out one candy” she would say.
There were succulent Sunkist and delicious Double Bubble.
I would stand there evaluating the candies for, to my mom at least
seemed like hours.
I would feel the weight of the world on my shoulders contemplating
Which sugar infused synthetic I would devour in a matter of seconds.
When I was a kid those were the decisions I had to make.
I never had to worry about a deceitful Dum Dum or a backstabbing
I never had to worry about failing my Chem test because I went
with the kit-kat.
But in the world we all live in there’s much more to our choices
than a stomach ache.
We live in a world where not only do our decisions have cavities,
they have consequences.
We live in a world where sometimes de-cide is synonymous with
Failure to see the other side.
But in spite of the fact that our decisions shape us our cognitive
Entices us to believe that we don’t shape our decisions.
In this unforgiving world we live in decisions mascaraed as excuses
Controlling our subconscious life to the point of absurdity.
Yet still, when placed in front of us candy and poison, time and
time again, we pick the poison.
I guess it’s just ignorance.
Or maybe it’s ignore-ance
of the blatant warning signs on the label that we see but refuse to
And even our decisions are born from previous decisions
Because sometimes in order to pick the candy you have to walk
into the right store.
Dump a Stack of Papers
Amitai Diamont
When I was a toddler, before I could read, I played with toy trucks, I
wanted to be a builder. I wanted to be like Bob, helping other people. I
wanted to be able to look back and see the shed, the house I had built.
Take all the pieces, nail them together, in the heat of the sun, sweating,
so I could look back at the thing I'd built, at the person I'd helped. I rode
that little metal dump truck at lightning speed, to get the job done, to
see my completed work.
Until dreams were dumped into a landfill.
I was introduced to symbols, numbers, letters. They had never meant
anything to me. People drawing them were wasting their time, it resembled less than any of my scribbles. My scribbles, atleast were meant to
look like something, it definitely looked nothing like anything. I had to
learn to use these. Why? If you want me to say something I could tell
you in English. Is this really how people communicate, are they shy?
Afraid to call out. I was dumped into a life of handwriting, then sentence
writing then, paragraph, essay, research paper, thesis.
Now that I can use those shapes, I read shapes that come from the @
shape, and tap buttons to make more shapes to satisfy the @ shapes.
Just to get more and more @ shapes? The accountant gets stacks of paper full of numbers, he looks at them and sends symbols and acronyms
back and forth. IRA for oh one parenthesis Kay parenthesis. They send
him a cut to put in his own acronyms and numbers.
Just so they can specialize in their own @ signs.
They can send stacks be filed they can respond to emails. But when they
look back at their accomplishments all they'll see is a stack, of emails, of
A builder doesn't make the same big stacks of cash but when
he looks back he sees houses, sheds, closets, livable, usable,
Art by Amit Gerstein
Ode to a Snow Day
Pazit Rabinowitz
Praise to hot chocolate on a frigid day,
A burned tongue in a snowstorm.
Praise to white snow glittering on the hill,
Covered in tracks from my blue sled.
Praise to a crackling fire
Drying wet clothes, keeping out the cold.
Praise to the snow inside my glove,
The burning coldness on my hand.
Praise to a day of freezing fun,
Praise to a snow day.
Daniel Schoff
Pancakes, the flat, round crepes that have brought such joy to so many since
prehistoric times, do not excite the culinary interest like deviled eggs or warm the body like
oatmeal. They are a hybrid meal, the perfect mixture of the substantial and the sweet,
satisfying the consumer’s needs for both energy and taste. Formed by a simple mixture of
flour, eggs, oil and sugar, the pancake batter evokes in its simplicity the potential for
greatness. On this particular spring morning, as the oil began to sizzle in the pan, the world
began to awaken both within the kitchen and without. Sunlight poured through the kitchen
window, washing the table and chairs with radiant light. The tree directly outside of the
window was teeming with excitement and anticipation for the coming day. The birds were
singing their sweet, melodious tones. The squirrels were chasing each other from branch to
branch. The deer were running through the forest, moving gracefully on their long legs
through the maze of trees, making a game out of their search for food. And those inside were
beginning to amble into the kitchen, the center of the home, the place where each day
The same energy that lifted the spirits of the birds, squirrels, and deer, also seemed
to invigorate the pancake batter as it spread across the pan. Under the watchful presence of
the spatula, the pancake batter sizzled loudly, announcing its arrival in its new, temporary
home. At first, it seemed to me as if it would leave no room for additional pancakes, happy to
receive all of the attention. But one smaller circle of batter squeezed in, not challenging the
first pancake so much as sharing its
space. I could not help watching the
first pancake though, having already
claimed it as my own. As my brother
bounded into the kitchen, I informed
him that he was welcome to eat the
smaller one. The batter seemed to
take a long time to mature into a
more solid texture, with bubbles first
appearing on the edges, then
advancing towards the pancake’s
core. The constant heat from the pan
and attention from the spatula to
grow stronger, as they encouraged
the young batter to form its own
shape. One was, indeed, conscious of
Art by Isaac Feld
a growing feeling of curiosity and
uncertainty about which form the
pancake might take. Will it form a near perfect circle? I wondered. Will it look oblong like a
football? While the spatula hopes to mold the immature pancake into a uniform, solid, circle,
even it does not know how its handiwork will turn out. Watching as each individual bubble
popped, transforming itself into a small piece of the new, more developed pancake, I
imagined both the pain of being placed above the scalding stove along with the satisfaction of
forming an identity. As the bubbling slowed from its previous rate, indicating that the
pancake no longer needed the pan’s heat as much as it did in its batter stage. As the sizzle
grew less audible, I could almost see the separation forming between the pancake and its
heat source. The connection which once existed so strongly between the batter and the pan
was beginning to grow tenuous. Since its exterior appeared to be ready, the spatula
attempted to raise it momentarily from the pan in order to flip it onto its other side, knowing
that part of the pancake’s interior remained raw and gooey. With great care and precision,
the spatula gingerly slid itself under the pancake, making sure not to damage the shape, and
with a quick, fluid motion, turned the pancake onto its other side. At a crossroads, the
pancake is in a significant moment in its development. If it flips prematurely, it could splatter
and flop, perhaps unable to ever progress to it next stage of development. If it takes too long
to flip, it could end up burned out before it can thrive on its own. Watching it fall back to the
pan, it seemed as if every delicious particle were united in the effort to form its expected
spherical shape, even as they strive to create a unique entity.
Despite the support from his pan and spatula, the pancake yearned for something
more; desiring toppings to fill his life with excitement and color. As the first blueberries
sunk into the pancake, my neighbors, drawn to the irresistible aroma, bounded into my
house, heading for the kitchen. Such vigor filling the kitchen with youthful energy
made it difficult to keep my eyes strictly turned to the pan and her cake. Distracted by
the hubbub in the kitchen, it took me a few moments to notice the pancake’s reaction
to the addition of blueberries. The pancake’s still-soft batter began to envelop the new
arrivals, hardening around them, forming new attachments as he prepares to leave his
home. As I witnessed the bond between batter and blueberry, I could fancy that a gap
began to form between the pancake and his nurturer. He seemed ready to leave.
Or was he? As the sturdy and reliable spatula prepared to transport him to the
awaiting plate and the world beyond, he seemed to resist, sticking to the griddle that
he had known since inception. Yet, because he was so tenacious, clinging to the
familiar, the warmth, the easy acceptance of his home, there was something relatable
but tragic about him. Waiting to eat before I moved on with my day, I empathized,
recognizing the struggle between what is comfortable and what is necessary. The
pancake’s sole purpose of entering the pan was to eventually be able to leave it.
After a time, it seemed as though the pancake would not relent, settling in the
pan for the duration, and, realizing that my breakfast was potentially ruined, I forgot
about it, shifting my attention towards the Cocoa Puffs. Then, looking up, my eye was
caught by the glint of light reflected off the spatula rising slowly from the pan, carrying
its handiwork to my plate. Yet, because he was so humble a form of the energy that
was within me, and replicating a process that unfolds within me and, in fact, all other
human beings, there was something relatable and untouchable about him. It was as if
the breakfast, created simply with a few essential ingredients, had sizzled and bubbled
across the pan to remind us how fleeting childhood really is. As I reached out my plate
to help the pancake achieve its mission, it came over me that the batter in the pan was
childhood, and the little pancake had grown up. I put my plate back down, no longer
The pancake sizzled no more. The pancake sat by itself, untouched on the
kitchen table. But soon I distracted myself with discussion around the kitchen with my
family and friends. My father explained his firm’s latest case, my mother asked us kids
what we wanted for lunch, my brothers laughed at an inside joke, and my neighbors
suggested that we should perhaps lock our doors. As I finished my cereal, I looked
around. What had happened? It was 8 a.m., and the activity and commotion had
almost entirely disappeared. Calm and quiet had replaced the previous liveliness. The
neighbors returned to their home. My brothers ran off to play football with their
friends. My Dad went to check his fantasy football team. So did my mom. I sat alone
with my pancake. The pancake, who tried to preserve its youth, what most see as
merely a stepping stone to adulthood, with such strength, inspired me to appreciate
my childhood. Noticing the clock, I realized that I was late for basketball practice and
grabbed the pancake as I ran out the door. As I did so, I felt nostalgia for all of the
pancakes of my childhood, from pre-school to high-school. The pancake in my hand,
like me, had to move on. Walking out the door, I brought the pancake with me,
unwilling to ever let go of my childhood memories. Just as his active childhood filled me
with wonder, his stagnant adulthood filled me with contemplation of my exodus from
my pan. The delicious blueberry pancake had grown up. O yes, he seemed to say, even
I have to grow up.
Art by Shani Breitstein
The Stress, The Anxiety, The Panic, the Fear…
Ayelette Halbfinger
The stress.
The anxiety.
The panic.
The fear.
You work your butt off only to feel as though –
As though you’ve accomplished nothing.
You work harder than the sun.
Awake before it reaches the horizon
And asleep well after it goes down
School has now become a reality.
The bell rings.
Your teacher begins to walk up and down the isles as she hands
out the test.
Gripping your pencil tighter and tighter your palms begin to
“Write your name at the top!” your teacher repeats before
every exam.
All of a sudden your mind goes into full panic mode.
“I can’t do it.”
“I’m gonna fail.”
“What if college doesn’t accept me?”
You run it through your mind enough times
Now you’ve convinced yourself.
A stern voice brings you back to reality,
“I said no talking!”
You snap to attention and your teacher says, “is everything alright?”
You’ve been hiding for so many years,
All you want to do is cry out,
I’m NOT alright!
I’m NOT ok!
I’m drowning and there’s nobody to pull me out!”
Your lips break apart, but your voice wont budge.
“I’m fine.” you respond to your teacher
It’s a lie you’ve told more than once.
It’s become a habit.
There’s no longer another answer that seems to fit.
The terror of High School has taken over our lives.
Kenneth M. Book
I'm stuck inside this prison cell, it's the closest yet I've been to hell.
I'm sure that you have been here too, it's a place the government makes us all
go through.
Inside this cell, my brain gets destroyed, with all of the pressure, I'm just getting toyed.
They don't let me express, no they don't let me talk, whenever I speak, they
say "go take a walk".
I try and I try, but I still don't do well, at least I can ace pre-K show-and-tell.
I do just as poorly when I don't try at all, I just picture authority like it's one
big brick wall.
They'll keep me trapped until my 18th year, but it seems like forever that I will
be here.
Then they'll coerce me to serve, a four more year tenure, when instead I could
be embarking on my own new adventure.
They treat us all, like we are all the same, the only thing different about us is
our name.
What they don't understand, is that we are all unique, we all need to learn with
a different technique.
Einstein said it best, "Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability
to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid".
This is what they do, and it makes us all feel that we are unsuited.
Unsuited to be a mathematician, since I don't understand literary composition.
Unsuited to be an architect, since I failed a history test.
They make us feel stressed, though we are all blessed, with a mind like no
other only we can assess.
We shouldn't all need the exact same knowledge, in order to get into a prestigious college.
The only thing preventing learning in this nation, is our messed up idea of a
good education.
We think education, is the memorization of an equation which we'll only need
to know on occasion.
We think education is a lesson followed by a test, when really it's a test that
gives us a lesson.
Our education system, is just a system that lessens, every real thing in life,
that's meant to be a lesson.
When there is no free will in educating, it turns it into something I like to call
We can't choose what we learn, even if we yearn, to do something more than
be ignorant in the long term.
We're ignorant since there is so much we don't know, like how to shovel snow,
or make a tableau.
If you were stuck on an island, what would you do, since an A in calculus certainly won't help you.
Our school system teaches facts, nothing more, nothing less, they don't teach
us how to handle any problems we may address.
For anyone, and everyone who's still listening to me, even if I may sound a
bit assertory, please recognize these problems before it's too late, and help
me replace this set starting gate.
When your sentence is over, and you reach 18, try to make this jail system a
little less obscene.
Since not everyone needs to be a math machine, and not every needs to
know the composition of benzene.
So if this system hasn't made you dumb as can be, please get down on one
knee, and help me plea.
Not everyone learns in the very same way, don't make this a place we despise every day.
(Commas represent brief pause, not a grammatically correct comma)
New York Through the Eyes of a Pigeon
Casey Fuller
Hustling though The City That Never Sleeps,
few have time to stop and look around.
Many omit important facts from their brains,
and focus on where they need to go.
The many see few, but the few see many.
Flying high above the City,
filled with energy clean and dirty,
pigeons can see the towers and apartments,
all the streets, cars, and pedestrians.
They see a ragged beggar laying wrapped in a warm wool blanket on the common street, jingling small, cold,
metal coins hardly filling his torn snow-white recycled paper cup, as he begs for money to go off and spend it on
We see pigeons as nothing out of the ordinary,
but we don’t know what they’ve seen.
They see everything:
The affectionate kiss of a lover saying goodbye in a field of Central Park,
the hateful punch of a mugger thieving in the dark mysterious alleyway.
In the City That Never Sleeps,
pigeons are the traffic cameras for God.
They spy over every busy highway, every avenue, every street.
They know everything about our City,
but what do we know about theirs?
“Skill alone cannot teach or produce a great short story, which condenses the
obsession of the creature; it is a hallucinatory presence manifest from the first
sentence to fascinate the reader, to make him lose contact with the dull reality
that surrounds him, submerging him in another that is more intense and
--Julio Cortázar
Can’t be Helped
Eleanna Weissman
There’s something comedic
about the Weissman family
household, some slapstick
drama, some irritating
dysfunction. It’s a family of five,
my family of five: Mom and Dad,
Adi (8) and Nitzi (5), and me.
We live in a house infested with
chipping paint; a kitchen that is
simply ridden with bad luck. We
lack organization and conflict
resolution skills. We’re a family
whose every member is the
epitome of some extreme
stereotype. I hear other people
declaring their lives upside
Art by Shoshana Kott
down, listen to friends complain
about helicopter parents or
frustrating siblings. Human nature is believing you are the extreme; the
best or the worst- there is no middle. But ask the neighbors, the friends,
the in-laws, and they’ll all say the same thing; nothing, and no one, is more
dysfunctional that the Weissmans.
We’re a riot. Most of the neighbors hate us. Some ignore us. The Banins,
from next door, call on Monday to complain that our trash was taken out
too late on Sunday. The Marlmens whine every chance they get. If we back
into their driveway with our “boat of a minivan”, if our dog wakes them up
or barks too loudly, if our garbage cans overflow or weeds grow in our
garden, they’ll dial up our cellphones and lecture on our faults and
imperfections. Every now and then, when my dad cooks, he’ll send me to
the Goodmans for a spare egg or mint leaves from their backyard garden.
He walks to their house barefooted and whenever he likes, bragging about a
new product he bought; a soup-making blender or a “Suvi” meat cooker; or
bringing them a taste of his newest food creation; red-and-green-apple
jellybean cookies, “Suvi” cooked meat; or just to say hi. Often our curb is
littered with boxes, spare wooden blocks and metal pipes, pots and pans
too big to fit in the garbage cans and stray garbage bags once all the cans
are filled; usually a mountain of inexcusable, utter crap that miraculously
isn’t explored by raccoons and rabbits.
Every two years, when we realize the highest windows are obscured by a wild
thicket of branches and a game of hopscotch must be played to reach the
doorstep, we have the trees trimmed and the garden re-done. In autumn the
yard suffers a wreckage of leaves that is left alone until the abstract reds and
yellows and golds decay and brown, finally raked away for the wake of
winter; fresh snow hides the dead monstrosity under a crisp white blanket,
until it is trodden, stepped on and disturbed, muddled and puddled, and no
longer beautiful. But compared to the inside of the house, every free piece of
trash that roves the grass and wild thorn bush that snags at skirts is
enchanting, mesmerizing, excusable. Those invited for Shabbat lunches finish
the meal and leave with proper etiquette and farewells, but no doubt they
stare at the crayon-colored walls and grimace at our unfortunate, abhorrent
kitchen, thinking to themselves or talking behind our backs about the
atrocious mess that is the Weissman house. But they always come back.
Eventually the neighbors learn to stop complaining. It can’t be helped- or,
rather, the Weissmans can’t be helped.
It is important to note, however, that when I say dysfunctional, I mean it in
the kindest way. To me the word is endearing; I look at my family as one
would a comic panel; we are caricatures. Our failures are banana peel slipups; painful in the moment; an unexpected “I have bad news” mishap,
frequently about finances, that violently yanks the floor from beneath our
feet or pulls us downward to the ground in a loud and most often stressful
collision. Of course, it is never a smash on the flimsy floor panels, but rather
a crash into that theoretical wall of misfortune, calamity, cataclysm, that
crinkles our security and folds us inwards like accordions; we collapse with
that odd wheeze accordions play when slowly and deliberately pushed
together, a sigh, as all the air rushes from the silver bellows. But with it we
always laugh; sometimes it is only a minor inconvenience with horrible
timing, a pathetic pebble added to our mountain of problems, so small and
unextraordinary that it slides and bounces from pinnacle to base and goes
unnoticed beside the other towering stones. A flooded toilet, a break in a
wall, an unhinged door handle; these are all miniscule problems that we greet
with sarcasm and react to with satire and wit. These are the animals that
from far away you assume to be sheep; but you come closer and find that
really they are bulls. The flood is also in the basement; the carpet is ruined
and precious paintings, soiled; the wall breaks further; it’s not the door
handle but the doorway itself, collapsing inward. There is mold in the kitchen;
cabinets and countertop are gutted and cast aside like unwanted bread,
taking with it our sink and any fragment of dignity our kitchen had left;
replaced by a folding table. I wake in the middle of the night to the sound of
bursting water; the ceiling has leaked and a laundry bin is half full with dirty
water by the time the storm blows away; our roof needs to be stripped and
fixed. The knob to my parent’s shower falls off and they need a wrench to
turn on the hot water and the door to our bottom oven falls apart; our
basement leaks again. We laugh, if not in the moment then soon after. It’s
the incessant bad luck that provokes our laughter; its constant continuity,
though irritating and aggravating as it may be, makes the whole
disaster easier to accept; like when a comic book character finally turns to the
heavens in exasperation and throws his hands in the air like he can’t believe
the obstacles life has thrown at him and he bellows out “seriously? What next, a
volcanic explosion only on my property?? WHAT MORE CAN GO WRONG?!?”
We laugh at all of it. It’s funny, in a contorted, twisted sense; Lady Luck has it
out for us, and our pathetic lives are nothing short of entertaining.
It is a quiet night on a Sunday evening and the darkness outside intensifies the
light of the living room lamps so the room is washed in a saturated golden
glow. I have been sitting upstairs in my room watching TV and my dad
suddenly shouts from downstairs with a furious tone that demands my
immediate attention. “WHO DID THIS?” It didn’t sound good at all so I quickly
ran down to the living room where my dad and two siblings stood by the
recliner. It is a comfortable chair that used to be lovely, but now it is yellowed
from age and spilled drinks. My dad jabs a finger at the side of the
chair and says “who did this?” He is pointing at a bunch of words
scribbled on the leather in black pen. It is my brother Adi’s name,
again and again. “Who did this,” he asks again in a slow and
deliberate voice. I pick at my fingernails because it was obvious who
did it and I don’t have to worry. Adi shuffles his feet. Then, he says
in a last attempt at innocence, “it wasn’t me”.
“Well, would you look at that!” said
my dad one random school night.
“There’s a cat outside.”
“A what?” I asked.
“A cat! Right outside! ‘Can’t see
her very well...too dark. ‘Right by
our doorstep. Pause your show and
come look!”
“Alright. But are you sure it’s a
cat?” I asked as I walked to the
door with a blanket wrapped
around my shoulders.
“I know what a cat looks like,” he
Art by Eleanna Weissman
I look out the window, my curiosity
peeked. “Hm. Yea, looks like a cat. How cute! Not the neighborhood stray
My dad asked, “what do you think?”
“That it’s a cat,” I said.
“That’s not what I meant,” he said, irritated now. “Here, move aside. I’m
opening the door.”
“What! Why?”
“I want to pet it. Come on.”
So he goes, swinging the door open and letting in cold air. I always mind
the cold but my dad can hardly notice it. His wearing shorts and no shoes in
the middle of winter is a well-know quirk of his around the neighborhood.
He bended down and the can soon walked toward him eagerly. Furtively he
checked and affirmed the cat was a girl. While he was outside I called to my
mom, “mom! Come quick,” because I wanted to see her laugh or shriek.
She walked in just as my dad scooped up the cat and brought her inside.
“Hey, Tam, look what I found!”
“What- Seth!” She yelled, “what’s is this?”
“This is a cat,” he said.
“Clearly. Why is it in our house?”
“She was at our doorstep. What was I supposed to do- ignore her?”
“Yes! Or in the very least, don’t touch i!” She said, then, “it’s like I’m
married to a four-year-old. You can’t just walk outside and touch any stray
you see. It’s…It’s stupid!”
“She’s friendly,” was all he said. When he was a teenager he once brought
a turtle to school and hid it in his locker.
“Seth. You’re a grown man, setting a poor example for Eleanna!”
“Oh, I don’t mind one bit,” I said.
Our Friday nights are filled with song and food. “Shalom Alechem,” is always
sung first, and then “Kiddush,” a blessing of the wine. Aside from Saturday
lunch it’s the only meal we eat together. An intricate cloth covers either two
loafs of challah or one loaf and one roll. I’m wearing a skirt of some kind
and the table is set with paper plates and plastic utensils. Opposite Adi and
me are my mom and Nitzi; my dad sits at the end. After pouring grape juice
in our five cups he raises his own and starts “Kiddush”. We’re all standing.
He finishes, we say “Amen” and drink the juice. After this we go to the
kitchen and pour water on our hands from a cup three times, then refrain
for talking until the challah is eaten. Sometimes during this time we hum a
soft tune so the house isn’t silent. When we’re finished mom uncovers and
blesses the Challah, and we can speak again.
“We don’t have napkins,” my dad says. My mom and I head for the kitchen
and start bringing out food. She opens the oven and it creaks. Warm air
bursts out and we can all smell the savory spices and flavors of my dad’s
“Nitzi, can you bring us napkins,” he says, “and Adi can get drinks
from the hallway.”
Adi’s chair scrapes the floor as I bring in a platter of broccoli. He’s
happily filling his arms with soda cans in the other room but Nitzi doesn’t
leave her seat. Instead her arms are crossed and her eyebrows furrowed
and her eyes glaring straight ahead. She grunts. I leave to get the chicken.
“Nitzi,” my dad says, but slower, more deliberate, “please go and get us
She lets out a groan of exasperation not unlike a moaning whale and
slumps out of her seat. Adi comes in cradling four diet Pepsis and my mom
places a steaming plate of white rice by my dad’s elbow. Nitzi stomps her
foot and groans again, louder, glaring at my dad and clenching her small
fists. “Nitzi,” my dad threatens. All the food is brought out and everyone but
her is sitting down.
“UUuh!” She scuffs to the other side of the dining room where we keep
the tableware and throws the napkins on the table. “Why do I have to do
A quiet night in my room: papers on my bed, a brown cat curled at my feet,
closed shades, a blue glow emanating from my computer screen. Parks and
Recreation plays from the open Netflix tab. I sit on the bed and mind my own
business; I rarely walk the downstairs on such easy nights although everyone
else does until bedtime. I hear light footsteps climb the staircase.
Adi soundlessly walks inside. He’s wearing mismatched pajamas and one
sock. I look up from the computer and meet his eyes. Parks and Recreation
continues to play.
“What?” I ask after a moment.
He cocks his head and his eyes roam the room. He shrugs, and walks
away. The door closes behind him.
It is common for a woman to have her eyebrows waxed. Spas, salons,
even some nail places have backrooms with a table and wax ready to strip
away unwanted hairs. A daredevil, someone with experience, and one with no
time on their hands might be the ones to buy a kit and do it themselves. Lately
I have found myself in the category of having no time so I buy the waxing gear
at CVS. The microwave is heating the container in the living room, where all of
our appliances are kept as we remodel the kitchen. A blue plastic spatula, a
thick wooden toothpick, and cheap tweezers are in the bathroom sink along
with strips of cloth I tore from an old pillowcase. I have marked my eyebrows
with black eyeliner and as I wait I thrum my fingers along the sides of the sink.
The microwave beeps and soon I’m ready to start. I stir the wax with my
spatula and then bring it upwards to my face. As I drag it along my eyebrows
viscous wax drips on my eyelashes and clumps on my eyelids. This isn’t
supposed to happen and as I move on to my other eyebrow I panic; the entire
middle is coated; to rip the wax off means living with half of an eyebrow for
the next few months. I scramble to fix it. I try to melt it again with hot water
but only end up burning myself. Rubbing the hair with a paper towel only
irritates the skin further. I go to Google as my last resort and learn baby oil
removes hardened wax. I don’t have baby oil so I use olive and I cross my
fingers. It kind of works, but the main clump is persistent and I have no choice
but to tear it off.
I stare at myself in the mirror, at my red forehead and perfect left eyebrow
and at the semi-bald patch in my right eyebrow. “Hey, mom!” I shouted, “I
just waxed off half of my eyebrow!”
“Well, that was stupid,” she called back.
I laughed, because I looked ridiculous.
Art by Shayna Shor
Art by Amir Wertheimer
The Rose
Reena Wasserstein
Both beautiful and symbolic, roses are able to convey many different messages: an orange
rose, full of bold color to bring energy into someone’s day, a pink rose with petals like blush is given
as a token of admiration, a white rose for new beginnings and conclusions, a yellow rose for a sunny
friendship, a red rose for love and passion. They are classic, given to show that someone cares. The
red rose in particular is a common symbol used throughout time to show love and devotion. This
rose, with its curling petals and thornless stem, was a final thought to save that love. It was a bitter
cold winter day, cloudy and gray, the type that causes depression in some and moodiness in
others. Swirling around were not snowflakes, but little ice pellets, whose sole goal was to cause pain
and frustration. Walking was unbearable, each step a struggle against the wind and the icy sleet. The
streets were filled with dirty slush, which soaked shoes and got the hems of pants dirty and wet. The
howling wind seemed to cry out “stay inside, stay inside”. The trees shuddered beneath their
burdens, the snow heavy on their branches, looking like old men hunched over, shivering with their
leafless arms. Sometimes the icy wind would be too much for the branches to withstand, and the
snow tumbled to the ground, the tree temporarily free to thrash around.
Inside of the house, which was supposed to be a sanctuary from the dark, my mind was going
to very dark places. I sat there at the table, staring at the rose which was out in the garden.
Somehow it managed to survive the first real day of winter. One could not help but be drawn to it. It
was stunning. Its seven silky petals were a deep red that was eye-catching. Compared to the grey
blankness of the outdoors, it was a pop of color. I first sat in the rose garden with my husband, not
long ago. Now my relationship was falling apart, and it felt like my life was crumbling with it. Given
the circumstances, it was very likely the rose would not make it to the end of the day. It shivered
beneath its wintry blanket, the chill coating it like frosting on a cake; it trembled under the power of
the wind, pushed in every direction at one, threatening to break into pieces. Its fate seemed doomed
from the start, yet it held on, staunchly fighting against the forces that gleefully tried to destroy
it. As the wind pushed it to and fro, trying to dislocate it from the ground, the rose stood strong. It
could not move from the ground and would not move from the ground. It was making its small stand
against the winter that was out to destroy it. But when the wind could make it move, it
did. Observing this, it seemed as if the very fate of my love had been put into this rose. If it could
survive, so could we. It was love that planted this flower.
Sitting there, I realized there was something a little sad about putting the fate of my
relationship on a flower, something that could so easily die, and was struggling for its life right now,
betting if my love would survive based on if this small, frail flower did, but I couldn’t help it, it was
something my brain made me do, trying to reassure me that if this flower survived so could we. I put
all the love I had ever felt towards him and pushed it into the flower, eking out each feeling, and
coloring the flower redder and redder with each drop. The flower seemed to pulse like a heart against
the snow. I blinked, the strange image burned into my brain. When dealing every day with the same
person, it is sometimes easy to forget the connection that brought you together. Now that that spark
was fading, it made my every day even bleaker, like I was alone. This flower, which was
representing my future, seemed small and pathetic against the great world that we lived in.
As the snow continued and the world snuggled deeper into their blankets, the flower continued
to fight to survive against the wind and the cold. As night drew close and the temperatures dropped,
the layer of frost on the flower grew. Each petal looked like it was covered in a layer of lace over the
deep red, which shined from underneath, but lessened with each passing hour. The ice sparkled off
the flower, making it look even more like a jewel, even more precious than it was previously. It was
my only chance, my only lifeline. It glowed with an unearthly light, reflecting the last rays of the sun
of the day, its final hope of survival. As the wind picked up and the sun faded away, the flower
seemed to shrink within itself, its petals folding in, like it was giving itself a hug. I watched as the
flower contracted, shriveling, and withering until it became stiff. I watched these acts of selfpreservation numbly, hoping the flower would regain its color, betting on an inanimate object the way
one bets at a casino, waiting for it to unfurl its petals like it did when it blossomed. After several
large gusts of wind, three of the petals were plucked off and thrown up in the air, landing in the area
surrounding the rose, like drops of blood against the snow. I got up, pulled on my winter coat and
went outside, and put my hands around the head, but when I came close, a gust of wind came and
three more petals were blown off, and I realized that the flower would never bloom again, no matter
my efforts. I went back inside.
The last petal detaches in the wind. I stare at the wind, as if it was the only thing that killed it. I dare winter to
fight with me. I glance outside. The wind picked up even more, taking the top layer of snow and pushing it
around, so only the ice was left on the ground. The air whistled through the trees, making a slow keening sound,
as if the trees were begging the wind to lighten up. Cars honked, their drivers unable to see more than a few feet
outside their windshields. Everything was the same as it was before my rose died, the frigid outside paralleling
the cold growing threat against my marriage. It seemed futile to even hope anymore. The rose had done everything it could to preserve itself against the cold, which swept through, destroying everything living in its path,
every animal that didn’t burrow down, every person that didn’t layer up; everything was susceptible to the
cold. The cold can destroy anything everything living, creeping up slowly and laying its chilly fingers right where
your heart was. But the stem stayed rooted in the ground, refusing to bend to the will of the winter. It was a
monumental act, something so small holding up against a force so large. It made me feel a small amount of
hope, that even in this winter of loneliness and desert of despair some form of life could survive. I saw the symbol of my love tossed in the wind, the petals whirling through the air. I thought about going outside again, just to
pick the stem, but knew there was no point. The wind rushed on, the stem bowing to its will. The winter had
won. As I look at the once-flower but flower no more, I understand that if my future is so troubling that I am
betting on a flower to see if it will survive, it won’t. My marriage might be over and there might be not be anything I can do to save it, but the absence of love does not mean the absence of hope in my life. I will have to
move on and plant more roses. I just wonder how this flower lasted longer than my marriage.
The most beautiful smile belonged
nameless, as he sat on a bench in a
strangers. He sat quietly, wise eyes
silver and small, back slouched, jean
said a word, and no words were said
into the town and a misshapen green
houses and shopping centers. It was
rather a walk to work or school. Peop
interwoven pathways, over small bri
rarely stopping to admire the scenic
late or rushing. Everyone was late or
sunglasses that detached themselve
ers. Everyone carried bulking bags a
clopped or slapped on the road. The
used to be. It had become impressio
The old man, however, was stubbo
tach themselves from him, he would
would not abandon the charming me
chasing ducks, or throwing pennies i
amidst the sands of hundreds just lik
away. The old man sat on his bench,
in the same spot, clutching a tattere
He was turned from the strangers to
and squawked ducks and geese, gre
They are never lost in the wind; they
Paintings of Mine
Eleanna Weissman
Poetry is art
Drawn from the Minds
Who don’t have any Paint
Nor need it
It’s colors are none
But the Black
-As vibrant as shadows or dark as lightIs it’s own pallet
No letter wasted
No stroke uncalled
Each word it’s own
Splatter of thought
But, because it’s told
And so often not Shown
It is cast away to the depths
It’s picture never seen
"The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless."
--Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Art by Amir Wertheimer
Art by Shoshana Kott
Art By Eliana Tuchman
Art by Sara Kayla Kanovsky
Ezra Heller
The invariable mark of artistic appreciation
is to see miraculous creativity
in that which is perceived common or dull.
The human race ends
where rigid, drab structure starts.
In the arts;
craftsis perpetual life and creativity.
Someday we will find
that “sanity” and “order”
leaves us all blind
and drags us all behind.
Within the arts;
we are slaves
we are masters
no restraints, limitless interpretation.
They say all beauty must die
I say it lives on
even with its appreciation lost.