Our Kehilah is a Vineyard

By Susan Fritsch Cohen

The following poem was written by Susan Fritsch Cohen on a recent trip to Israel with Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation. Of the trip, Susan said, “Our congregational trip had a transformative effect on me — it solidified my connection with Israel and with the community I traveled with, and that inspired me to write.”  She read the poem during her adult Bat Mitzvah service while in Israel.

Each of us arrives as a cutting from some older vine, planted alone
Some sure, some timid, some frail
First we reach down, finding what we can in ha-adamah to hold onto
In some places it is easy to grow
Others are harder to grasp
Drawing sustenance from all the land has seen
Bullets and battles
Ancient civilizations
Victory and defeat
Mystics and martyrs, makers and merchants
We all find purchase
Drinking in the rain, breathing the wind, feeling the sun
Each day anchoring more deeply
Then branching out along the trellis, combining with our neighbors
Growing together until we are one line to the horizon
Now we stretch across fertile valleys and rocky hills, up terraced mountains,
Down to the desert, from the river to the sea
A part of Eretz Israel
What will our contribution be?
Nourishment? Sacred wine? A blessing of boreh pri hagofen?

We are rooted in the land
Our people go back centuries
Our stories create the future
Our voices join the song
Le-cha dodi li-krat kallah
Yai lai lai  Yai lai lai  Yai lai lai

If your trip to Israel inspires you to write, or take photos, please submit them to Samantha Tananbaum for the opportunity to be featured on the ARZA blog, and hopefully inspire others too!