Almost Trashed

This is what Alan found in the garbage one day:
movie ticket stubs,
crumpled candy wrappers,
a partially eaten ham and cheese sandwich,
yesterday’s newspaper,
empty soda cans,
crushed cigarette butts,
and an old pair of tefillin.

Then Alan suddenly understood why
he had been desperately searching
through garbage
for years and years.
He must have known,
deep down,
that along with the trash,
what still had value, the most value,
was also being thrown away.

Alan stuck his hand into the garbage
and pulled out the tefillin.
Then,
for years and years,
in turn,
the tefillin searched desperately,
found its way
through the garbage piled high in Alan,
and pulled out Aharon.

Bracha Goetz is the Harvard-educated author of fourteen Jewish children’s books, including Remarkable Park, Let Your Fingers Do the Mitzvos and The Invisible Book.

Just Ten Minutes?

“Take ten minutes out of your day,
To do what you enjoy,” the “experts” now say.

Ten whole minutes? Is that all we get?
Nearly twenty-four hours with pleasures unmet?

Has it come down to this? Must we settle so low?
Our foremother knew more than today’s “experts” know.

“All her days were good,” our Torah makes clear.
Sarah enjoyed every minute – each year.

And within our souls, her dormant trait lies,
An innate potential that need only arise,

To extract out life’s pleasures, and feel ecstasy,
Not just for ten minutes – for an eternity!

Bracha Goetz is the author of twelve Jewish children’s books including Remarkable Park , The Invisible Book and The Happiness Box. She also serves on the Executive Board of the national organization,Jewish Board of Advocates for Children, and coordinates a Jewish Big Brother and Big Sister program in Baltimore, Maryland.

Ode to a BT-FFB “Intermarriage”

Heaven sent my wife to be my soul mate here on earth,
Although we grew up differently, ‘cause she’s a frum-from-birth.

Her father works in chinuch at a choshuv institution,
On Saturdays, my dad just reads his books on evolution.

Her kollel brother has written many seforim through the years,
My brother went to “Temple” once, but he was bored to tears.

Her sister tends to seven kids and runs a clothes gamach,
My sister cashiers at McDonald’s just around the block.

The list goes on, I’m sad to say, it really gets much worse,
The point is that I feel I’m from a different universe.

We have no shalom bayis problems, a great thing that I wish you,
But privately I really see an underlying issue.

It’s all bershert I didn’t choose a BT for my wife,
But naturally she can’t relate to things from my past life.

It’s challenging to talk with her, of course she’s not to blame,
But I wish someone would understand the things I overcame.

This websites nice, don’t get me wrong, I do have what to say,
But it’s not a substitute for what’s on my mind each day.

I wish more often I could find perhaps some validation,
For the feelings I have deep inside from my life situation.

A BT might come on Shabbos, we would schmooze way past the meal,
He would nod his head and say, “I know exactly how you feel…

My siblings all have married out, their words I’m always dreading,
‘Just because she’s not a Jew, you won’t come to my wedding?!’”

We’d laugh about the treif old songs, the kind that make you hiss,
But when I hear them in the mall, I like to reminisce.

It’s fun to exchange stories how we found our Yiddishkeit,
“Well, first I tried out India, but said, ‘This just ain’t right!’”

And silly comments come to mind, (I’ve made quite a few),
“Aharon’s name is Cohen, but his brother is Rabbeinu??”

And to this day I still goof up: “Kag Samayack!” I exclaimed,
But when my kids corrected me, I really felt ashamed.

I really feel quite fortunate, don’t mean to moan and groan,
But even with a family, sometimes I feel alone.

Perhaps I need to make more friends, to be a bit outgoing,
This is all just part of life, as long as I keep growing.

Just Ten Minutes?

“Take ten minutes out of your day,
To do what you enjoy,” the “experts” now say.
Ten whole minutes? Is that all we get?
Nearly twenty-four hours with pleasures unmet?
Has it come down to this? Must we settle so low?
Our foremother knew more than today’s “experts” know.
“All her days were good,” our Torah makes clear.
Sarah enjoyed every minute – each year.
And within our souls, her dormant trait lies,
An innate potential that need only arise,
To extract out life’s pleasures, and feel ecstasy,
Not just for ten minutes – for an eternity!

Bracha Goetz is a Mentoring Coordinator in Baltimore, Maryland and the author of eleven children’s books, including The Happiness Box, The Invisible Book, and What Do You See At Home? For Bracha’s presentations, you’re welcome to email bgoetzster@gmail.com.

We’ve Got It Backwards

“Mommy, I can’t read this.
It’s all upside down!
Mommy, it’s the truth –
Why do you have that frown?”

“b’s and d’s aren’t easy.
For me, they are hard.
M’s and W’s –
I can’t tell them apart.”

“Tatte, I can’t daven,
Like others in shul.
I don’t want to go.
I look like a fool.”

“Kids laugh at me.
It’s because I’m so slow.”
Years have passed by,
And you sure did grow.

There was no instant cure.
You worked hard many hours.
You didn’t give up,
Drawing out untapped powers.

Doors started to open,
We thought were sealed tight.
The first blessing read,
Brought such huge delight.

There’s still dyslexia,
But your eyes shine with joy.
Courage is now,
A big part of our boy.

You learned how to struggle.
You’re not scared to try.
You fall down. You get up.
I barely hear you sigh.

“It’s all upside down!”
Your words were not wrong.
Those given a big weakness,
Can end up the most strong.

Bracha Goetz is a Mentoring Coordinator in Baltimore, Maryland and the author of eleven children’s books, including The Happiness Box, The Invisible Book, and What Do You See At Home? For Bracha’s presentations, you’re welcome to email bgoetzster@gmail.com.

The Mitzvas Weren’t Mine

by Bracha Goetz

I got the costume right, but
For years, the mitzvas weren’t mine.
Or, they didn’t feel like they were.
The actions – and the blessings too,
Were awkward,
Then shallow,
But I said them anyway,
Hoping for a day like this.

The deeds, the prayers, even the thoughts
Endured, stiff and inflexible –
But at least not destructive
Like other thoughts, words, and actions
Once had been.

From a very negative point,
I had moved a long, long way up to position
Zero.

But now, it has even
Inched above that.
Today, a simple blessing spoken
After eating an orange,
Turned into something unspeakably
Wonderful.

Sitting by my kitchen table, I
Soared all the way to Yerushalayim
And back again, to reveal the present:
A body and soul that is getting in sync!

Nothing drab about this world.
These actions, these words, these thoughts,
They can reveal the essence of everything,
And everybody.
They are making me into who I really am.

For years the mitzvas weren’t mine.
But thank G-d
I guess it takes time and
Practice
For thoughts to transfuse,
For words to soak in,
And for stiff, inflexible steps to
Begin flowing into
The most genuine dance.

Children’s Books by Bracha
Aliza in MitzvahLand
What Do You See on Shabbos?
The Invisible Book – do you believe in what’s invisible?