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Gates, Open and Closing – New Liturgy / Poetry / Art for Selichot and Ne’ilah

These offerings (new from Bayit’s Liturgical Arts Working Group) are bookends for the Days of Awe. Here are poems, prayers, and artworks for Selichot and for Ne’ilah, the near and far thresholds of this holy season. May they help these holidays lift our spirits and open our hearts. And may the new year bring blessing not only to us but to the whole aching world.  

Featuring work by Trisha Arlin, R. Rachel Barenblat, Joanne Fink, R. David Evan Markus, R. Sonja K. Pilz PhD, and Steve Silbert. Available both as a downloadable PDF and as google slides suitable for screenshare. 

Download the PDF:

Gates Open and Closing [PDF]

 

Or access as google slides:

Gates, Open and Closing [Slides]

 

Here’s a glimpse of what’s inside:

Transformation, one of the illustrations by Joanne Fink.

For Selichot:

The gates are opening.
A transition in time:
notice and walk through.

Tonight we open ourselves
to possibility, to becoming
better than we were before…

— R. Rachel Barenblat, “Gates”

*

You search our souls. You know our secrets.
We walked through our lives half asleep.

We sinned before You. Please forgive us…

You search your souls, battered by secrets.
I promised you I’d never slumber nor sleep.

I sinned before You. Please forgive Me…

— R. David Markus, “Our Selichot to God / God’s Selichot to Us”

*

During the month of Elul we ponder and remember,
An illusion of thoughtfulness,
Because underneath the meek apologies lie
Obsession
Resentment
And embarrassments that do
Whatever it is that
Hate
Lies
And ignorance do
To help us create the past…

— Trisha Arlin, “Underneath”

*

This year has been my first one as a mother
I did so much
Most of it never mattered
Because nothing compared to my baby…

— R. Sonja K. Pilz, PhD, “S’lichot: Enough? Enough.”

For Ne’ilah:

Bend the knee and leave the old damage behind.
It is resolved
Or it is not.
It is forgiven
Or it is not.
In any case
Those gates are shut…

— Trisha Arlin, “Aleinu 5782”

*

Keep open the gates
At this time of closing,
For day is turning

And so are we – after too many flew away,
Too soon, leaving too much unsaid and undone,
But for us it’s not too late – not yet…

— R. David Evan Markus, “Don’t Lock the Gates”

*

It is done.
Once again I sealed my destiny.
With the sound of the shofar,
In the red and pink and orange of the sky,
I stand breathless,
Again,
Before You…

— R. Sonja K. Pilz, “Ne’ilah”

*

The end of day.
That doesn’t mean
I’m leaving you…

— R. Rachel Barenblat, “The End of Day”

Download the PDF:

Gates Open and Closing [PDF]

 

Or access as google slides:

Gates, Open and Closing [Slides]

 

      

This collection features liturgy and poetry by Trisha Arlin, Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, Rabbi David Evan Markus, and Rabbi Sonja Keren Pilz, and artwork by Joanne Fink and Steve Silbert. Find all of our bios on the Builder Biographies page.

Yearning For Our Plague to End: Lag Ba’Omer 5781 / 2021

New from Bayit’s Liturgical Arts Working Group comes this collaborative compilation of poetry and art for Lag Ba’Omer. The 33rd day of the Omer is understood in Jewish tradition as the final day of a plague afflicting Rabbi Akiva’s students. What meaning can we find in that teaching this year, as COVID-19 continues to rage worldwide even as vaccinations in some of our nations crest toward safety?  Here are poems, reading, and artwork offering some answers to that question.

(We’re also working on a larger collection for Shavuot, and plan to release that soon, so stay tuned! You can find all of the Liturgical Arts Working Group’s offerings on our webpage here.)

 

Download the collection:

Bayit Liturgical Arts Working Group – Lag Ba’Omer [pdf]

 

 

Here’s a taste:

After a month of mourning Mom
I took myself to the beauty shop
for a manicure and a trim

readying myself — mostly —
to enter the world again…

— “Haircuts,” R. Rachel Barenblat

What will be the first thing I do?
Getting a haircut.
Taking the subway down to Sunset Park to get a facial
In a basement beauty shop next to 8th Avenue.
Hugging friends; dropping the mask…

— “The Mark,” R. Sonja K. Pilz

I don’t know anything about Lag B’Omer
Except what I read on Wikipedia
Which tells me a few different things it’s supposed to celebrate,
One of which is the end of a plague that killed 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva’s students.
And I can’t write about that today, our plague isn’t yet over.

I like to think about Akiva though,
Because I had a crush on him when I was a kid.
Still do, sort of…

— “What I Know About Lag B’Omer,” Trisha Arlin

Day one of the Omer, Chesed within Chesed (lovingkindness). We play outside, celebrate freedom with matzah pizza. Case counts are rising again here, and the new variant is more infectious and severe than last year’s. How worried should I be?

— “Lag Ba’Omer – An Omer Journal,” R. Dara Lithwick

And the image illustrating this post is from Steve Silbert’s beautiful drawing “Ready for the Grief to End.”

Download the collection:

Bayit Liturgical Arts Working Group – Lag Ba’Omer [pdf]

 

        

Poetry by Trisha Arlin, Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, Rabbi Dara Lithwick, Rabbi Sonja Keren Pilz. Artwork by Steve Silbert. Find all of our bios on the Builder Biographies page.