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Erev Yom Kippur 2018

09/20/2018 11:27:30 AM


Rabbi Yair D. Robinson

No One Leaves Home

Home-Warsan Shire

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbours running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won't let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it's not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn't be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

go home blacks
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs

or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child’s body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
be hunger
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i've become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here.


As Jews, we know what it means to run. As Jews, we know what it means to not have a home, to think we had a home and find that it is on fire. As Jews, we know. We know what it means. We have been carrying our babies, our bread, our stories, our burdens on our backs for two thousand years. We know. And now, tonight, the holiest night of the year, we are secure in our synagogues, our homes. We rejoice in our prosperity, in our relative safety, even as we’re mindful of the police protecting our door. And we know that there are children in converted Walmarts weeping for their parents, and parents scattered to the four winds weeping for their children. No, their weeping is not more important than that of the parent or child weeping in Wilmington, yes, they lament in a different language. And as Jews we know what it feels like, because we’ve felt those tears in the backs of our throats. We know.

I don’t know what the solution is for immigration, for refugees, for asylum seekers. And I’m not going to pretend that I do. I don’t presume that one person’s pain is more precious than another’s. I know that there is pain, and as Jews, we know that our obligation is to alleviate that pain, to recognize the dignity of the person suffering that pain, to embrace that person and love them as a person.

I don’t have any answers this Kol Nidre, except one. That there is a choice before us. Whether we are going to add to the suffering of others or help relieve it. Whether we are going to take our own security for granted or extend it to others. Whether we are going to stand against the tide of anger and rage or be swept up by it. I will stand against it, with every fiber of who I am. Even when I’m exhausted, and truth be told, I’m exhausted a lot of the time. And I bet you are, too. Tonight, on this night where we sing away our vows, and apologize in advance for the promises we fail to keep, I take an oath: I will stand against the pain of hunger by working to feed the hungry. I will relieve the pain of violence by supporting its victims. I will challenge the pain of being the stranger by embracing and offering dignity to the estranged. I will do this, and more. And I ask that you do this with me. We must. Because it is the only way forward. Because to do otherwise would be blasphemy. Because no one leaves home unless it is the mouth of a shark.

Sat, July 13 2024 7 Tammuz 5784