Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

David, Goliath and Egg Fu Young…by Robert M. Katzman

© December 21, 2013

People of the Book

Wandering brown-eyed

Through silent dark streets

Alone among the millions

Each December 25th

For Millennia

Tinsel-less

Sleigh-less

Tree-less

Santa-less

Outside and looking in

No chimneys filled with myth

No stockings to hang

No mistletoe for kissing

 

Reminded yearly of their

Infinitesimal numbers

An ancient people

Existing as an asterisk

And resisting the urge to blend

Uniqueness of philosophy

Has its price

Even their heroes invisible

Yet such fidelity offers an identity

As the prize

Christmas in America

Storied and sung

Bethlehem, Wise men

A Manger, Mary and Joseph

Frankincense and gifts

Peace on Earth

Once, all of them us

Good and bad

Kind and cold

A moment in time became

A super-nova of separation

And the Jews, its asteroids

Drifting on their periphery

Chanukah?

NOT Jewish Christmas!

Guerrilla warfare

Elephants and Greeks

Maccabees and miracles

The endless battle to remain apart

When?

Two hundred years before

The death of Christ

Yes, we intersect

Did Christ have a menorah?

I hope so

Eventually, all of this existential history

Boiling down to:

Nowhere to eat on Christmas

Distinct we are, yes

But hungry among the Christians

The cost of resistance

Came the Chinese people

A quarter of the Earth

The greatest Diaspora ever

Peacefully e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e

Quietly present

Wherever I traveled

Seeking Chinese restaurants

The Chinese spoke Chinese to each other

But always, also:

From Norwegian to Czech

The language of wherever they were

Plus English

 In this way, they conquer the planet

An invincible force

Goliaths to our Davids

Armed with irresistible weapons

Hot and sour soup

Both innocent to see and

Deadly to experience

Crunchy egg rolls

Mongolian beef with

Green peppers & scallions

Shrimp egg fu young

And this seductive fare

Gentle Chinese Delilahs

 are but the

Vanguard of their Juggernaut

Sometimes relations evolve

Over tens of centuries

Inexplicably leading to a once

Impossible to envision

Embrace of David and Goliath

Allies within Christendom

Though Jews are but a whisper

 In the overwhelming

Screaming and shouting of the planet,

That whisper permeates everything

Like celestial vapor

A Biblical people

Lingering through time

Saying:

We still matter

On Christmas day,

When Jews wander through darkened cities

Surrounded

By mile after mile of muted neon

Still, after two thousand years

Still looking for a welcoming Inn

Joseph and Mary: Where art thou?

Our hearts warm when at last we see

Those Chinese Sentries

Sturdy Szechuan Synagogues

Doorposts to our shared community

Welcoming us home

Saying in bright colors:

We are waiting for you

Always waiting for you

Please come in from the cold

Into our fragrant warmth

Every day

and

Any day

of the year

The Chinese word for Jews is:

You Tai Ren

Me?

My word for them is:

Mensches!

(Merry Christmas, everybody…seriously)

Robert M. Katzman is available for hire as a speaker and poet in the Chicago area for private groups and organizations

Contact him at theoldmagazinestore@icloud.com or, preferred: (847) 274-1474

7 Comments »

Comment by Helene

December 22, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

Hate hate hate chinese food and never had it on Christmas growing up and never as an adult.

But very cute. Love where it leads.

Comment by Don Larson

December 23, 2013 @ 5:36 pm

Bob,

I celebrate Christmas but I am not a Christian. The holiday holds no religious significance to me.

Having been blessed by so many Jewish people in my life, I hold no bias to those of that ancient race and religion.

I wish you and yours the best celebrations of your faith and contributions to those you know.

Sincerely,

Don

Comment by Bright Spencer

December 23, 2013 @ 8:52 pm

thank you for another wonderful read, such rhythm and grace, such flair and good taste, especially when mentioning Chinese!

Happy Holidays, Robert. May God be with you all your days.

Comment by Bob

December 24, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

Just a little clarification. Since Jerusalem, etc is actually in Asia, and the term “Middle East” coined by Britain to solely describe its own geographic location in relation to that part of the world, and which therefore has absolutely no other meaning whatsoever for anyone else, then it follows that Jews are actually: Asian.

But then, since all of Europe is actually a relatively small penninsula off of the western part of Asia, the Greeks, French, Germans and Italians are all Asian, too.

If people enjoy my Christmas/Jewish/Chinese poem-story, that makes me very happy.

Comment by Paul Eisenbacher

December 24, 2013 @ 2:50 pm

Bob
I spent one Christmas in Taipei and had a fabulous Chinese diner. In fact during Chinese New Year Chinese restaurants close for a week. We ate native Taiwanese food. Which was very good as well. I found that no mater where you are in the world some type of restaurant will be open on any given day. I never went hungary on any holiday. How lucky I have been to say that. When so many others go without. Have a great holiday season no matter what religion or spiritual beliefs you have. I learned in China one expression of great importance. “We are all brothers under the same sky”. What separates us is us. See you in 2014. Paul

Comment by Bob

December 24, 2013 @ 8:51 pm

Paul, a note from you is always a present to me, any time of the year. I revised the poem (again) and changed the ending, when I learned something new today. take another look. It may make you smile.

I have this irrational hope that this poem, this time, may float around the world and really be read.

So, in China, are the Jewish restaurants open on Chinese holidays?

My best to you, my friend.

Bob

Comment by Elaine

January 1, 2014 @ 1:56 am

Nice poem, Bob! Question: Did not Esau trade his birth rite for a meal? Beware the Chinese. They’re present in their businesses, but notice they’re absent from the everyday affairs of daily living. There is but one nation/people ready and willing (and you should know this) to stand up for and defend to the death, Israel. That is the United States (once known as a Christian nation). There are two witnesses–one being Yahudah (the Jews)…the other being the Christians. Combine them, and you have the Torah and traditions, and the Besorah and salvation…foretold in Torah. Remember, Yahudah is but one of 12 brothers of Israel (Jacob)….the other 11 are lost and don’t even know they’re part of Israel….so don’t cry Yahudah, at least you have each other. Don’t complain, I am more alone than you are.

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