A Poem for the Tree of Life Synagogue


Etz Haim עצ חאים David Friedman ©2002 In the poet's collection.
Etz Haim עץ חיים
David Friedman
©2002 David Friedman
In the poet’s collection.

Etz Chaim  עץ חיים

Tonight the clocks rolled back.
Time changes, but we
cannot sleep an hour
more. Who can sleep tonight?

Man shot the Tree of Life,
riddled its trunk with lead,
that soft and poisonous
metal turned to gold

through twisted alchemy—
profit-politics a strained
Philosopher’s Stone.
Stone-cold fucked-up NRA,

stone-cold fear-monger swamp-
creature calling out loud
to lock up the Jew they
blame, honing fear’s dull blade

until it cuts the trunk,
and bloodies us all.

—Michael Dickel
19 Heshvan 5779
(28 October 2018 C.E.)


Say their names:

Joyce Fienberg, 75
Richard Gottfried, 65
Rose Mallinger, 97
Jerry Rabinowitz, 66
Cecil Rosenthal, 59
David Rosenthal, 54
Bernice Simon, 84
Sylvan Simon, 86
Daniel Stein, 71
Melvin Wax, 88
Irving Younger, 69

Read about them in The New York Times.

Tree of Life
David Friedman
©the artist

Just a few days before the Etz Chaim Murders…

“Just minutes after President Donald Trump called for unity in the wake of attempted bombings targeting a number of Democratic officials, he took a swing at ‘globalists’ and used the phrase ‘lock him up’ while chuckling. Trump was responding to a crowd yelling to lock up George Soros, a victim of the bombing attempt.”

—Nicole Goodkind, “Donald Trump Repeats ‘Lock Him Up’ Chant About George Soros Minutes After Calling for Unity Around Bomb Threats.” Newsweek 26 October, 2018

Transcending and Including
David Friedman
©the artist

Etz Chaim  עץ חיים — Hebrew for Tree of Life [return to poem]


In Israel, the roll back to Daylight Savings Time was the evening of the shooting, motsei Shabbat, the evening after the Sabbath, which is the beginning of the week. In the Jewish Calendar, days go from sundown until sundown. So, Shabbat (the Sabbath) begins on Friday evening at sundown and ends Saturday evening, after sunset (defined as when three stars can be seen in the sky, in the past, more typically about one-hour after Shabbat began on Friday, in modern times). [return to poem]


The focus of "The BeZine," a publication of The Bardo Group Beguines, is on sacred space (common ground) as it is expressed through the arts. Our work covers a range of topics: spirituality, life, death, personal experience, culture, current events, history, art, and photography and film. We share work here that is representative of universal human values however differently they might be expressed in our varied religions and cultures. We feel that our art and our Internet-facilitated social connection offer a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters, and not as “other.” This is a space where we hope you’ll delight in learning how much you have in common with “other” peoples. We hope that your visits here will help you to love (respect) not fear. For more see our Info/Mission Statement Page.

4 thoughts on “A Poem for the Tree of Life Synagogue

  1. It’s always a tragedy, but even more so when it happens in a place that is supposed to be ‘safe’ from such vile wickedness. Evil is continually drawn to the brightness, will do whatever it can to snuff out the light…and faith.

    Your poem was well-crafted, haunting and rightly calls out those who enable such evil to exist and grow. Surely fear is part of the core of it, but it still feels like a hollow justification in the face of innocent, bloodied bodies lying on a synagogue floor. Thanks for sharing this with us, Michael.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The power of this piece lies in its brevity and directness. Michael Dickel cannot hide his feelings of revolt and resistance; ironically, rather like the childish and dysfunctional president, only this poet has one extra crucial ingredient … deeply felt compassion. A being, without compassion, is not human. Thank you Michael.

    Liked by 2 people

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