The Jewish American Dream

I recently entered a poetry contest sponsored by Jewish Currents, a self-described “Progressive, Secular Voice” that has a long pedigree/yichus in secular Judaism. The theme of the contest was “The American Dream.”

“Dumplings and Dreams”

Kreplach in a khoylemKreplach
Iz nit keyn kreplach
Nor a khoylem.”
“Dumplings in a dream
Are not dumplings
But a dream.”

The American Dream
Is not America
But a dream.cemetery josefow

“Land where my fathers died.”
Not Lithuania, Belarus,
Aleppo, Paris,
Real graves are dumplings, the song the dream.

“We the People” –
Not in A People’s History,
Not powerless people, native people,
Dark people, women people.flag spots
Real lives are dumplings, the words the dream.

“One Nation Under God” –
Your god? My god?
Whose god? Why god?
Why not “In Good We Trust?”
Doubts are dumplings, the slogan the dream.

But dreams mean,
Said Sigmundfreud, Gaon of Vienna.
Seven fat dumplings eaten by seven lean.
Not fate, maybe future.
Not reality; changing reality.

Some say
“The American Dream” is
Jewish Hollywood dream.
Safe home, blonde wife,
2.2 kids in 2.2 cars.

Some say
“The American Dream” is
American nightmare.
Built of bodies and blood,
Screams and silence.Sendak

Dreams mean.

Im tirtzu,
ayn zo agada
If you will it,
It is no dream.”
It is no longer only a dream.diversity

My fathers died there,
But mine will die here,
As will my son’s.
We are The People,
A still more perfect union,
One nation in diversity,
Blended, cross-pollinated,
Mixed and miscegenated,
Hybrid vigor’s fruits
From Jewish roots.Kreplach

Dreams become.
Dreams become the possible,
Then possible becomes present.

Kreplach in America
Are both kreplach
And dumplings.

The American Dreamstatue_of_liberty_03s
Is not America,
Is America,
Is a dream,


About Rabbi Adam Chalom

Adam Chalom is the Rabbi of Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation in north suburban Chicago. He is also the Dean for North America of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism.
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2 Responses to The Jewish American Dream

  1. sherril987 says:

    I just watched the wonderful documentary on Netflix called “Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness” (2011) I thoroughly enjoyed it and now I’m thinking I should take a class to learn Yiddish and more about Yiddish literature. I love your poetry. I relate to it. It speaks to me. Thank you….Sherril

  2. Pingback: This World – Rosh Hashana morning 5777 | Shalom from Rabbi Chalom

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