Review: Poetry in motion


by Aaron Leibel

Seasons of Prayer by Sherri Waas Shunfenthal.
Pocol Press, 2014 125 pp. $14.95.

Judaism and poetry would seem to be an ideal fit. Our presumed psalm writer David appears to have understood that symbiotic relationship. So does Sherri Waas Shunfenthal.
Seasons of Prayer is her third effort along those lines, and, as with Sacred Voices: Women of Genesis Speak (2001) and Journeys Into Healing (2003) – both of which were reviewed in these pages – she presents the ideas that we Jews hold sacred, in an-easy-to-digest poetic format.
This set of poems are grouped around the Jewish holidays, all the traditional ones plus Yom Hashoah and Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel Independence Day), and life-cycle events, with poems to celebrate weddings, conversions, adoptions, etc.
The final chapter presents her take on the holidays.
I found some of the poems – and
especially the ideas they present – truly inspirational. In “L’Dor V’dor,” in the chapter on Simchat Torah, the Burke, Va., resident writes that Torah preceded the writing of the scrolls, coming from our foreparents, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebeccah, Rachel and Leah “who carried faith in their hearts, wisdom in adherence to belief.”
In “How is This Night Different from all Other Nights” in the Passover chapter, the poet notes that on all other nights, God looks down on Earth, “breathes a heavy sigh” and says “Oy!”
“But on Passover night
G-d looks down upon his people
sees them seated round the Passover table
talking, remembering and telling
and G-d breathes a satisfied sigh
and says ‘It is good!’ ”
In “I Touch the Wall,” in the short chapter on Yom Ha’aztmaut, she relates the transcendent feeling that so many Jews experience standing at the Kotel (Western Wall).
“I am ancient
I am young
I am fragile
I am strong
I am proud

I am here.”
And in “Broken Glass Under the Chuppah,” in the Life Cycle Events chapter, Shunfenthal writes:
“May you take the broken pieces and make
them whole by your union this
wedding day.
May you create Tikkun Olam with love,
hope and celebration of Life.”
This collection is useful in supplementing our joy in good times and
providing solace in bad.
Sherri Waas Shunfenthal may not be David, but she gets this poetry-Judaism thing. n
Aaron Leibel is WJW’s copy chief.  His novel Generations: The Story of a
Jewish Family, which spans 1,500 years and three continents, is available at at and in Kindle format.
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