Still Wandering in the Wilderness
Paperback: 100 pp.
In this book, Louis Daniel Brodsky proves to be not only a skilled poet but also a very sensitive contemporary Jew. Vividly portraying the inner turmoil and chutzpadik bravery of Abraham, he then traces the "Diaspora mentality" of Jews throughout our history. Periods of progress and persecution inform the contemporary Jewish psyche. In the tradition of Biblical prophets, he portrays the alienated and disaffected Jew with disgust yet also with hope that the ties can be rebound. These writings will cause anyone interested in four thousand years of Jewish history to look deeper into its meaning in today’s assimilated Jewish world.
—Jeffrey Stiffman, rabbi emeritus of Congregation Shaare Emeth
Louis Daniel Brodsky's latest collection, Still Wandering in the Wilderness: Poems of the Jewish Diaspora, constitutes a significant contribution to contemporary Jewish American literature. Written over a period of twenty-five years, these poems reflect not only the insights and sensitivity of an important modern poet but also open a window to a deeper and more perceptive understanding of what it means to be a Jew living in the Diaspora at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
This collection is divided into six sections (perhaps alluding to the six points of the Star of David), with each section focusing on a different aspect of Jewish experience and Jewish existence. These poems are indeed a wandering in both time and space; beginning with Abraham's sojournings in the ancient Near East as the seminal origin of the Jewish quest for meaning, the poems continue in their journey until they take us for a drive in the small towns of the American Midwest. While on the one hand these poems mirror the grandeur of Jewish history and Biblical texts, they do not shy away from giving us vivid portraits of both anti-Semites and Jewish "shmegegges" as well. These poems often throw new light — unexpected and penetrating — on different aspects of Jewish life, be it sitting shivah or the reading of the ancient sacred texts.
Still Wandering in the Wilderness: Poems of the Jewish Diaspora is a book that must be read by anyone interested in uncovering the inner significance of Jewish identity in contemporary America. Here are poems that provoke not only the mind but also the heart. I recommend this book highly.
With Still Wandering in the Wilderness, Louis Daniel Brodsky confirms his place in the first rank of American poets who are Jewish, and among the great American Jewish poets. This volume is a collection to be savored, read and re-read in order to fully glimpse the many verbal gems that sparkle among its couplets.
— Robert A. Cohn, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, St. Louis Jewish Light
Descended neither of Ashkenazim nor Sephardim,
Neither from Levi, third son of patriarchal Jacob,
Nor Aaron, Moses's brother, as a Cohen,
You regard yourself as a Jew, nonetheless,
A nonpracticing, unregenerate Jew,
A Jew without official immigration papers,
A Diasporan waif, a grain of Sinai sand
Still being blown across the ages,
Nameless, destinationless, alone.
Last night, at sundown,
Rosh Hashanah looked around for your silent soul
And found it disguised as dust,
Languishing in lassitude's anonymity,
Undone by your reclusivenes,
Convinced that your presence was unnecessary,
That the Jewish New Year wouldn't suffer,
From your refusal to reflect on, confess, your many sins,
Surrender to repentance.
And so, in an agnostic haze,
You drowsed away the evening,
Lost in deep indifference toward your heritage.
But upon awakening into Saturday's day of rest,
You perceived a change come over you,
Not so much physical or emotional,
Rather spiritual, preternatural, numinous.
You felt yourself being drawn to a voice,
A call to follow it out of the wilderness.