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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Chess’

Praying with the Body

By Richard ChessAugust 7, 2019

It happens only once a year, during the High Holidays: a full prostration, human body to the floor. In my congregation, the rabbi, and sometimes the guest cantor hired for the High Holidays, Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, each joined by two congregant-assistants, prostrate themselves fully on the bimah, the platform on which the holy…

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Meet Me in “Eremitaggio”

By Richard ChessMay 20, 2019

“The Kotzker Rebbe–” * Devotion to God. Devotion to Art. Immersion. Withdrawal. * Four paths: Into the world. Apart from the world. Through the world. Beyond the world.* I’ve heard of him: the Kotzker Rebbe. Haven’t I heard at least one of his teachings from any of a million rabbis from whom I’ve learned? Rebbe:…

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Ready or Not for the Days of Awe

By Richard ChessSeptember 18, 2018

By now, I could have read Psalm 27 at least twenty-seven times, once a day for the past twenty-seven days. I could have participated in communal prayer on Shabbat morning three times during this month: Elul. Regular prayer—a practice that may create conditions in which the worshipper can see herself as she is seen by…

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A Letter To Stephen Dunn

By Richard ChessAugust 16, 2018

Dear Steve, I’ve had to look away for most of three decades now—away from your work. “Why.” That’s the title of a poem, a poem in your book Here and Now, I read this morning. “Because you can be sure a part of yourself is always missing,” the poem begins. When I read your poems…

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Welcome to Tel Aviv

By Richard ChessJuly 23, 2018

Early on Friday morning, the first full day of my recent trip to Israel with Congregation Beth Ha Tephila, Asheville, NC, six of the forty-three participants gathered on a momentarily quiet Metzitzim Beach near the Tel Aviv port for twenty minutes of mindfulness practice. When we finished, we noted, just to the south of us,…

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Yehuda Amichai: My One Poet

By Richard ChessJune 18, 2018

If I could have only one poet, I’d choose Yehuda Amichai. He’s the poet of the city where I came to life in my twenties: Jerusalem is a port city on the shore of eternity…. Jerusalem is the Venice of God.   Jerusalem stone is the only stone that can feel pain. It has a…

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Mother’s House

By Richard ChessMay 29, 2018

Mother’s house is not a house. Mother’s house is not a cave. Mother’s house is not a sacred text. Mother’s house is not an oven. Mother’s house is not a medicine cabinet. Mother’s house is not a song. Mother’s house is not a tree. Mother’s house is not an ocean. Mother’s house is not a…

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Poetry Friday: “are you my god”

By Richard ChessMay 11, 2018

It has been years since I read the Narnia books, but the phrase I remember from them is “Aslan is not a tame lion.” Aslan, the books’ figure of Christ, can be tender and merciful; but the children learn that he can be wildly powerful as well. I recalled this while reading Richard Chess’s poem…

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In the Presence of My Enemies

By Richard ChessMay 10, 2018

I eat a pretzel in the presence of my enemies. (They have assembled in Charlottesville.) To be a man of men, I sip my whiskey neat in the presence of my enemies. (They march on the nightly news.) I present my failed masterpiece in the presence of my enemies. (The other painters in the juried…

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I Will Sing Your Praise

By Richard ChessMarch 14, 2018

For a few years in the late 1990s, early 2000s, I brought a book of poetry with me whenever I went to synagogue for Shabbat morning services. After I was settled into my pew, I’d discreetly slip the book out of my tallis (prayer shawl) bag, tuck the thin volume of poetry inside the thick…

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