how to braid challah
i. Ingredients iii. Cutting and Braiding iv. Optional
You will be baking When cutting Brush with egg
with languages. the dough white twice
Russian, German, into three, four, six so the loaves glisten —
and Yiddish braids, they may be once after
will suffice — too long for the braiding
they contain counter space. and again after baking
a large amount Feel free to use the old-
of gluten — fashioned mahogany in honor
dining room table — of your
ii. Mixing the Dough or linoleum — Russian
While you whatever you’ve got grandmother
knead the concoction, will do, Stretch who threw two
gathering strength out the lengthy kisses, one
in your arms ropes — for each cheek;
and volume take up room —
in your voice — English sentences or sprinkle
such heated are famished a Yinglish
discussions for intonation, of raisins
until the children complexity, or poppy seeds.
scream, Stop arguing! and desire —
and you retort v. Serving the Challah
we are not arguing Using generous hand Invite oodles of people.
we are discussing motions, braid Tear off chunks.
Aunt Ruthie the pogroms.
and your lost tooth Dance with your bread.
and Rachel’s Don’t forget to flour
report card the board every so often — Let the crumbs
and Zena’s last sweeping your hand fall on the good table
doctor’s appointment across the marble, cloth,
for TMJ a clean slate. so be it.
slap slapping it down
turn turning it over
in the dough —
rise, like special yeast —
Claudia M. Reder is the author of My Father & Miro and Other Poems.
your temper about the judge
has risen Poet Alicia Ostriker was the judge for the 2007 Charlotte Newberger Poetry Prize
just a bit —
at Lilith. She is the author of 11 books of poetry, her work has been translated into
you might be in danger
seven languages, and she has been nominated twice for the National Book Award.
the challah about the prize
too tightly — The poetry prize is named for Charlotte Newberger, whose support for Lilith makes
never mind. possible the publication of new poems in every issue, reviews of books by established
and emerging poets, and this annual poetry competition. Newberger has had a
longstanding interest in poetry and the arts, and has served for many years on the
boards of such institutions as Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater and The Poetry Center,
as well as serving as president of the Foundation for the Jewish Culture.
You can read poems selected as runners-up this year at Lilith.org
14 L I L I T H • Summer 2009
2nd place 3rd place
exodus tailor to the king
by ona gritz by emily schneider
A woman has painted her doorpost Great-great grandfather
with blood so that now, in gray half light, Was tailor to the King of Sweden
she shakes a small shoulder, The king kept his power
pats a curved back, and her children in seams and pleats and
startle awake, allow themselves Empty linings
to be rushed into clothes. waiting for his words.
Trusting the hush, they quietly follow The tailor invented, it seems,
as she walks with their father, a phrase with thread,
as they join a river of families “By the cuffs of their trousers,
coursing from home. They walk and walk, You will know them.”
a block of bread dough on her back.
She is used to waking early, used to By the cuffs of their trousers
hefting, carrying, hurrying tasks. You will know which coins will
Such is the life they steal away from; touch in the bottoms
and she could almost feel light, of their pockets,
listening to the sound of her children’s And which pockets are linen,
feet beside her, breathing the baby’s Which wool, which silk.
sour milk head resting on her chest.
But she hears the cries of those By the colors on their lapels,
other mothers, the ones waking now The signals sent by their buttons,
to the stiff unblinking bodies of their boys. Which leather, which copper,
Joined by a thousand voices, Which ageing gold.
the wail rises, thicker than the dust
they kick up as they walk. Grandfather worked in the evening,
Can we let ourselves be loved by such a god? Then gathered his needles in books
She’d ask this of her husband And stacked his earth colored bolts of
but she knows what he would say. fabrics waiting for a soul to wear them.
Adonai Echad. What choice do we have?
His suits, everyone knew,
Would walk with creases
Ona Gritz is a poet, children’s author,
as even as the equator.
and a columnist for the online journal
As flat and honest
Literary Mama. as his fatherly iron.
When the king wore grandfather’s suits,
Even his majesty’s shoes praised them,
And his felt brimmed hats
Sang down on them with joy.
Emily Schneider is a poet and teacher who
lives on Long Island.
www.Lilith.org • L I L I T H 15