Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors

Jewish Haiku: Jewish Identity Issues in 17 Syllables

Jews and Haikus are
A Rorschach test reflecting
Who we think we are
Beyond the 17 syllables arranged in three lines of five, seven, and five respectively, and beyond the nicely rhyming rhythm of “Haikus and Jews”, this poetic form reveals much about what we believe and how we think about who we are. Not to mention the potentially Biblical roots of this poetic form. My good friend and fiendishly funny Haiku writer, Jed Bergman, suggested an open forum for exchanging these telling little poems, which is just what I am doing.
Check these out for starters:
Lacking fins or tail
The gefilte fish swims with
Great difficulty.
Beyond Valium,
Peace is knowing one’s child
Is an internist.
Her lips near my ear,
Aunt Sadie whispers the name
Of her friend’s disease.
The sparkling blue sea
Reminds me to wait an hour
After my sandwich.
Jews on safari —
Map, compass, elephant gun,
Hard sucking candies.
Mom, please! There is no
Need to put that dinner roll
In your pocketbook.
Seven-foot Jews in
The NBA slam-dunking!
My alarm clock rings .
Sorry I’m not home
To take your call. At the tone
Please state your bad news.
Or, as I responded to the person who sent these to me:


Jewish Haiku
Like playing with food
Playing with our words is fun
But much more Jewish
One can even write commentary on the Bible and Jewish Holidays in Haiku as this two paragraph poem, found on The Torah in Haiku, does quite nicely:
Simchat Torah
October 9, 2009 in 5770, Simchat Torah by Ed
We read of Moses
Dying atop Mt. Nebo
At the word of G-d
Then we start over
With the creation story
Learning without end
And the biblical roots of this poetry? Well, how about this:
She-ma Yis-ra-el,
A-do-nai E-lo-hei-nu,
A-do-nai E-chad
Hear, o Israel!
The Lord is our G-d,
The Lord is One! (Alternatively: The Lord Alone!)
The fact that it doesn’t work in English is not only irrelevant, but adds significance to the claim that Haiku was not necessarily originally or exclusively Japanese. And at the very least, we can comfortably say that if it’s a worthy enough format for what many understand as the classical statement of Jewish belief; it is surely worthy of our attention.
So do you have a Haiku in you? You don’t have to be a Jew to, but Jewish themes would be especially appreciated. Write on!

  • K

    Rolled beef on a toasted bagel
    Cannot forget the mayo
    Pausing again to rest
    Remembering we are blessed
    A renewed peace
    Innocence of a child
    Wisdom of the aged
    Life, come full circle.

  • Morah Shoshana

    This is great! Every year my shul has a Jewish Haiku day with their 5th Grade religious school class. I wish I had them on hand in order to post them! Those kids come up with some pretty amazing things about holidays and values.

  • ASC

    Hey Brad:
    Please give credit where credit is due: The haikus you cite are the work of David M. Bader, the author of “Haikus for Jews” and “Zen Judaism: For You, A Little Enlightenment”. David’s very funny work has been rocketing uncredited around the Internet for years, and he should be acknowledged. Suggestion: post a link to his books on Amazon.

  • Am nobody

    Link to his website; his work is truly exeptional: original, subtle, funny beyond anything you’ve read before. Very human, funny but with kindness though he has 2-3 haikus which drive me crazy everytime I think of them. Looking for his next book which is expected to be a hit.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment martin gottlieb cohen

    tefillin shop
    the smell of wine and leather

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment martin gottlieb cohen

    Yom Kippur
    on the east river
    a bread loaf

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment martin gottlieb cohen

    Orchard Street
    the smell of linen
    in the sun

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment martin gottlieb cohen

    tree ice sunlight inches down the bedroom chair

  • martin gottlieb cohen

    from her dark hip the moon’s curve

  • aellin

    The first batch of haikus are from Haikus for Jews by David M. Bader (Harmony Books, 1999). You probably found them somewhere online but they are misquoted and badly screwed up. The originals are much better.

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