Sacred Walls

Sacred Walls by Shayna Schreiber - Photo by Sonja Lippmann

It was under the guidance
Of a cantor whose vibrato shook the floor
And a rabbi with a beard longer than the Ashrei
That I got my first taste of temple,
Its Hebrew bitter to my untrained tongue
And its mysteries swirling in my clueless mind

In the safety of sacred walls, I was mesmerized
By the rows and rows of dark green siddurim
That stretched across the splintering benches like ivy
And crowning every head were colorful kippot
That rivaled the intricate stained glass panels
Tinting the temple in a soft rainbow hue

It was where the beads from my bat mitzvah dress
Scattered down the dusty carpeted stairs,
Where growling stomachs made the music on Yom Kippur,
Where hot drops of wax fell on my hand during havdalah
And where I hoped to don a lacy white gown
Like my mother, her mother, and her mother had

But now the crow’s-feet by my eyes are simply wrinkles,
The new siddurim look more like books than ivy,
And my old mentors were replaced by unfamiliar faces
As no amount of rainbow-stained nostalgia
Or prayers spoken in perfect Hebrew
Can change the fact that my temple isn’t my home anymore.

What do you think about this topic? We want to hear from you!
Join the conversation!
Shayna Schreiber is a member of the class of 2023 at Milken Community School in Los Angles, CA. She is one of the presidents of her Sketch Comedy Club, which stages serval shows a year, blending together her love of entertaining her community and anything goofy. In her spare time, you can find Shayna enthusiastically cheering on her school's basketball team with the other cheerleaders or strumming her guitar as she tries to master a new song. Among friends and family Shayna is known for her love of anything sweet, so if you have any spare Kit Kats, give her a call!
Accompanying photo: “With the Temple” by Sonja Lippman