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Brooklyn Teen’s Poem Goes Viral, Sharing Chassidic Inspiration With the World

Brooklyn Teen’s Poem Goes Viral, Sharing Chassidic Inspiration With the World

A 16-year-old Chabad girl takes on a school assignment, and the rest is history

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This poem written by 17-year-old Chanie Gorkin, with its unique style and positive message, was tweeted and went viral.
This poem written by 17-year-old Chanie Gorkin, with its unique style and positive message, was tweeted and went viral.

An inspirational poem written by a 16-year-old Lubavitch girl, Chanie Gorkin from the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., went viral this week, sharing a Chassidic message of hope with more people than Gorkin could have imagined. Unbeknownst to the young author, the poem—titled “Worst Day Ever?”—was printed and posted on a board in a North London bar when someone took a picture and tweeted it.

The poem went viral, attracting attention from media outlets on both sides of the Atlantic, including Mashable, The Huffington Post, ABC, NBC and The Telegraph.

“The coverage has been overwhelming,” says Gorkin’s mother, Dena, noting that her daughter was not one looking for such attention. “But she is happy to have inspired so many people.”

For Gorkin, an 11th-grader at Beth Rivkah High School in Brooklyn, the story began in November when a teacher assigned her to write an essay to the theme of “Worst Day Ever.”

“Chanie came back from school and said she wanted to instead write something inspired by Chassidic philosophy, which teaches about harnessing the power of moach shalit al halev [intellect’s ability to govern one’s emotions] and finding the good hidden in every moment.”

Chanie had been writing creatively for a few years, so she flipped the assignment on its head, literally, writing a poem that could be read forward, but its true message revealed only when read backward:

Worst Day Ever?

Today was the absolute worst day ever
And don’t try to convince me that
There’s something good in every day
Because, when you take a closer look,
This world is a pretty evil place.
Even if
Some goodness does shine through once in a while
Satisfaction and happiness don’t last.
And it’s not true that
It’s all in the mind and heart
Because
True happiness can be attained
Only if one’s surroundings are good
It’s not true that good exists
I’m sure you can agree that
The reality
Creates
My attitude
It’s all beyond my control
And you’ll never in a million years hear me say

Today was a very good day

Now read it from bottom to top, the other way,
And see what I really feel about my day.

‘Guaranteed to Make You Think’

A few days later, Dena Gorkin, herself a principal at the Bnos Chomesh Girls High School in Crown Heights, shared her daughter’s poem with a student who was having a bad day.

“My student read it and was blown away,” she relates.

Not long afterwards, the poem was entered into a poetry competition on PoetryNation.com, making it into the semi-finals before ultimately being passed over. The poem was also published in N’shei Chabad Newsletter, a Chabad magazine for women, and its life was prolonged by being popularly shared on Facebook and making the rounds on the WhatsApp messaging service.

The story seemed to be petering out until one tweet from the other side of the world set social media ablaze and traditional media scrambling.

“The poem, which was helpfully posted on ‘some wall’ in London (because as we all know, Londoners are almost always in need of a bit of perking up), has two alternate meanings depending on whether you read it from top to bottom or bottom to top, and is guaranteed to make you think,” wrote The Metro, a London newspaper.

Since being reported on, an image of the poem has been posted on many sites and read by millions of people.

“I think Chanie’s poem has become popular because there’s a lot of darkness in this world, and something uplifting like this really resonates,” says her mother. “Words from the heart enter the heart. I think Chanie’s sincerity was felt through her words.”

Chanie herself was not the one to post her work on Facebook; as she puts it, she’d rather hang out with her friends in real life.

“The message in the poem isn’t mine,” says Chanie, who has since turned 17 and is entering 12th grade. “The Lubavitcher Rebbe [Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory] taught that when you change your perspective, other things change as well. That’s what inspired this poem.”

Although she didn’t seek international attention, the sociable and studious Gorkin—who got an “A” for the poem in school—is happy if it has a positive effect on someone, somewhere.

“I’m really happy that my poem has inspired people. If someone was having a terrible day and this helped them turn it around, then it has all been worth it.”



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18 Comments
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Dan SC via m.jewishmyrtlebeach.com August 2, 2015

Blessings Very good! Thank you for sharing. G_D bless. Reply

Shulamis Yehudis Boston July 30, 2015

Bravo Just ingenious. And ingenuous. May the author continue to use her talents for the good always. Reply

Anonymous Earth July 29, 2015

A comment I like the geometrical aspect. There are several sketches that look sad one way and look happy upside down, but this is the first I've seen of that in an English poem. Very nicely done! Reply

Libby Goodman Jenkintown, Pa. July 29, 2015

Brilliant !! Her maturity and wise thinking shines through every line of her beautiful poem. I know I will read it often and, with pleasure, share it. Reply

Maria NY, NY July 28, 2015

Excellent! Reply

Anonymous Brooklyn July 28, 2015

diaasponited as a son of London, I was surprised you wrote, "because as we all know, Londoners are almost always in need of a bit of perking up" - this is just plain nonsense and stereotyping. Please remove that offensive line and stick to the great work you do by stating facts and not your owe prejudiced thoughts. Reply

David Schwartz Dallas July 28, 2015

Awesome! Beautiful. Very happy you published it since ai missed it elsewhere. Reply

suri katz Brooklyn July 28, 2015

today's generation It warms my heart to see that teenagers of today's generation have so much more clarity than the teenagers of my generation.

Chasidic teachings are so refreshing.

Look at the effect they have on our world.
Keep it coming Chabad.org Reply

Anonymous ASHFORD, Kent, UK July 28, 2015

More than talented,
More than inspired,
The poem is the product of an integrated mind and sensitive heart.
It reveals a truth to help anyone and everyone who reads it.
It will be used, copied - and even plagiarized,
- simply because it is both simple and superb. Reply

Helen Fox herts July 28, 2015

poem loved it Reply

Douglas Oregon July 27, 2015

Well done, Well done. Reply

Anonymous Montreal July 27, 2015

The message is quite simple and logical, but the way she puts it together is wonderful:) G-d bless her. Reply

Marion Broome Siegel Orange County, CA July 27, 2015

A wonderful, thoughtful poem. Hard to believe she is just 17 yrs. Reply

Robin Tysons corner va July 26, 2015

Love love love love this! Thank you Chanie BH Reply

Anonymous Boca July 26, 2015

Wow, I admire her courage to display her heart and soul. Reply

Rise Allen Florida July 26, 2015

This poem won first place for me. It is truly a wonderful, inspiring poem! Reply

Rick Toronto July 26, 2015

Amazing writing! don't stop - you're super talented! Reply

Jamie Erin Henry July 25, 2015

Girl's Poem This poem has a strong emotion wither way you rad it.
Very inspiring, full of hope and encouragement.
She has a gift I hope she enjoys for a long time. Reply

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