The Holy Land's earth is soaked with our blood,
Spilled through millennia by waves of conquerors,
Romans, crusaders, Saracens, and Turks,
Each in its turn committing massacres,
Mercilessly killing young and old.

Everywhere in Europe, in individual and mass graves,
Our brothers and sisters are buried,
And the ashes of those thrown to the flames
Are scattered all over,
Victims of murderers, crazed fanatics.

Recently the river of hatred changed course,
And back to the East it is flowing.
Out of India's billion inhabitants,
Among the Westerners targeted to be murdered,
The few Jews residing in Mumbai
Were especially singled out for the slaughter.

Rabbi Gabi Holtzberg and his wife Rivkah,
Following our father Abraham's tradition of hospitality
Left parents and a loving community,
To settle in a far away country,
And offer a home away from home
To Jewish wanderers and Israeli travelers.

A year has passed since their murder,
But their sacrifice we are forbidden to forget.
We Jews are one body,
Each other's pain we all must own,
Feeling their anguish is a sacred duty.

I force myself to imagine the picture of horror:
The surprise at the encounter with strange invaders,
The disbelief,
The shock of realization,
The numbing dread,
The torture.

But instead of this hideous sight
I see an old man.
I never met him before, but I know him,
It is Rabbi Akiva,
Who recited the Shema
While skinned alive by the Romans.
Next to him Rabbi Aboulafia,
Burnt at the stake in Cordoba, Spain.
And behind them rows of people of all ages,
Martyrs now angels,
All in white robes, washed in light,
Joyously smiling, welcoming the young couple.
To the sound of a celestial choir they lift them,
Carrying them to heaven, their new abode.
There under the wings of the Shechinah,
With the righteous and the pure,
Together they will dwell to all of eternity.

Hanna Zacks
November 9, 2009