The Shema is So Catchy the First Two Lines Often Loop in my Head

Dad said it was not a deliberate act
that the belief system I grew up with
went something like, OK, so, Anna,

while you know this is bollocks,
and I know this is bollocks,
and Rabbi [Redacted] knows

we both know this is bollocks,
and on some level or another
Rabbi [Redacted] may or may not also know

this is bollocks, none of these facts
may be discussed in front
of Rabbi [Redacted], but nevertheless.

Dad said I was allowed to quit cheder
as long as I was the one to explain myself
to Rabbi [Redacted].

Rabbi [Redacted] immediately went on sabbatical,
delaying the lesson I think I was meant to learn
about accountability

and giving me six gratis months
of no Sundays with that bloody woman
whose name and face I have forgotten

but whose voice I remember
telling us the occupation was legit 
because we’ve already lost so much (and me thinking, 
                                                            you only converted 
                                                            when you got married,
                                                            what exactly have you lost 
                                                            as part of this ‘we,’ please?)

so that when Rabbi [Redacted] got back
and phoned Dad to ask why I had quit
and Dad sent him my way for an explanation

I was fully committed to my new life of leisure.
I said, I’m sorry, I can’t come back,
we visit my Nana on Sundays now.

I think probably Rabbi [Redacted] knew
that we’d been visiting my Nana after cheder
just fine for years, but nevertheless.

Dad said as he parked the car one day thirteen years later
that he’d been embarrassed that I’d lied
to Rabbi [Redacted], which surprised me.

I was, like, what on earth
did you expect me to do?

and he was, like, it didn’t occur to me that you’d lie.

And I was, like, it didn’t occur to me
that you’d think
I’d tell the truth.

An eleven year old can’t say ‘I’m an atheist who would like
to double her weekly capacity for lie-ins’
to a Rabbi, how was he gonna come back from that?

As I said this I felt a lot like my mother’s daughter.
And Dad was, like, that was the point at which I realised
how much you were your mother’s daughter

and I was, like, EXACTLY and Dad laughed.
I often joke that I’m essentially Dad
with a wig on, but nevertheless.


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