I am the child whose parents were shot dead in front of her and the young man who shot them, who picks his nose in the evenings, who still dreams at night that he is a Pokémon catcher—I am him too. I am the girl who is afraid to walk near windows so she pees in her bed as the warplanes fly above her like imaginary monsters, there to burn up her home, and the young man in that cockpit, pimples near his nose and a weird ability to remember the lyrics to many foreign pop songs— I am him too. I press down on the button, on the trigger, as I was told to and I kill my children, my siblings, I kill my own grandparents, knowing eyes, teeth loose in their mouths as they murmur about god— I am the news pundit, social media jouster, all the leaders of this blood- effort, beneath my cheering or my edicts I am mumbling, help me, I try to say but I cannot speak because my mouth is is packed full with the bitter and familiar taste of my own flesh.
Moriel Rothman-Zecher is a Jerusalem-born novelist and poet. His first novel, Sadness Is a White Bird, was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and a National Jewish Book Award and was longlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize. His second novel, Before All the World, was named an NPR Best Book of 2022. His poems and essays have been published in the The American Poetry Review, Barrelhouse, Colorado Review, the New York Times, the Paris Review’s Daily, Zyzzyva, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA in poetry from the Bennington Writing Seminars, where he received a Donald Hall Scholarship for Poets. Moriel is the recipient of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 honor and two MacDowell Fellowships for Literature. He lives in Philadelphia, and teaches creative writing at Swarthmore College.
Meirav Ong (she/they) is an Ashkenazi-American transdisciplinary artist from Sharon, Massachusetts based in Oakland, California. Ong draws from her Jewish heritage as a framework to conceive of an embodied prayer practice that exists as an alternative to Judaism’s patriarchal structures. Her practice explores embodied prayer in relation to grief, Jewish mourning rituals, and Genetic Memory through textiles, clay, sound, performance, and social practice. Ong holds an MFA in fiber from the Cranbrook Academy of Art and a BFA from the University of Michigan. She has exhibited at The Everson Museum in Syracuse, New York, the Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, New Jersey, among others. Her work with community organizations includes The Zekelman Holocaust Center, Lab/Shul, and JFREJ. Her work has been published by AJS Perspectives, Ayin Press, and No Tokens Journal. Ong is a cofounder of Well of Wills, a feminist collective creating art at the intersection of spirituality and activism. She is currently the artist in residence of the East Bay JCC in Oakland.