By Rabbi Rachel Barenblat
In oil, pale circles roll and flip,
doughy moons inflating.
The fun part: poking a finger
inside, giving a wiggle and twist,
pushing a dollop of jam
knuckle-deep, then two, ’til
the cavity gleams raspberry.
Latkes are pedestrian.
These puff like a breath held.
There, and here,
a million women finger
these cupped curves,
probe the soft center,
push the sticky treat inside.
We glance at each other, faces hot.
We lick the sweet from our hands.
(Today’s poem originally appeared in Zeek and appears here today with permission from the poet.)
Rabbi Rachel Barenblat was ordained by ALEPH: the Alliance for Jewish Renewal in 2011. She serves Congregation Beth Israel in North Adams, MA. She holds an MFA in Writing and Literature from Bennington, and is author of four poetry chapbooks as well as a collection of Torah poetry entitled 70 faces (Phoenicia, 2011.) Her second book-length collection, Waiting to Unfold, will be published by Phoenicia in 2013.
Editor’s Note: Tonight at sundown Jewish people across the world will begin the eight-night celebration of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. This is a holiday that reveres oil—that magical substance that lit our way in days of yore and ensures Hanukkah will not be forgotten by the mouths to come. Every year I follow my mama’s recipe for sufganiyot, deep-fried treats that take the concept of the doughnut to a whole new level. While I have yet to perfect my own sufganiyot, my mama’s are inspiring, like today’s poem. (And like my mama herself; let’s be real.)
With today’s piece Rabbi Rachel Barenblat elevates these phenomenal holiday treats from the realm of the epicurial to a heightened world where femininity, sexuality, and deep fried delicacies become one. Welcome to a lyrical orgy that conjures up a feminist reclamation of the kitchen scene from 9 1/2 Weeks. As I sink my teeth into these soft, hot desserts this Hanukkah I will be thinking of Rabbi Rachel Barenblat and the women of the world who are making tradition their own.
Want to read more by and about Rabbi Rachel Barenblat?
Rabbi Rachel Barenblat: The Velveteen Rabbi (Official Website)
Velveteen Rabbi (Blog)
Buy 70 Faces from Phoenicia Publishing