The Old Order



When my grandfather, small and neat,

Prayer shawl-wrapped, silk hat-crowned,

Faced the congregation beside the

Black-robed rabbi towering,

Cantor and choir singing,

When my small grandfather pulled the cord

Drew back the veil before the Ark

Scrolls of the Law in red velvet disclosing,

Crown of Rimmonim, shield of Tass,

Ivory Yad godward pointing,

When the rabbi raised the Sefer Torah

Its silver bells tinkling as he said,

“This is the Torah that God gave through Moses

To the Children of Israel”;

And handed the Torah to my grandfather

Who held it aloft that the standing

Congregation might see, might walk

In the light of the Lord—

Then the vaulted dome in the synagogue’s roof

Filled with white radiance

And the Voice of the Lord spoke glowingly:

“Nicholas, my son, mark the favor and esteem

In which I hold your grandfather.”