The first adult I saw cry was a rabbi. My favourite rabbi actually, the one who knelt down when he talked to us.
Our Shul was such a discrete building you’d mistake it for a house and I often used to. Finding it was like playing hide and seek. I couldn’t understand why it didn’t have pillars and tall statues like the other houses of God.
We must be humble, our rabbi once winked when I asked. It felt like a lie but I didn’t get it. Not then.
One Saturday we were late to service and that’s when I got it.
The old ladies were sitting on the lawn and everyone had their heads in their hands. I’m sure they were all distraught but it’s not them that I remember. I remember our rabbi hugging everyone. His hands black from trying to wipe away the spray paint. Crying.
While my mother helped clean the swastikas, I played in the yard with the other kids. Hide and seek, I think it was. None of us with any idea how someone who’d painted a few straight lines could have broken open so many hearts. It was like they weren’t trying at all.
Laurence Levy-Atkinson is a writer and poet based in Melbourne, Australia. His work can be found in many places, including: Southerly, Australian Poetry Journal, Poetica Magazine, and Inklette. He has been featured in the Spineless Wonders emerging writers’ series and was shortlisted for the 2018 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award. He can be found on YouTube, Twitter and Instagram @outofthepage.
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