Today We Dedicated Mrs. Klevens’ tombstone

Mrs. Klevens You Are A Subversive

For Esther Blitz Klevens

You’re a Hebrew teacher
You are a yiddishist
You are rare
You represent a culture that doesn’t
Basically know its own languages
In the place Where you live

That means you are more important
Than almost everyone
— Except a select core of initiates —
Realizes

You are an authenticator

In the place where you live
You almost
Single-handedly
Return language to the center
Where it belongs
What is culture anyway
Without language?

It is water without
Vessel

It is branch
Without
Root

It is Length
Without depth

You are well rewarded for your effort
You make many bucks an hour
From parents of children
Learning something their parents
Had not themselves acquired enough
To teach
Except when you refuse to charge
anything

You are extremely
Counter-culture
In a way that is not recognized
Because you sit on a couch
And recite lessons
In your living room

And give your students cookies
And sesame candy
And confidence

You give your students
confidence

You are a subversive

You get inside their heads
And teach them the source-words
Of Western civilization

You are connected to Akiva
And to the Rambam
And to Rashi
And Rashi’s daughters

You are Moshe Rabbeinu
Moshe Rabbeinu in slippers
Sunglasses
With the blinds drawn in your living room
You are Moshe Rabbeinu
In slippers

Your wisdom — the building blocks
Of Everything
All creativity
Words
Language
Letters
Portions

You could probably have explained this
But you were busy with the alef bet
And making sure that young Jacob
Or Stanley
Or Cherisse
Were learning their lessons
Correctly

By honoring the Torah
When even their parents may have been honoring
Mostly

Narishkeit

You on the other hand sit on your couch
And impart wisdom
In letters
Then syllables
Then words
Then portions
Ideas

You are teaching Hebrew
And you know
In your heart of hearts
That something much larger

Is taught here
Than a language that limps along
Through the interest of a small group
Of eccentric people
Who do not give it up

What that people’s gifts are –
You understand

But you don’t say it
You do it

And you teach others
Who are attentive it

To do it too

You teach Hebrew
And
Dignity
And
Respect

You teach koved
Honor

Confidence

When you leave this world
Somebody should say
Out loud
At least once

That you have left a large space
Behind you

That when a person of depth leaves
A place
She leaves a large space
Behind her

Somebody should say
Out loud
At least once —

Esther Klevens –
You have left a large space
Behind you

james stone goodman, united states of america
Wednesday, june 29, 2011