Janet Ruth Falon’s new book:

 

In this collection of 146 poems designed to be read at home or at synagogue, privately or aloud, Janet Ruth Falon questions, grapples with, and sometimes turns concepts and rituals about the Jewish holidays inside out.  Using down-to-earth language, Falon at times questions long-standing practices and beliefs, and shows how engaging with the particulars of each holiday can lead to new, lively connections and significance.  Just as she searched for meaning by writing this poetry, readers can find their own meaning in her work, or perhaps be inspired to write their own responses to the holidays.

Finalist, 2019 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Poetry

Finalist, 2019 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Spirituality

$15: buy on, at (7900 High School Rd., Elkins Park, PA), or contact Janet at janetfalon@gmail.com


This month’s samples:

(Two poems for Yom Kippur)

My Confession

I used to think

       that when I was beating my chest with my fist

       it was because I’d been bad

       was guilty

       and was trying to create a physical reminder

       of all I’d done wrong.

I used to think

       that when I was beating my chest with my fist

       it was because, like the Tin Man, there was nothing inside

       and I needed to hear the emptiness reverberate

       to remind myself of the hollowness of my mortal life

       and how I needed to fill the emptiness, each year,

       with the viscera of good intentions.

Now I know

       that when I’m beating my chest with my fist

       it is because I’m knocking on the door to my heart

       I’m gaining access

       and entrance

       to the pink, warm part of me

       hoping to release the love

       and forgiveness

of my self.

My First Yizkor

It’s anticipation  

         the same as before I went to Yad Vashem

         or Auschwitz

         or even the Holocaust Museum in D.C.

that my emotions will overwhelm me

and I won’t be able to “take” it,

although what I really mean by that, I don’t know

         That I’ll “break down” crying and won’t be able to stop?

         That I’ll drop dead on the spot from the intensity?

         That I’ll somehow feel so much that I’ll burst like an overblown balloon, pieces of me scattered like an airplane crash over a Pennsylvania field?

It’s interesting:

It’s only loss

         Jewish loss

that matters, it seems,

that pushes me to the edge of shattering.

Yet at the same time, I’m curious:

It’s a rite of passage about something dark,

something I didn’t have to deal with when I was younger,

         like mammography,

         or mapping out an escape route from my three-story home.

                  What goes on in there?

                  Does everyone weep? 

                  What words will we say?

                  Will someone put an arm around me if I shudder with waves of grief?

This year, it’s my time,

my first time, for my father.

So I stuff a tissue up my sleeve,

like my mother does,

and enter to join the others.

 

about Janet Ruth Falon

Janet Ruth Falon is an award-winning poet and journalist, and a writing teacher.  A former newspaper reporter and magazine editor, she is the author of The Jewish Journaling Book and two books about gender respect. She has also written for The New York Times, The Philadelphia Zoo, WHYY television, etc. 

Janet has taught a variety of writing classes at The University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Gratz College, synagogues, businesses, churches, and art museums, and teaches expressive writing and journaling to people with cancer.  She also leads a non-fiction writing group and works with people on an individual basis.  

She lives in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Cary Mazer, daughter Hope Falon-Mazer, and their two cats, Mendel and Rifka.

 

Testimonials:

“To see the Jewish festivals refracted through the eyes and ears of a spiritually drawn Jew who then gives them shape and color in playful, serious verse gives new life to them and to us.” 

       Rabbi Arthur Waskow, author of “Seasons of Our Joy,” “Down-to-Earth Judaism,” and “Godwrestling — Round 2.” 

Arthur Ocean Waskow is an American author, political activist, and rabbi associated with the Jewish Renewal movement


Reader’s responses:

I loved the poems: they are deceptively simple, with humor and poignance, very human.   –Martha

Janet’s original poems provide a thought-provoking glimpse into her take on the meaning and significance of a Jewish way of life. Her unbridled creativity guides the reader through paths which frequently, and sometimes surprisingly, “rings a bell” of concurrence with the reader’s own views and experiences.  –Ron

I am reading it slowly and savoring a few poems at a time. Each one is a little treasure and each one makes me think about something I didn’t think about before or say to myself, “Yes, I have felt the same way but never had the marvelous language to express it the way Janet does.”   –Shelley

Your voice is universal, and such a gift.  –Peggy

I devoured the glossary and contextual notes at the beginning of each chapter, appreciative of the fact that you have taken the time to invite me to this knowledge. Then, with a new understanding, I enter into your words and feel them dance and settle in my heart.   –Alison

upcoming events

Wednesday, March 13, 7-8:30

Elkins Park Free Library, 563 Church Rd, Elkins Park, PA  

215-635-5000 

Book reading, followed by Passover-themed writing workshop

Sunday, March 24, 2-4 (reading at 4)

Big Blue Marble Bookstore, 551 Carpenter lane, West Mt. Airy neighborhood

(215) 844-1870

Passover-themed writing workshop followed by book reading 

Must sign up in advance for the workshop; reading starts about 4

Thursday, March 28, 7-8

Tiferet Bet Israel, 1920 W Skippack Pike, Blue Bell, PA 

(610) 275-8797

Book reading/writing workshop

Sunday, March 31, 10-12

Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel (library)

8339 Old York Rd, Elkins Park, PA 

(215) 887-8700

Book reading/writing workshop

Tuesday, April 2, 10-12

Gratz College

7605 Old York Rd, Elkins Park, PA 19027

(215) 635-7300

Passover-themed writing workshop /reading

Must sign up in advance


Also by Janet Ruth Falon

The Jewish Journaling Book

Janet Ruth Falon delves into the practical aspects of keeping a journal as well as how you can use your journal to nurture Jewish values and concerns. Using examples from her own writing, she demonstrates how journaling can unleash your creativity and reveal aspects of yourself that you may not have thought about before. She also includes 52 journaling tools that teach specific techniques to help you create and maintain a vital, living journal, from a Jewish perspective.

Inspiring and practical, this guided tour of journaling shows how yours can be used to better understand yourself and the world.

Buy on , or contact Janet at janetfalon@gmail.com

in the spirit of the holidays

$15: buy on, at (7900 High School Rd., Elkins Park, PA), or contact Janet at janetfalon@gmail.com