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

Finalist, 2019 International Book Awards, Religion: General

$15. Buy at Amazon, or at Open Book (7900 High School Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027), or contact Janet at


Here I Am Again

Here I am again.

This congregation.

This same room.  These same prayers.

The same hopes and intentions, mostly, that I bring every year.

And yet I keep coming back

for another chance, another opportunity,

another beginning, that maybe this year

will be the one that makes the difference,

that this will be the year when I’m finally able

to cross off the big things from my list,

that I’ll do the to-do’s

and stop the to-don’ts.

Some years it feels like nothing much is different,

that I’m still stuck on the same old stuff

so the year that’s ending must not have mattered.

But it did; if I’m honest with myself

and consider all I’ve done,

I have moved on, if only a bit.

The year mattered.

After all the High Holy Days I’ve been through,

I now know that change isn’t always big.

For most of us, change doesn’t come in neon colors, accompanied by an oompah band.


the changes I make are small enough to fit in my pocket.

But they’re mine,

and along with a candy wrapper and a quarter for the meter,

my pocket

this year

is full to overflowing.

Sarah, Barren, Bears Fruit

She is no longer a young woman.

Blood still flows, but less red, less rich,

and finally, she understands

and starts laughing.

As she opens her mouth

a branch issues forth

as if from her belly,

covered with little crackly leaves and blood-red apples,

firm, and imperfectly round and shiny

as if polished by hand.

She laughs, delighted, and looks down

and sees her legs become a pear-tree trunk

planted firmly,

and when she wiggles her roots with joy

more than a minyan of fruit fall

unbruised, perfectly ripe.

She laughs, amazed,

and when she lifts her arms

they become branches of an orange tree,

laden, heavy, ready to be plucked.

And from the tips of her fingers spring clusters of grapes

more purple than red, with seeds.

She laughs, loving this change of life,

and from her belly button creep tomato vines

with oval plums

the perfect red

while her nipples burst

bearing clementines

that she will gift to every child she knows.

She laughs,

at last,

and her fruit shakes like a windstorm.

When pieces fall

she is replenished,

and when she squats with her weight

she bears honeydew,







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.



“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

I came home from yesterday’s morning (Yom Kippur) service and thought I want to do something quiet and reflective. I went to my bookcase and pulled out In the Spirit of the Holidays. I read all of your Yom Kippur poems. It was exactly what I needed and wanted. –Carol

It was very helpful to peruse your book’s Yom Kippur writings yesterday afternoon as I was struggling to stay engaged with the day while at home. –Mark

My sister is delighted with the copy of In the Spirit of the Holidays I gave her and told me how she read from it at Pesach at her seder. –Jonathan

Upcoming events

Post-pandemic events TBA

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.

The Jewish Journaling Book

$15. Buy at Amazon, or at Open Book (7900 High School Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027), or contact Janet at

In the Spirit of the Holidays

$15. Buy at Amazon, or at Open Book (7900 High School Road, Elkins Park, PA 19027), or contact Janet at