Curses and Blessings

By Dvorah Telushkin

Hanging Cranberries

In the Sukkah—

Our Fall holy day,

Cement New York City courtyard,

“You f….cheap bastard…”

A shrill voice

From an anonymous window.


Reckless hatred.

“I’m slaving away all day!”

Cracking before the sentence ends.

“F ….you!”

Prickles of knives.

Icicles forming on our skin.

Venom that sucks the

Spirit of celebration.


Imagine, then, 7 days later,

Same cement courtyard,

While disassembling

The Sukkah,

A Chopin Sonata

Wafting from a higher window.

Playing on a piano.

Melodious and serene.

Ephemeral melody floating

Between the Bamboo roof.


Through twirling cardboard birds.

Royal Blue Stars of David,

Drifting into

And caressing, with unspoken wisdom,

Our hearts.



Between 1975-1988 Dvorah Telushkin worked as a personal assistant, editor, and translator for Isaac Bashevis Singer, the Yiddish writer who won the 1978 Nobel Prize in Literature. Her translations appeared in The New Yorker, and in collections of Mr. Singer’s stories published by Farrar Straus and Giroux.

Dvorah Telushkin has had a side career as a storyteller and performer of Jewish folklore and literature. She draws much of the material from the classic Yiddish writers and mystics.

In 1997, she published her memoir, Master of Dreams, telling the story of her twelve-year apprenticeship with Mr. Singer. The book received wide critical attention, including a review in The New York Times. The Weekly Standard called the book “a fully realized portrait of a writer… a reminder that the author’s life was as fascinating as his best fiction.” Master of Dreams was released in paperback, and has also been published in an Hungarian translation.

She is currently completing her first novel, The Cry of the Loon. In addition, she has recently completed a one-woman show, In Search of the Perfect Pocketbook, which is currently being launched. A pocketbook that she designed, which is trademarked “Bag N’ Bag, accompanies the show.